almost - nearly

almost - nearly
used to modify adjectives and noun groups
Almost and nearly both mean `not completely' or `not quite'. They are usually used in front of adjectives or noun groups.

The hay was almost ready for cutting.

We're nearly ready now.

I spent almost a month in China.

He spent nearly five years in the Leningrad special hospital.

It was made of wood like almost all the houses.

She liked doing nearly all the things we liked doing.

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used to modify verbs
Almost and nearly can also be used with verbs. If there is no auxiliary, you put almost or nearly in front of the verb.

Fanny almost fainted.

We almost ran over some little animal.

Dad nearly died after being bitten by a button-spider.

I nearly smashed the phone in fury.

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If there is an auxiliary, you put almost or nearly after the auxiliary.

Arthur had almost forgotten the poisoned cakes.

Some have almost reached International Master level.

He had nearly fallen flat on his face.

Dougal had nearly run out of food.

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If there is more than one auxiliary, you put almost or nearly after the first one.

I've nearly been drowned in it three times.

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For a graded list of words which are used with verbs to indicate extent, see section on extent in entry at ↑ Adverbials.
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used to modify adverbials
Almost and nearly can also be used in front of some time adverbials such as `every morning' and `every day', and in front of some place adverbials such as `there' and `home'.

We took to going out almost every evening.

I used to ride nearly every day.

We are almost there.

I think we are nearly there.

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However, nearly is hardly ever used in front of adverbs ending in `-ly'. You should use almost in front of these adverbs.

She said it almost crossly.

`What can I say now?' he asked, almost angrily.

Your boss is almost certainly there.

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used with 'like'
You can say that one thing is almost like another.

It made me feel almost like a hostess.

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You do not usually say that one thing is `nearly like' another.
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used with time expressions
You can use almost or nearly in front of time expressions. If it is almost or nearly a particular time, it will be that time soon.

It was almost 10 p.m.

It's almost supper-time.

By now it was nearly five past ten.

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Note that you only use almost or nearly like this after `be'. You do not say, for example, `They arrived at almost five o'clock'. Instead you say `It was almost five o'clock when they arrived'.

It was nearly nine o'clock when Simon made his appearance.

It was almost dark when Kunta, feeling very awkward, finally approached some of the boys.

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used with negatives
You can use almost in front of negative words such as `never', `no', `none', `no-one', `nothing', and `nowhere'.

A handbag was considered personal and almost never looked into.

There is almost no leadership at all.

I sold a picture by reducing the price to almost nothing.

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You cannot use nearly in front of negative words like these.
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However, you can use nearly after `not' to emphasize a negative statement. For example, instead of saying `The room is not big enough', you can say `The room is not nearly big enough'.

It's not nearly so nice.

We don't do nearly enough to help.

I haven't done nearly as much as I would like.

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You cannot use almost after `not' like this.
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adding modifiers
You can use `very' or `so' in front of nearly.

We were very nearly at the end of our journey.

Now they were very nearly men.

...the American who so nearly won the Open Championship in 1970.

...the family that had challenged the Corleone power, and had so nearly succeeded.

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In conversation, you can also use `pretty' in front of nearly.

I came across a paragraph about a girl I'd pretty nearly forgotten.

`Do you know that thirty miles is eight hours solid marching?' —-`Is it?' —-`Pretty nearly.'

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You cannot use `very', `so', or `pretty' in front of almost.
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Useful english dictionary. 2012.

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