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Hello this might be a weird question but I've been arguing about this with a native English speaker (I am Dutch) and I would like to know who is right.

I will give the example now:

Person 1: "You never do anything in the house." Person 2: "Actually, I do"

Person 1 (native) stated that when I say "actually" it's a comparison. Person 2 (me, non native) I'm saying that when there's no "In contrary to what you said" or something similar in the sentence it is not a comparison.

Who is correct?

marked as duplicate by Drew, Edwin Ashworth, Glorfindel, tchrist May 12 '17 at 13:54

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"Actually" often implies a surprise, or a situation that is in conflict with expectations.

"I was afraid I was going to get in trouble at work. Actually, my boss gave me a raise!"

"My mom thinks I love ham and cooks it every time I come over. Actually, I can't stand it."

If it's in response to someone else's comment, it implies a correction of what that person said:

Person 1: "They get cheese from trees."

Person 2: "Actually, cheese is made from milk."

In this example, Person 2 is describing their understanding of actual reality, in response to (in contrast with) Person 1's assertion of their own understanding of reality. I suppose you could say there is an implied comparison between Person 1's worldview and Person 2's worldview. Most native speakers probably would think of it more as "correcting someone", since it is not just a comparison, but also an implied statement by Person 2 that Person 1 is incorrect.


"Actually" does of course imply a (contradictory or conflicting) comparison, even if just as a "correction". It supposes a reference to another, differing situation or state, as opposed to the "actual" state.

And now I suggest in future you put your socks INTO the washing basket, not NEXT TO it.

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