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actual +‎ -ly



actually (not comparable)

  1. (modal) In act or in fact; really; in truth; positively.
    Actually, I had nothing to do with that incident.
  2. (obsolete) actively
    Neither actually [] nor passively. — Fuller.

Usage notesEdit

  • In some other languages a word of similar spelling means "now" or "currently"; (e.g., Portuguese "atualmente", Spanish "actualmente", French "actuellement", German "aktuell", Italian "attualmente", Czech "aktuálně"). This leads many non-native speakers of English to use "actually" when they mean "now" or "currently".
  • Some commentators have:
    1. remarked upon the irony that this qualifier of veracity often introduces an utter lie;[1] and,
    2. noted that in many cases, actually functions as little more than a vacuous emphatic utterance.[2]
  • In practice, actually and its synonyms are often used to insinuate that the following is either unusual or contrary to a norm or preceding assumption, or to merely preface an overconfident opinion contrasting a previous statement or norm (as per 'vacuous emphasis' note above).
This is actually a really beautiful song. (contrasting opinion)
Actually, I'm not from France - I'm from Switzerland. (contrary from assumption)
At the check-out, the cashier actually greeted me for once. (contrary from norm)

Alternative formsEdit




  1. ^ Christopher Howse; Richard Preston (2007) She Literally Exploded: The Daily Telegraph Infuriating Phrasebook, London: Constable and Robinson, ↑ISBN, page 3.
  2. ^ ibidem, page 4