Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. My name is Alisha. In this lesson, I'm going to talk about some differences between the words "almost" and "barely." Let's get started. I want to start this lesson with the word "almost." For this lesson, I want to mention both "almost" and "barely" are adverbs. They have the same grammatical function, but they have opposite. We can think of them as having the opposite meaning. Let's start by talking about "almost" and the meaning of "almost." "Almost" can mean very nearly but not exactly. It can mean not entirely or not completely. I think this is best to explain with some example sentences. I'm going to share some example sentences that use "almost" in a couple different ways. Let's look at this first sentence. "I almost missed my flight." I almost missed my flight. "To miss a flight" means you can't catch the flight, you're not in time for the flight. I almost missed my flight. We know "almost" means very nearly, or not entirely, or not completely. If we think about it, which of these fits nicely into this sentence? I feel "very nearly" is a great one to substitute. "I very nearly missed my flight." "I nearly missed my flight" means I caught my flight. I was very, very close. "I very nearly did not catch my flight" is another way to say this. We say "I almost missed." That means this action came very close to happening but it did not happen. Let's look at another example, then. "She almost fell off her bicycle." Or, "She almost fell off of her bicycle" is also okay. Here, the verb is "fell off." Fell off, past tense of fall off. That means she was riding a bicycle or, in this case, fall off. Fell off refers to riding, in this case a bicycle, and losing balance. Falling to the side, becoming separated from the bicycle. She almost fell off her bicycle. Here, we can use the same idea. Let's substitute "very nearly" for "almost" here. "She very nearly fell off her bicycle." This means she did not fall off her bicycle, but she almost or she very nearly did. It was very, very close to happening. Maybe, she lost her balance on the bicycle but she fixed it. She was able to continue writing her bicycle. Something that very nearly happened was this. This is the thing that very nearly happened, but it did not exactly happen. She almost fell off. This thing did not happen, in other words. Okay. Let's move on to a different way of using "almost." This next sentence, "Almost everyone got a raise." Here we can think of this with "very nearly." That works well here. Or, maybe, "not entirely." That's another good one. Or, "not completely." All of these can fit well in this sentence to substitute. Almost everyone, very nearly everyone, got a raise. That means not everyone, but very close to everyone. If there are 100 people in your company, maybe that means 95 people got a raise. Very close to everyone. Very close to all people got a raise. Not everyone, not everything, not entirely everyone, not completely everyone, but very nearly everyone got a raise.
All right. Now, let's look at, maybe, the most challenging example sentence here. Let's read it first. "We almost didn't make it to the conference." We almost didn't make it to the conference. In this sentence, if we remove the word "almost" here, we didn't make it to the conference. It means we were not able to get to the conference. We couldn't make it in time for the conference. However, if we include "almost," that means we very nearly didn't make it to the conference. That shows we were able to. It was, maybe, difficult but we were able to actually make it to the conference.
Okay. Let's move along to one more, a common one, perhaps. "You almost forgot your wallet." You almost forgot your wallet. Again, you very nearly forgot your wallet. We can compare the same thing we did in this sentence, removing "almost." "You forgot your wallet" means the wallet was left behind. You don't have your wallet. However, "you almost forgot your wallet," is imagine someone is running out the door to go to work and their roommate or their spouse shouts this, "You almost forgot your wallet. Here. You very nearly left the house without your wallet. Here it is." This expression, "almost," this word shows things that were very close to happening, but they did not happen. We see that a lot when we have "almost" in front of a verb, like in these example sentences. Here, where we have it in front of a group of people, for example, it shows us not entirely as the meaning.
Okay. Let's compare this to "barely" now. I mentioned "almost" and "barely" are like opposites, a little bit. Again, "barely" is an adverb. "Barely" means only just. It can mean scarcely, hardly. It can also mean nothing to spare. I'll show some examples of this. We can think about "barely," like almost not something. Let's compare some example sentences here. First one, "I barely made my flight connection." I barely made my flight connection. Here, we see "barely" before a verb, "made." To make a flight or to make a flight connection, in this case, means to be on time, to be able to go through the airport and catch your flight in time. I barely made my flight connection. We can substitute these words again, as we did with "almost." "I only just made my flight connection." "I made my flight connection with nothing to spare or no time to spare." This "barely" shows us something was really difficult but I did it. This did happen. I barely made my flight connection. The next example sentence. "She barely fit into the truck." Imagine fit into, like imagine someone is moving to a new house, a truck is full of boxes and all kinds of objects from someone's house. the truck is really, really full. She might say, or someone might say, "she barely fit into," like her body barely fit into the truck because it was so full. "Barely," again, we can substitute with "only just." "She barely," or "she only just fit into the truck," means she was able to fit into the truck. She did it. It was possible.
Okay. Let's look at another one. "He was barely able to get tickets to the concert." He was barely able to get tickets to the concert. Again, "he was only just able to get tickets to the concert." That means, maybe it was difficult to do this. There were maybe just a few tickets left and he purchased the tickets in time before they were all sold out. "He was barely able." That means this was possible. He achieved this thing.
Okay. Let's look now at the next example. "Barely anyone came to the conference." This one is going to be a little bit different. We can't substitute "only just" in this case. In this case, in a sample sentence like this, let's substitute "hardly" for this one. "Hardly anyone came to the conference." That means almost no people came to the conference. Barely anyone shows us the turnout, or the number of participants was very, very low for the conference. This does not mean only just, it means very few or hardly.
All right. Let's move along to the last one. "We barely had enough time to finish our project." We barely had enough time. This is a common expression, "we barely had enough time to do something." Again, we barely had enough time shows us that there was nothing to spare. When we use it with an expression like time, it tends to be associated, it tends to relate to this nothing to spare idea. Meaning, no time to spare, no time to waste. Everything must be used efficiently. "We barely had enough time to finish our project," means we finished the project but it was really, really close. We almost didn't have enough time to finish the project.
I've done this a couple of times throughout the lesson, but actually, there are some cases where we can swap, we can exchange these two words and make the opposite version of a sentence. The first example sentence is a great example. "I almost missed my flight" and "I barely made my flight," or "I barely made my flight connection." These mean the same thing. They're just different ways of saying it. You'll notice with the verb "almost," I almost missed. This is a negative nuance. I almost didn't catch my flight. It almost didn't happen. Here, it's a more positive sounding verb. "I barely made my flight." It was very close to not happening but I did it. When you use "barely," you can think of this, like I said, like the opposite of "almost." These are actions when we use it with verbs that were very close to not happening, but it did happen. Over here, a reminder, "almost" is used for things that were very close to happening but did not happen.
There's another example I want to show you here from this one. "Barely anyone came to the conference." I've used this here, "barely anyone came to the conference," with this negative. Remember, we use some and any with negatives and positives. Here, I've used "barely anyone came to the conference." Over here, I used, "almost everyone" in this one. You'll notice that when we're using this positive expression, "almost everyone," we'll use something like this, everyone or everybody. However, this one we'll use "anyone" or "anybody." "Barely anybody." It's a more negative expression, so we don't use "barely everybody" or "barely everyone." Please use "barely anyone" here.
Okay. This is a quick introduction, I think, to a few different ways that you can use "barely" and almost, and the basic differences between these two. If you have any questions or comments or want to practice making some sentences with this information, please feel free to do so in the comment section of this video. Thanks very much for watching this lesson and I will see you again soon. Bye.


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