Saturday, September 14, 2013


photo: of a 40% off sale. HARD to resist. For an ESL lesson.
Sales like this one are just HARD to resist. I quickly decided to get two pounds
and HARDLY had to think twice about it. I'm cooking one pound & freezing the rest.

The words HARD and HARDLY can be confusing to English learners because the two words look directly related. You might think that HARDLY is simply the adverb of HARD. However, it isn't. The adverb of "HARD" is actually also "HARD." The word "HARD," therefore, can either be an adjective or an adverb, while "HARDLY" can only be an adverb.  

In addition, while these two words may seem similar in meaning, in fact, they are almost direct opposites. The word "HARD" means "strong," "tough," or "difficult" as an adjective, and "with a lot of energy and determination" as an adverb. "HARDLY," on the other hand, only works as an adverb and means "not really" or "almost not."

Here are some examples:
1. Our final exam was so HARD. (adj. difficult)
2. We worked very HARD on our project. (adv. with a lot of energy)
3. I was late for the meeting, but my manager HARDLY noticed. (adv. not really/almost didn't. This means that the manager probably noticed but didn't make a big deal out of it, perhaps because there were more important issues to deal with.)
4. One member of our group HARDLY did any work. It's unfair that he'll be getting the same grade as we are. (adv. not really)
5. We thought long and HARD about our final project for the semester. (adv. with a lot of energy & determination)

Well, I hope this lesson helped clear up the difference between these two words? Btw, I've also posted a lesson on this topic at the small guide site. If you haven't seen it, please check it out and start using HARD & HARDLY to practice! Take care, and good luck! 

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