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really vs. very

Discussion in 'English Only' started by perpend, May 4, 2013.

  1. perpend

    perpend Senior Member

    American English
    this shows really little wear
    this shows very little wear

    Does anyone perceive a huge difference?

    Context: listing a tennis racquet for sale
     
  2. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    I don't think I'd ever say 'really little wear'.
     
  3. heypresto

    heypresto Senior Member

    South East England
    English - England
    I perceive a huge difference in naturalness. 'really little wear' sounds very unnatural to me. In fact it sounds really unnatural. :)


    Cross-posted.
     
  4. perpend

    perpend Senior Member

    American English
    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: May 4, 2013
  5. srk Senior Member

    South Bend, Indiana
    English - US
    Google Ngram viewer shows really little difference between AE and BE for "really little".
     
  6. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    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. srk Senior Member

    South Bend, Indiana
    English - US
    Last edited: May 4, 2013
  8. perpend

    perpend Senior Member

    American English
    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. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    >> 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! :rolleyes: (is that really how you spell 'tennis racket'?)
     
  10. srk Senior Member

    South Bend, Indiana
    English - US
    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. perpend

    perpend Senior Member

    American English
    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: May 4, 2013
  12. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    >> 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. perpend

    perpend Senior Member

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

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