Uses of ‘Almost’, ‘Nearly’ and ‘Practically’ (Synonyms and Differences)
These tree words have similar meanings and are used frequently with the following words;
almost; certainly, all, every, entirely, impossible, empty.
nearly; (numbers), all, always, every, finished, died.
practically; all, every, no, nothing, impossible, anything.
- They are used in positive sentences;
She almost/nearly/practically missed her train.
- They can be used before words like all, every and everybody.;
Nearly all the students have bikes.
I’ve got practically every CD they’ve made.
*Practically is used more in spoken than in written English.
*Nearly is the most common with numbers;
There were nearly 200 people at the meeting.
- They can also be used in negative sentences but it is more common to make a positive sentence with only just;
We only just got there in time. (or: We almost/neary/ didn’t get here in time.)
- Almost and practically can be used before words like any, anybody, anything etc.
I’ll eat almost anything.
- You can also use them before no, nobody, never etc. but it is much more common to use hardly or scarcely with any, anybody, ever etc.;
She’s hardly ever in. (or: She’s almost never in.)
- Almost can be used when you are saying that one thing is similar to another;
The boat looked almost like a toy.
- You can use very and so before nearly.
He was very nearly caught.