Fine and finely
The adverb fine means ‘well’. It is used in some informal expressions.
- She is doing fine.
The adverb finely is used to talk about small careful adjustments.
- finely ground particles
- a finely tuned machine
Free and freely
The adverb free means ‘without payment’. The adverb freely means ‘without restriction’.
- Buy two shirts and get one free.
- Speak freely. (= Speak without fear or inhibition.)
Hard and hardly
The adverb hard has a similar meaning to the adjective hard.
- He works hard.
- Hit it hard.
Hardly has a negative meaning. It means ‘almost not’.
- We have got hardly any rice left.
High and highly
High is used to talk about height. Highly often means ‘very much’.
- He threw it as high as he could.
- It is highly amusing.
Late and lately
The adverb late has a similar meaning to the adjective late. Lately means ‘recently’.
- He arrived late.
- Have you read anything interesting lately?
Most and mostly
Most is the superlative form of much.
- This is the most interesting film I have ever seen.
Most can mean ‘very’ in a very formal style.
- It is a most interesting novel. (= It is a very interesting novel.)
Mostly means ‘mainly’.
- My friends are mostly vegetarians.
Real and really
In informal American English, real is often used instead of really.
- She sings real well. (= She sings really well.)