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General Writing and Grammar Help/Almost never - hardly ever

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Question
Dear Ted:

Is there a difference between "almost never" and "hardly ever"?

If so, when should I use each of them?

Would you please give me a few examples?

By the way, is it correct to call them "set phrases"?

Many, many thanks for your kind help.

Paolo

P.S. Ted, is the question "Is there A difference between X and Y?" or should I always write, "Is there ANY difference between X and Y?"

Answer
Dear Paolo:

  Dear Ted:

Is there a difference between "almost never" and "hardly ever"?

If so, when should I use each of them?

Would you please give me a few examples?

*** I see no difference between the two phrases at all.  

By the way, is it correct to call them "set phrases"?

*** I'm not sure what you mean by "set phrases."  They are considered to be "standard phrases," in that they very frequently are used  . . . and they always mean the same thing.

EXAMPLES:

Jane almost never orders dessert following her dinner.  She hardly ever eats desserts.

I almost never watch CNN on television.  That network hardly ever presents opposing viewpoints on topics of controversy.


Many, many thanks for your kind help.

Paolo

P.S. Ted, is the question "Is there A difference between X and Y?" or should I always write, "Is there ANY difference between X and Y?"

*** Use "A difference" if you suspect that there "might" be one significant point that one of the two has and the other does not.  "ANY difference" is more general.  In other words, you do NOT even SUSPECT that the "might" be a difference.  You are just asking the question IN CASE there might be a difference.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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