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Thread: really vs. very

  1. #1
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    really vs. very

    this shows really little wear
    this shows very little wear

    Does anyone perceive a huge difference?

    Context: listing a tennis racquet for sale

  2. #2
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    Re: really vs. very

    I don't think I'd ever say 'really little wear'.

  3. #3
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    Re: really vs. very

    I perceive a huge difference in naturalness. 'really little wear' sounds very unnatural to me. In fact it sounds really unnatural.


    Cross-posted.
    "A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the other one." - Baltasar Gracián

  4. #4
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    Re: really vs. very

    It came naturally across my keyboard, and that's when I started this thread.

    Is it an Americanism? It does sound natural to me, but I thought it may be not the best way to describe the racquet(s).

    Does AE use "really" more as an intensifier than BE does?

    EDIT: What if it were: There's really little interest in this topic.
    Last edited by perpend; 4th May 2013 at 3:25 AM.

  5. #5
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    Re: really vs. very

    Google Ngram viewer shows really little difference between AE and BE for "really little".

  6. #6
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    Re: really vs. very

    I could say 'there's really very little wear'. Maybe you should let us see the full sentence, perpend. (Cross-posted)

    ADDED: Let's see the curve, then.

  7. #7
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    Re: really vs. very

    http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph...thing=3&share= (BE)
    http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph...thing=3&share= (AE)

    "really little wear" or "really little anything else that comes to mind" produces no results, so the curves may be meaningless for this thread.

    EDIT: "really little hope" produced some results

    http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph...thing=3&share= (BE)
    http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph...thing=3&share= (AE)
    Last edited by srk; 4th May 2013 at 3:48 AM.

  8. #8
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    Re: really vs. very

    That is the full sentence in my description of the racquet: There's really little wear.

    Let's say the cereal is almost gone. You just had a bowl, and you give the box to your spouse, and say "There's really little left."

    That sounds normal to me, and I can't explain why. You would probably say the "really" in a certain voice/tone, because you feel bad that you almost ate it all.

  9. #9
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    Re: really vs. very

    >> That sounds normal to me, and I can't explain why.

    I'm not sure that it needs explaining.

    For me, it's a bizarre clash of registers. That particular use of 'really' being rather informal, and that use of 'little' being towards the other end of the formality spectrum.

    So I could countenance 'there's really not much left' or 'there's very little left' < --- you've got me talking about cereal! (is that really how you spell 'tennis racket'?)

  10. #10
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    Re: really vs. very

    For me, it has the feeling of the word "pretty" as in "That's pretty good". There has to be doubt in someone's mind (the speaker or someone else's) about the validity of the statement for the word pretty to be used in this sense. That explains "really" in the case of the cereal box for me, but not for an ad for a racquet.

  11. #11
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    Re: really vs. very

    Yes, you've commanded the cereal scenario.

    I'm pretty sure it's technically "racquet". WR's spell checker does not like it, though.

    EDIT: Cross-posted with srk.
    Last edited by perpend; 4th May 2013 at 4:13 AM.

  12. #12
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    Re: really vs. very

    >> Yes, you've commanded the cereal scenario.

    I'll have to take your word for that.

    Here's a potentially sensible comparison: Google Ngram Viewer: really little vs. very little vs. war on terror

    WR has no spell checker that we're aware of.

  13. #13
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    Re: really vs. very

    When I write racquet on WR, it gets red-underlined. (So did WR just now, just to inform you.)

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