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Grammar Chaos: (E)Specially Difficult to Distinguish

Specially and Especially are a tricky pair of words. Their definitions are so close that you simply can’t avoid mixing up the two. The difference is determined by the context in which the term is used.


Especially for you

Specially is an adverb, with the adjective form special. Special means “distinguished in a distinct way; for a particular purpose.” Special is a common adjective, and we already know what it means.


Similarly, especially is an adverb, with the adjective form especial. The adjective is a lot less popular and a lot less used than the adverb, so we use it with caution. Especial means “exceptional; noteworthy; particular,” so especially means “in an exceptional, noteworthy, or particular manner.”

Especially vs Specially

If you look at the two words closely, both of them can mean “particular.” This is where the confusion stems from. To better understand the difference between the two, let’s use them in a sentence.


   The dress was sewn specially for this event.

Here, the dress has a particular purpose, which is to be used in an event.


   The dress was sewn especially well.

Here, a comment was made not specifically about the dress but rather about how it was made.


So the next time you’re faced with this dilemma, remember this: if you want to stress an exceptional or noteworthy quality, use especially. If you want to stress a particular purpose, use specially.


Now that wasn’t especially hard, was it?



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