hardly

adverb hard·ly \ ˈhärd-lē \

Definition of hardly

1 : with force : vigorously
2 : in a severe manner : harshly
3 : with difficulty : painfully
4 a used to emphasize a minimal amount
  • I hardly knew her
  • almost new — hardly a scratch on it
b used to soften a negative
  • you can't hardly tell who anyone is
  • —G. B. Shaw
5 : certainly not
  • that news is hardly surprising

Can hardly be used with a negative?

Hardly in sense 5 is used sometimes with not for emphasis.
    • just another day at the office? Not hardly
In sense 4b with a negative verb (such as can't, wouldn't, didn't) it does not make a double negative but softens the negative. In "you can't hardly find a red one," the sense is that you can find a red one, but only with difficulty; in "you can't find a red one," the sense is that red ones are simply not available. Use of hardly with a negative verb is a speech form; it is most commonly heard in Southern and Midland speech areas. In other speech areas and in all discursive prose, hardly is normally used with a positive.
    • you can hardly find a red one


Examples of hardly in a Sentence

  1. It hardly matters what I think.

  2. The changes in service have hardly been noticed.

  3. There are hardly any new features in this software.

  4. Hardly anyone showed up for the meeting.

  5. Hardly a day goes by when I don't think about you.

  6. This is hardly a new idea for a movie.

  7. “Is this a new idea for a movie?” “Hardly! I've seen dozens of movies just like it.”

Recent Examples of hardly from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hardly.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of hardly

before 12th century



HARDLY Defined for Kids

hardly

adverb hard·ly \ ˈhärd-lē \

Definition of hardly for Students

: only just : barely I can hardly hear you.


Seen and Heard

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