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How To Learn The Difference Between ‘Really’ And ‘Very’?

  • “What is the difference between really and very?”
  • “Can I use really and very anytime I want?”
  • “How can I remember when to use each?”

These are questions we frequently get from our learners and, the truth is, we get it, we understand that it can get a bit confusing. These two words have a lot in common: both are adverbs, have similar definitions, and we use them to emphasize, to intensify what we are saying.

So, if they have so much in common, can we always exchange them? Unfortunately, not really. In this article, you’ll learn the difference between really and very, get some tips on how to remember the rules, and some extra exercises that you can download to practice.

What Is The Difference Between Really And Very?

A. Really And Very As Adverbs

Really: (adv.) is used to describe adjectives, verbs or other adverbs.

  • She thought the project was really interesting. > adjective ✔︎
  • He was driving really slowly. > adverb ✔︎
  • I really enjoy my job. > verb ✔︎

Very: (adv.) is used to describe adjectives and adverbs (but not verbs!)

  • She thought the project was very interesting. > adjective ✔︎
  • He was driving very slowly. > adverb ✔︎
  • very enjoy my job. > verb ✗

TIP 1: If you’re talking about an action, avoid very!

TIP 2: After “I”, “we”, “they” and any other subject, we cannot use very, we needreally. (I really like it; They really want to finish early; Tony really enjoys his job.)

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B. Really As An Exclamation

You can also use really to express interest, surprise, or doubt:

  • ‘I’ve worked so hard on this project.’ – ‘Really?’
  • ‘I applied for a job at Google and they accepted me.’ – ‘Really?

It can also mean ‘actually’, ‘truly’ or ‘indeed.’

  • Really, it’s too much work.
  • It was an incredible performance, really.

C. Very As An Adjective

When very is combined with nouns, it means ‘actual,’ ‘precise’ or  ‘exact.’

  • Those were his very words.
  • He might be flying at this very moment.
  • From the very beginning of the book.

In A Nutshell

Basically, you have to remember four things:

  • Really (adverb) can modify adjectives (really interesting), adverbs (really slowly), and verbs (I really love)
  • Very (adverb) can modify adjectives (very interesting) and adverbs (very slowly), but not verbs (I very love)
  • Really (exclamation) expresses surprise (Really?!)
  • Very (adjective) is combined with other nouns (at the very end)

Practice The Difference Between Really and Very

Complete the following sentences with really, very or both. You can then check the answers .

  • 1. I …… enjoy learning about different selling techniques.
  • 2. How beneficial is it to have a  ……  strict manager?
  • 3. She is  ……  good at coding.
  • 4. He had to wait until the  ……  end to bring up the topic.
  • 5. We  ……  want this company to thrive.
  • 6. I  ……  enjoy networking events.
  • 7. I don’t  ……  like meetings so much.
  • 8. I find some tasks  ……  boring.
  • 9. They sat at the  ……  back of the truck.
  • 10. I am  ……  sorry. It won’t happen again.
  • 11. I’m super involved in distance learning at the moment.  ……?
  • 12. She  ……  makes her work seem easy.
  • 13. They made me feel at home from the  ……  beginning.
  • 14. I  ……  love my job!
  • 15. They  ……  put a lot of effort into their projects.
  • 16. They might actually be arriving at this  ……  moment.
  • 17. The production cost was  ……  high.
  • 18. The salaries in the IT industry are currently  ……  high.
  • 19. We still do not have enough women at the  ……  top.
  • 20. Make sure employees understand their goals from the  ……  beginning.

Talaera - Really vs Very Exercise PDF

And Now That You Know Them, Why Not Get Rid Of Them?

Wait, what?

Well, we thought that now that you know the difference between really and very, we’d advise you not to use them.

This is not fully true, though. Our recommendation is that you use them in moderation. English is such a rich language, and it has hundreds of words that you can use to replace these adverbs. Use thrilling instead of very exciting or gifted, instead of very talented.

Instead of very - Vocabulary List Talaera

Click here or on the image above to get a comprehensive list of words you can use instead of very.

Looking for more ways to improve your business English communication?

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