GRAMMAR GRAMMAR 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 rangbut 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).WORD CHOICE: WORD CHOICE: rarely, seldom, hardly, scarcelyRarely and seldom both mean 'not often'. Seldomis more formal or literary• People rarely ask questions.• She was seldom seen in public. • The disease is rarely fatal. Hardly and scarcelyboth 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 scarcelycan 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 everdo something, rather than that you rarely do it• I hardly ever go to the cinema. ➔ See alsorarely
Definition from the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Advanced Learner's Dictionary.