barely, hardly, scarcely

Does it make a difference which of these adverbs (hardly, barely, scarcely) I use in this sentence? It seems like they all have the same meaning, right? Are some of them more formal or more colloquial than the others?

I've hardly/barely/scarcely spend any money in the last few weeks because I need to save money for a new car.
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    They are sometimes interchangeable, yes. But there’s always some nuance if you use a different word.

    Hardly is the most common of the three, in general. It fits most situations.

    Barely is perhaps more suitable in the sense of “only just”:

    In the darkness, I could barely make out what was going on.
    I had barely taken my seat when the curtain went up.
    And scarcely in the sense of “only with difficulty”:
    I could scarcely have been more surprised when she turned up at my door.
    She was so disgusted by what he had done that she could scarcely look at him.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    No. I didn’t say that. But in my view, hardly is by far the best word to use in that sentence (which needs to use spent, not spend).


    Senior Member
    He doesn't like seeing the people. So he doesn't visit anybody nor does he want anybody to visit him. So, we barely/hardly/scarcely see him.

    Are three of them work in the sentence above?


    Senior Member
    English - England
    I don’t think any of them works very well in that particular sentence. Even with hardly, you need to add “ever”.

    So we hardly ever see him. :thumbsup:

    If you use barely or scarcely see, you imply that he’s not easily visible!