Common English mistakes and mix-ups: hard vs hardly

‘Hard’ is an adjective that can mean ‘solid’, ‘industrious’, or ‘difficult’:

“If you burn your toast it becomes too hard to eat.” (solid)

“My mother is a really hard worker.” (industrious)

“Learning English can be hard!” (difficult)

‘Hardly’ is an adverb that usually means ‘almost no/not/none’ or with the word ‘can’ or ‘could’–>’almost impossible/very very difficult’ . There are other meanings, but these two are really common.

“Turn up the volume! I can hardly hear the TV!”

“There is hardly enough bread to make 2 sandwiches!”

“She hardly ever calls me. I miss her!”

The common mix-up that usually happens is this:

“I am a good student and I want to study English hardly!”

This sentence is not only grammatically incorrect, but it has the opposite meaning of what this person is intending. Make sure that if you want to talk about ‘working or studying industriously’ use ‘hard’.

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