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 … )
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 … –
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.|