I was recently asked the difference between
hardly, scarcely, barely, seldom, rarely and hardly ever
so let me explain:
Hardly, scarcely and barely refer to how easily something happens. However, as all the words have a negative nuance, it means that the event is/was or will be difficult, and is/was or will be only just achieved
Hardly emphasizes the difficulty. e.g. I could hardly endure the pain.
Scarcely suggests a very narrow success margin which is unsatisfactory. e.g. He can scarcely read.
Barely stresses the narrowness of the success margin. e.g. We barely succeeded.
They are quite synonymous (i.e. they have very similar meanings, so can therefore be used interchangeably for the most part).
Seldom, rarely and hardly ever refer to how often something happens, although again, as they have a negative nuance they all mean the event doesn’t happen very often at all.
So what’s the difference between hardly and hardly ever?
Try these questions to see if you know:
1A: How much did you learn?
B: I _______ learned anything.
2A: How often do you go there?
3A: I’m so fat.
B: No, you’re not! You _______ eat!
Let me know you’re answers and I’ll post the correct answers next time.
Then write me your own examples using each of the words.