harshly vs. heavily


Senior Member
Chinese - Hong Kong
The child who broke the window is asking the teacher to punish him less "harshly" or "heavily".

I think both are correct and "heavily" is more about physical punishment. Am I right? Thank you!
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'Harshly' is more about whether the punishment is a bad kind of punishment: is being hit with a strap too cruel to do? Is it inappropriate for a small offence like breaking a window? 'Heavily' is more about the amount of punishment: is being hit ten times too much, and should it only be two or three times? A million-dollar fine on a company that pollutes a river might be heavy (and the company might want the amount reduced), but it would not be harsh to merely take money from a big company.
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