A comparison between <approximately>, <nearly> etc.

A-friend

Senior Member
Persian (Farsi)
Hello everyone

Please have a look on my scenario and let me know which options sound more idiomatic in each blank?

- A) Sam, we haven’t met for over 3 years. I heard that you had a baby last year.
B) Yes, a baby boy.
A) Really? What did you name him?
B) Sebastian.
A) Nice, congratulations bro.
B) Thank you. But did you know that he is _________ 2 years old now.
A) Wow, really? I didn't know that. I though he might be several months at most. Has he started walking?
B) Yes, he's _________ walking now.

a. almost
b. nearly
c. practically
d. roughly
e. approximately

I think all the options work in the forst blank and only the first three choice work in the second space. However, I need your confirmation on my take.

Thank you.
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Only (a) and (b) work in the first. "Roughly" and "approximately" are not used with ages, not when you know when a person was born. You are "two" from your second birthday to your third birthday, so there is no room for "approximately" or "roughly". "Practically" would be a very unusual alternative to "nearly".

    However, "practically" is the obvious choice in the second gap (even though, literally, it does not fit), but "nearly" and "almost" are also fine. Neither (d) nor (e) work.
     

    A-friend

    Senior Member
    Persian (Farsi)
    Only (a) and (b) work in the first. "Roughly" and "approximately" are not used with ages, not when you know when a person was born. You are "two" from your second birthday to your third birthday, so there is no room for "approximately" or "roughly". "Practically" would be a very unusual alternative to "nearly".

    However, "practically" is the obvious choice in the second gap (even though, literally, it does not fit), but "nearly" and "almost" are also fine. Neither (d) nor (e) work.
    Hello UJ 😊
    Thank you very much for the information. That was really helpful. Just I wonder how would be "about" and "around" in these two blanks?
    I think, in first blank they both work, but in second none of them would work.
    Do you agree?

    Also, I don't know what does "practically" mean?! Why it cannot work here, while this is an alternative for "almost" by many dictionaries?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    No. Approximations of any kind are not used with ages expressed in years when you know the person's date of birth, which a parent does, You can use "almost" and its synonyms, and you can also use "just turned", but that is about it. Of course, you can also use "and a half/quarter" and things like that, if you want greater precision.

    "Practically" really means in effect, saying that "in practice, he/she/it is/they are..."
    In this case, it would mean "in practice he is walking" (he isn't really walking, but he is doing something that has the same effect). This is quite clearly not the case, but "practically" has morphed into meaning "nearly" and, as I said, it is the obvious choice with your walking sentence.

    In the nearly 2 years old sentence, "practically" does not quite fit, but I cannot quite place my finger on why not. In another situation it can be used with ages, but it seems out of place here.
     

    A-friend

    Senior Member
    Persian (Farsi)
    No. Approximations of any kind are not used with ages expressed in years when you know the person's date of birth, which a parent does, You can use "almost" and its synonyms, and you can also use "just turned", but that is about it. Of course, you can also use "and a half/quarter" and things like that, if you want greater precision.

    "Practically" really means in effect, saying that "in practice, he/she/it is/they are..."
    In this case, it would mean "in practice he is walking" (he isn't really walking, but he is doing something that has the same effect). This is quite clearly not the case, but "practically" has morphed into meaning "nearly" and, as I said, it is the obvious choice with your walking sentence.

    In the nearly 2 years old sentence, "practically" does not quite fit, but I cannot quite place my finger on why not. In another situation it can be used with ages, but it seems out of place here.
    Perfect explanation. Thank you very much UJ. 🙏🏻😊🌸
     
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