The words especially andspecially, have just a hair’s breadth of difference between them. Both can be used to mean “particularly.”


Especially describes something that can be singled out as better or more than. An especially tall building is extremely tall.

Behind many good adverbs is a good adjective; this is especially true for the word especially, which is built from the common adjective special. This means something close to particularly and can be used to describe something that is more than something else. Basketball players are especially tall. Puppies and kittens are especially cute. The President is an especially important person. If you win first place in a piccolo contest then you are especially good at playing piccolo.


Specially means “for a special purpose.” If you walk into a room that’s been specially decorated for St. Patrick’s Day, there is probably a lot of green involved, and a shamrock or two.

Use the adverb specially as a slightly less formal version of especially to mean something done in a particular way — like the fabric of a raincoat that’s been specially treated to repel water. Speciallyalso tells about something done for a special occasion, like when you make your sister a specially decorated cake for her birthday.

Especially tends to be more formal, while speciallytends to be more informal:

Barney Frank can be ruthless in debate, especially when laying into opponents who try to evade the historical record.

This season, Essie Cosmetics is commemorating 2010 Breast Cancer Awareness month with specially created We Can Do It Pink!

But our words have finer points to them that are worthy of being understood. Especiallycarries with it a sense of something exceptional, implying that there is something else that is of lesser quality:

We came to win the game and I thought we played especially well in the first half.

Charlotte Daw Paulsen, a mezzo-soprano, as Jephtha’s wife, was especially fine in her harrowing “Scenes of horror, scenes of woe.”

Specially can refer to something with a distinct purpose, someone who stands apart from the rest, without insinuating that there is something or someone who is lesser:

Specially trained dogs may be useful in helping to calm autistic children.

Value Village’s specially trained costume consultants will showcase the hottest costumes.

Now that you know the finer points, you can choose your words particularly/especially/specially carefully.

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