How to use Almost, Nearly

Almost and nearly can both express ideas connected with progress, measurement, or counting. Nearly is less common in American English.
I’ve almost/nearly finished.
There were almost/nearly a thousand people there.

Sometimes almost is a little ‘nearer’ than nearly.

It’s nearly ten o’clock. (= perhaps 9.45)
It’s almost ten o’clock. (= perhaps 9.57)

Very and pretty can be used with nearly but not almost.
I’ve very/pretty nearly finished.
(Not … very almost … )

Other meanings

We can use almost to mean ‘similar to, but not exactly the same’, and to make statements less definite. Nearly is not used like this.
jack is almost like a father to me.
Our cat understands everything – he’s almost human.
(NOT … he’s nearly
My aunt’s got a strange accent. She almost sounds foreign.
(NOT … She
nearly sounds foreign.)
I almost wish I’d stayed at home.
(NOT nearly wish... )

We do not usually use nearly before negative pronouns or adverbs like never, nobody, nothing. Instead, we use almost, or we use hardly with ever, anybody, anything etc.
She’s almost never / hardly ever at home. (NOT … nearly never … )
Almost nobody / hardly anybody was there.

We also prefer almost before everybody/ -one/ -thing/ -where, and almost is
much more common than
nearly before anybody/ -one/ -thing/ -where.

She likes almost everybody.
He’s been almost everywhere.
Almost anybody can do this job.
He eats almost anything.

Practically can be used in the same way as almost.

I’ve practically finished.
She’s practically never at home.
Jack is practically like a father to me.


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