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In actuality, actually

I hate the expression “In actuality, ... ” Is it correct or should one use “Actually,...”

  • February 15, 2007
  • Posted by stal359
  • Filed in Usage

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@durendal - you might want to check your grammar before throwing brickbats at other people.

underink seems to have said it all, and I think this example sentence from Oxford Dictionaries Online shows how:

"The building looked as impressive in actuality as it did in photographs."

You could substitute 'in real life', but using actually would slightly change the emphasis, I'd say.

Warsaw Will April 2, 2014, 2:21pm

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It seems "in actuality" may be used more by people whom want to displace more hot air than necessary...

durendal April 2, 2014, 8:28am

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argh sorry

English "in + noun" adverbs, not adjectives.

AO May 16, 2007, 6:04pm

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addendum: Japanese has exactly the same kind of duality in its adverbs. Some adjectives can be made into adverbs by paradigmatic shifts in the suffix (-i adjectives dropping the -i and adding -ku, like English "-ly" adverbs) whereas other adjectives can be adverbialized through syntagmatic shifts ("noun + na" used as an adjective drops the "na" and adds "ni," a preposition meaning "in" or "by," just like the English "in + noun" adjectives).

AO May 16, 2007, 6:02pm

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I'd like to add, also, a little note on the nature of adverbs. "Actually" is a type of adverb very common in Germanic languages: [adjective] + ly. In German, the ly is lich, in Dutch it's lijk, in Old English, its lic. Basically, the ending means "like." Therefore, "actually" can be parsed "actual-like." Now, many languages lack this kind of form, so for example, in Hebrew or Arabic, many adverbial constructions can be formed by taking an adjective (actual), turning it into a noun (actuality) and then modifying it with a preposition (in actuality). As you can see, English has all the tools to do this as well (I believe the construction was introduced into English from the Romanic-speaking Normans, as it is a common way to form adverbial constructions in many Romance languages). Both (adj + ly and adj-->n + prep) are perfectly grammatical in English and, Porsche's useful observations aside, mean exactly the same thing.

AO April 8, 2007, 10:18pm

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I might suggest that rather than eschew "in actuality", you should embrace it and avoid saying "actually". Through misuse, words like totally, basically, actually, etc. have become interjectives, nearly devoid of meaning. By comparison, "in reality", "in actuality", "as a basis", etc., have very clear and specific meanings and are less likely to be abused, misused, or misconstrued.

An interesting take on this is at:

although, it does seem to be a list of pet peeves masquerading as a reference, and some of the statements on the site are debatable.

porsche March 21, 2007, 1:19pm

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It's correct because 'actuality' is a noun. For instance, you can't say 'in actually', because actually is an entirely different part of speech. Thus, while the meaning of 'in actuality' and 'actually' might, in interpretation, have the same value or meaning to you, they aren't at all the same grammatically. I'll use an example you're probably more familiar with.

'In actuality' is the equivalent of saying 'in reality'. In fact, that's what 'actuality' means: 'in reality, in existence'. That phrase doesn't bother you, does it? They're both stressing the fact that 'this is how it really is'. Actuality becomes 'actually' the same way 'reality' becomes 'really'. It's really due to preference. 'In realty' and 'in actuality' are a more emphasized form of 'really' and 'actually'.

It's kind of like the concept of wordiness: using more words to emphasize a certain point---more than necessary---where some people might prefer to use a more brief and direct form.

'In actuality' is correct. You shouldn't let it annoy you, just change the wording in your head to 'in reality' or 'actually' if it bothers you.

underink March 21, 2007, 8:41am

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I agree with AO - It's correct.

So it's now just your preference whether to use it or not.

Isabella February 18, 2007, 1:24am

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It's correct but you don't have to use it if you don't like it.

AO February 15, 2007, 9:54pm

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Yes     No