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Monday, 5 September 2011

Stuart's Daily Word Spot: Partly or partially?

Freddie Mercury statue in Montreux, sculpted b...Image via Wikipedia
Partly or partially?
Partly: adverb - as a part of, in part; not wholly, but to some extent.
Partially: adverb - to some extent, partly, in part, not completely; biased, partial, unfair, unjust; (now a rare usage) - with special affection or favour.

Yet another English pairing which excites some into defending the use of one against the other, when, in most respects, they’re interchangeable.

If you’re discussing something that’s not complete, you can use either. Only if you’re talking about preference, justice, fairness etc., do you need to be certain to use ‘partially’. Think of its antonym, ‘impartial’, which means ‘neutral’ and it should help avoid any confusion.

So:
‘The leg of the buried body was partly exposed when Genevieve’s dog dug around the mound in the forest.’

‘Genevieve’s leg was partially exposed when Gordon shifted the sheet before he slipped in beside her.’

But:
‘The judge treated Mary partially, giving her a non-custodial sentence when she flashed her most inviting and provocative smile at him.’

5 September 1946 Queen singer, Freddie Mercury was born: sobering to think that, had he live, he would have been 65 and therefore an old age pensioner today.


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