Hard vs Hardly – Adjective & Adverb English Lesson

Michael Confusing Words, Grammar Leave a Comment

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Many adjectives become an adverb by adding ly and the meaning basically stays the same:

  • Tommy is a quick runner….He runs quickly
  • Tomoko is a beautiful dancer….She dances beautifully.
  • Jack is a slow worker….He works slowly.

For today’s English lesson, we are going to have a look at one word that is an exception to this rule,

  1. Hard is used as both an adjective and an adverb, but the meanings of hard as an adjective, and the meanings of the adverbs hard and hardly are different from each other. Let’s have a look at all of this.

As an adjective, hard has basically two meanings. First, hard means solid, firm, or not soft:

  • The sofa is soft, but the table is hard.
  • The bread became hard because I forgot to put it in a plastic bag.
  • I think this steel is too hard to drill through.

In addition, the adjective hard means difficult:

  • It was a hard exam, but I was able to get a good score.
  • Having a pet is hard work, but I love my dog.
  • Jack’s wife was cheating on him. That’s a hard situation to deal with.

Hard is also used as an adverb which means with a great deal of effort or strongly. As an adverb, hard comes after the verb.

  • It was raining hard all afternoon.
  • Nick works hard every day in his office.
  • If you study hard, you will be able to speak English well!

We also have the adverb hardly, but as an adverb, the meaning is different from the other meanings. The adverb hardly means “almost not” or “barely.”

  • Jack hardly worked at all today. Jack did almost no work, he barely worked.
  • I hardly studied for the exam. I barely studied, I only studied very little.
  • Jenny has the flu, so she hardly ate anything. She barely ate anything, she ate almost nothing.

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