Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. My name is Alisha. Today, I'm going to talk about how to use the word "almost." I'm going to show a few different example sentences and give you a couple pointers, some things to watch out for when you're using this word.
First, let's look at the meaning of the word "almost." "Almost" is an adverb. It's a word that means nearly, or not quite, or not completely. It can also mean similar to something, but not exactly like something. I've got a lot of example sentences here that I hope to talk about, to explain, the use of "almost." Before I do that, though, I want to mention this point over here. "Almost" comes before the word it modifies. Modifies means "almost" is attached. You can think of it as being attached to another word and almost changes the meaning of that word. Using "almost" before another word or before another phrase adds this meaning of nearly, or not quite, or not completely, to that word or to that phrase.
Let's begin with that and look at a few examples. "I almost forgot my homework." Here, "almost" comes before the verb "forgot" in this case meaning "I nearly forgot my homework." Like I said, "almost" should come before the word it modifies. Here, it's modifying the word "forgot." I nearly forgot my homework. I was very close to forgetting my homework. Another example. "He almost always calls on his way home." Here, it comes before the word "always" in this case. "Almost always" meaning maybe 95% of the time or 90% of the time. Not always, but nearly, very nearly always calls on his way home is the meaning of this sentence. Let's look at another one, maybe an opposite meaning here. "They almost never leave the house." Here, we've got "never" as the word that "almost" is modifying. "Almost never" means, you can think of it in terms of a percentage. For example, 5% of the time they leave the house. Very, very close to zero, but not quite zero. "Almost never," not quite never, but very near to never. The next one: "You are almost finished." You're almost finished. Here, "almost" is modifying the word "finished." In other words, you're nearly finished in this case. Maybe, you're nearly finished with your job for the day, or you're nearly finished with your homework, for example. You're almost finished is the meaning here. Let's look at the next sentence, then. The next sentence is "We're almost home." We're almost home. In this case, "almost" is modifying the word "home." "Home," in this case, means at your place of residence, to be in a status of being at your place, at you're dwelling, at your residence. "To be almost home" means nearly at your house, in other words. We can modify in this way. Similar to this negative I used up here with "never," we've got "There's almost nothing left in the refrigerator." Again, almost nothing in this case. Very nearly, no things, very nearly maybe nothing to eat or no food in the refrigerator. This sentence means there's something in the refrigerator, a few things maybe, but almost nothing. Very little of something.
The next sentence shows another point that I want to make about the placement of the word "almost." I mentioned in these initial example sentences that the word "almost" comes before the word it modifies, as we've seen so far. However, when you're using the verb "to be" and the variations of it like "was" and "were," for example, "almost" comes after that verb. Let's look at an example of that. Here I have "He was almost fired from his job." "Here" is my to be verb. In this case using "was." He was almost fired from his job. Here, "almost" follows the verb to be. This is a slight change. I'll show you one more example sentence later. Again, let's go back to this first pattern. "Almost no one came to her party." Here, "almost" begins the sentence. It's modifying the word "no one." Almost no one came to her party, meaning very few people came to her party. Lastly let's look at one more "to be" example. Here, "I was almost late for the movie." Again, here's our to be verb, "I was," and "almost" follows that to be verb. I was almost late for the movie.
These are quite a few examples of how we can use "almost." I want to talk a little bit about some other ways to use "almost." We use "almost" with time and quantity expressions. In these cases, we use the word "almost" before the time or before the quantity. Let's look at some examples. For example, "We've been waiting almost two hours." Here, "two hours" is a length of time. We use "almost" before that. Nearly two hours, not quite two hours but nearly two hours. The next example, "I've lived here for almost five years." That doesn't mean five years exactly but very nearly five years. Same thing here. "He said they were almost," I'm sorry, "he said there were almost 5,000 people." Almost five thousand, not quite. Maybe 4,900 for example. Very nearly 5,000. Again, "The recipe made almost 200 cookies." Again, not quite is the meaning here. All of these, we use this when maybe it's easier to round up to use the next easily recognizable number. It might sound strange in the last example to say "the recipe made 498 cookies." It sounds very, very specific, and it also sounds like maybe the speaker counted each individual cookie. Sometimes, that's really not reasonable, or it might just sound a little bit strange, or also it's just, sometimes, not possible to count exactly how many people or how many of something were in a situation, but using almost we can make a guess sometimes. This is quite a useful thing for time and quantity expressions.
As we've seen so far in this lesson, we can use "always" with words like "always" and "never." I used it over here. For example, "he almost always" and "they almost never." Just keep in mind that these have very, very different meanings, kind of opposite meanings. "I almost always" means very nearly always, and "almost never" means very nearly never, but not quite. Same thing with "all" or "nothing" or "no." I used an example here. "There's almost nothing," for example. Here, it means very close to zero. If I used "almost all," like "almost all the people were happy," it means very nearly everybody as well. You can see a pattern here. The same one is we can see here at the end, "everyone" and "no one." It's extreme, like 100% versus zero percent of something. All or nothing. Everyone or no one. We can use "almost" to show that we are very near to these levels, but not quite at these levels.
The last thing I want to mention in this lesson is a word of caution. Just be careful about where you place "almost" in a sentence, because it can really affect the meaning of the sentence. Here, let's look at two very similar sentences. One, "he almost told his boss all the secrets;" and two, "he told his boss almost all the secrets." These are very different sentences but they seem very similar. Here, I've used "almost" before the verb "told." "Almost" is modifying the word "told" here. He almost told his boss all the secrets, meaning he very nearly told his boss all the secrets but he did not. He did not. Here, "almost" modifies this verb, "told," meaning the action itself. He almost did this action but he did not do the action. In this sentence, however, "he told his boss almost all the secrets." "Almost," because of its positioning, is modifying the word "all." "He told his boss almost all the secrets," meaning he told his boss very nearly everything all of the secrets. Maybe 95%, 90 to 95% of the secrets he told his boss. The action happened, he did tell his boss, but he didn't tell everything, in this case. Please keep this in mind. Your placement, the place in the sentence where you use the word "almost" can create very, very different meanings. Remember this point here, "almost" should come before the word it modifies. When you're writing and when you're speaking, you should think carefully about this. Also, remember when you're using the verb "to be," "almost" should come after that verb.
Finally, when you're speaking, as I am right now, we do have the ability to use our voices. We can emphasize key words. We can stress them with our voices to make it clear which word we want to emphasize. However, we can't really do that in writing. So, it's really important to consider, to think about, where we place the word "almost" when we're writing.
I hope that this lesson was useful for you. If you have any questions or any comments, please feel free to let us know in the comment section below this video. Thanks very much for watching this lesson. I will see you again soon. Bye-bye!

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Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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EnglishClass101.com Verified
Sunday at 05:22 PM
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Hi Mukti,


You're welcome. ๐Ÿ˜‡

If you ever have any questions, please let us know.


Kind regards,

Levente

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Mukti Prakash Datta
Sunday at 02:34 AM
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Thanks

EnglishClass101.com
Wednesday at 01:00 AM
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Hello Mimi,


Thankyou for your post. ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ‘


Using the word 'for' here is making the statement abit more formal.


Feel free to ask us any more questions you have throughout your studies.


Cheers,

Eva

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mimi
Saturday at 12:42 AM
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Hi!

I'm just wondering why one sentence has the word "for"and the other doesn't it ,even if both are showed the time period.


We've been waiting almost two hours.

I've lived here for almost five years.