hard‧ly S2 W2
1 almost not:
My parents divorced when I was six, and I hardly knew my father.
The children were so excited they could hardly speak.
I can hardly believe it.
Hardly anyone (=almost no one) writes to me these days.
Dad ate hardly anything (=almost nothing).
There was hardly any (=very little) traffic.
She lives in Spain, so we hardly ever (=almost never) see her.
hardly a day/week/month etc goes by without/when (=used to say that something happens almost every day, week etc)
Hardly a month goes by without another factory closing down.
see usage note rarely
2 used to mean 'not', when you are suggesting that the person you are speaking to will agree with you:
It's hardly surprising that she won't answer his calls after the way he's treated her.
You can hardly blame Tom for not waiting.
My boss could hardly be described as handsome.
hardly the time/place/person etc (=a very unsuitable time, place, person)
This is hardly the place to discuss the matter.
3 used to say that something has only just happened:
The building work has hardly begun.
hardly ... when/before
She had hardly sat down when the phone rang.

Do not use hardly with a negative word I can hardly believe he said that (NOT I can't hardly believe he said that). There's hardly any milk left (NOT There's hardly no milk left). Use hardly just before the main verb He could hardly speak (NOT He hardly could speak). Do not use hardly at the beginning of a sentence, except in very formal writing I had hardly got in the house when the phone rang is the usual way to say this. It is possible to say Hardly had I got in the house when the phone rang but this is very formal!! Do not use hardly as the adverb of hard. The adverb of hard is hard I tried hard to remember (NOT I tried hardly to remember). Students have to study very hard (NOT Students have to study very hardly).

rarely, seldom, hardly, scarcely
Rarely and seldom both mean 'not often'. Seldom is more formal or literary People rarely ask questions. She was seldom seen in public. The disease is rarely fatal. Hardly and scarcely both mean 'almost not' or 'only just'. For example, if you hardly had time to do something, you almost did not have time. Scarcely is more formal or literary I hardly had time to ask her name. We had scarcely arrived when he asked us to leave. Hardly and scarcely can also be used with 'ever' to mean 'not often, almost never', with 'any' to mean 'very few, almost none' etc I've got hardly any money left. Hardly anyone agreed with her. In speech, it is usual to say that you hardly ever do something, rather than that you rarely do it I hardly ever go to the cinema.See also rarely

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