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Actually or Really

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Emphatic devices

There are a number of ways of adding emphasis to part of a sentence in English. Actually and really can be used to make part of a sentence or a whole sentence more emphatic.


Actually is used to introduce something unexpected or to reinforce opinion.
Although she failed the test, she is actually very bright.
Yes, you were right; it was actually an amazing concert.


Really can be used to make a verb or a sentence less emphatic and to make a verb more emphatic depending on its position.

Really – less emphatic
They weren’t interested in my photographs really.
They weren’t really interested in my photographs.

More emphatic
They really weren’t interested in my photographs.
They were really interested in my photographs

Lesson by Tristan, teacher at EC Malta English school

Choose between actually or really for the following:

  • 1. I don’t _ think much of her cooking.

  • 2. He doesn’t _ feel very well.

  • 3. That fried chicken was _ quite good.

  • 4. I don’t _ agree with that.

  • 5. Well, _ I think pizzas are very unhealthy.

  • 6. You’ll find that some fruit is _ quite fattening.

  • 7. I think fish and chips _ aren’t healthy.

  • 8. Sometimes I feel like a _ huge burger.

  • 9. He is _ overweight.

  • 10. It’s not _ much of a restaurant. It’s more like a snack bar.

  • 11. _ I don’t fancy a big meal.

  • 12. _ I think fish is rather overpriced.