Accidentally VS coincidentally

Pingului

New Member
Cantonese - Hong Kong
Hello,

I come across this question and i don't know if I am correct. Please help, thanks :)

I found this book accidentally.
I found this book coincidentally.

If I want to convey the meaning that I found the book when I was tidying my room.
Which one should I use?
What is the difference?
Or under what circumstances should we use accidentally and under what should i use coincidentally.

Many thanks!!
 
  • Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    Neither of them sounds quite right in this context. Some examples:

    I reached out to take my mobile phone off the table and accidentally knocked over a jug of milk. (I was intentionally doing one thing, but something else happened that I hadn't planned.)

    I was talking to my friend about the film Cabaret and coincidentally it was shown on television that evening. (One thing happened and then something else connected with that thing happened – and nobody had planned it, it just occurred like that. I mean, talking about the film and then the same film being on television that evening).

    As you can see 'accidentally' is closest to being the word for finding your book when you weren't deliberately looking for it; but 'accidentally' does often have the connotation of something bad.

    I think I'd say 'unexpectedly' in your sentence – literally, you weren't expecting it, but it happened.
     

    Pingului

    New Member
    Cantonese - Hong Kong
    Thank you very much for the detailed explanation!

    But may I ask one more quick question?

    Is the below sentence correct?

    "I was viewing those suggested friends for me on Facebook and coincidentally I found my colleague Charles!"

    Thanks so much!!
     

    Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    Not really. The coincidence needs to be some surprising connecting idea between the two things: your friends and your colleague Charles have no obvious link.

    A coincidence: I go on holiday to Ibiza and I meet a colleague from work at the airport. It's a surprise. Neither of us knew we would be at the airport at the same time, but our presence at the airport 'coincided' – we were both there at exactly the same time.

    I tell my brother on the phone: I was at the airport and coincidentally I met my colleague from work.
     

    Pingului

    New Member
    Cantonese - Hong Kong
    Not really. The coincidence needs to be some surprising connecting idea between the two things: your friends and your colleague Charles have no obvious link.

    A coincidence: I go on holiday to Ibiza and I meet a colleague from work at the airport. It's a surprise. Neither of us knew we would be at the airport at the same time, but our presence at the airport 'coincided' – we were both there at exactly the same time.

    I tell my brother on the phone: I was at the airport and coincidentally I met my colleague from work.
    Thanks a lot Chez! :)
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    I'd say "I found this book by accident." I'd also prefer the order "I came across this book accidentally". To specify the context, you could put "While I was cleaning [tidying up?] my room, I..." or "I found...while I was...". (An idiom you could use: "I came across this book..." The idea is "by accident", so you wouldn't need to worry about this :)!) I wouldn't use coincidentally. [With all due respect to Chez, I wouldn't use 'coincidentally' in the sentence she or he proposed.]
     

    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
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