Specially or Especially? No or not?
Even advanced English learners sometimes put ‘not’ or ‘no’ in the wrong place. And just what is the difference between ‘Specially’ and ‘Especially’? Here are explanations of two common mistakes that advanced learners make in English.
Specially or Especially?
Both of these words are adverbs (adjectives that describe verbs). Their adjective forms can help to show the difference between them.
Special is a common word that means particular, unique, uncommon or outstanding.
“ This chef has a special method for making cakes”
Especial is an old word that means “of exceptional importance”. It is very rarely used today.
“ He has an especial fear of spiders” (A more common way of saying this sentence today would be “He has an exceptional fear of spiders”)
Despite special being much more common than especial, in their adverb forms especially is much more common than specially.
Specially is only used to show something has been done in a special way, and so is not very common.
“ I don’t want to be treated specially”
Especially is much more common, and means particularly or more than normal.
“ It is especially important to exercise a lot if you eat a lot of fatty food”
“ I love vegetables. Especially broccoli.”
If you are not sure what to choose – choose “especially” – it is far more common than “specially”.
No or Not
- Knowing when to say ‘no’ or ‘not’ can really show an advanced English user.
If you are answering a question, always use “no”. You cannot use “not” alone.
“Do you have any questions?”
- Also use no when you are describing a lack of something.
This will be no + noun or no +adjective + noun
“There are no animal products in this cake”
(Synonymous sentence: There aren’t any animal products in this cake)
“Because of the strike there will be no public transport on Tuesday)
(Synonymous sentence: There won’t be any public transport on Tuesday)
“I have no idea what you are talking about”
“There are some hats here, Sir, but there are no tall, round, silly, yellow hats.”
- Use no for instructions with gerunds (-ing), and not for instructions with infinitives:
Do not smoke!
- Use not in all other situations, including…
(1) …before verbs…
“He is not renting the office any more”.
(2) … before adverbs…
“This book is not very difficult to read”
(3) … before nouns WITH articles…
“I like most of the clothes in this shop, but not the trousers”.
In general, no goes with nouns, and not goes with verbs.
Fill the gaps with either Special, Specially, Especially, No or Not. Answers below.
- France and Belgium have very ________ relationship.
- John did well in all of his exam – ___________ geography.
- The gardener looked after a lot of plants, but he cared for the roses __________ .
- This blog is written _________ to help people understand complicated grammar!
- There are ____ bananas at the supermarket.
- I have ____ idea what you’re talking about.
- Adam is _____ good at cooking.
- Sorry sir. We have ___ more sandwiches.
- France and Belgium have very special relationship.
- John did well in all of his exam – especially geography.
- The gardener looked after a lot of plants, but he cared for the roses specially.
- This blog is written especially to help people understand complicated grammar!
(Specially is also possible here, but less common)
- There are no bananas at the supermarket.
- I have no idea what you’re talking about.
- Adam is not very hygienic.
- Sorry sir. We have no more sandwiches.
How many did you get right? Do you have any questions about these difficult differences? Write us a comment below and we will respond as fast as possible!