How To Use ‘Actually’ Correctly

You can use the word actually in many ways in English, but you can’t use it to mean “now”. The word actually doesn’t mean “currently” or “at present”. Instead, it’s used when we give information.

Here are the five uses of actually, along with synonyms.

How to use ‘actually’

1. To talk about things which are true or which really happened
We can use ‘actually’ in this situation to emphasise that something happened, or to show that the fact could be different from what people think. Some examples:

“What actually happened?”
(Synonym: really. “What really happened?”)

“I’m sorry you didn’t get the job.”
“Well, actually I don’t mind. The commute would have been horrible.”
(Synonyms: In fact / really. “Well, in fact I don’t mind…” / “Well, I don’t mind really…”)

2. For surprising information
When you think that someone will be surprised or maybe not even believe you. Some examples:

“It’s actually quite easy to do this.”
(Synonym: As a matter of fact / In fact, it’s quite easy to do this.”)

Do you mind? Actually, I do.
(Synonym: As a matter of fact / In fact, I do.”)

“It’s funny, actually, but after five days of not eating dairy food, I hate the smell of cheese.”
(Synonym: really. “It’s funny, really, but…”)

“I actually got a reply from the bank!”
(Synonym: “You’re not going to believe this, but…”)

3. Give more details
Use ‘actually’ at the beginning or end of the sentence to add more information. For example:

“They just bought a new house. Actually it’s more like a mansion! / It’s more like a mansion, actually.”
(Synonyms: in fact, literally. “In fact, it’s more like a mansion.” / “It’s literally more like a mansion.”)

4 . Introduce a new topic of conversation
If you want to change the topic of conversation, you can use ‘actually’ to make it more smooth. For example:

“Actually, I wanted to ask you about your friend who does colour consultation…”
(Synonym: “As a matter of fact…”)

5. Contradicting or correcting someone
“Actually” is a polite way to do this. For example:

“Actually, my name is Sue, not Sarah.”

“Well, actually, you aren’t quite right about that…”
(Synonyms: “in actual fact” / “in fact”)

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