According to the Macmilan Dictionary, really can be used as an adverb (with a verb, adjective, or other word), a sentence modifier, or an interjection.

Watching: What is Really



(goes with verb) Do you really love her?

(before adjective or adverb) She’s a really nice person. / I played sentence adverbwell on Saturday.

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Sentence modifiers: (forms a clause or a sentence) Really, it isn’t important. Interjections: ‘I don’t care what you think.’ ‘Well, really!’

So what does really mean?

What is the meaning of the word really?

Really Meaning and Usage in English

What really means is understood in a number of ways:

1. Emphasize adverbs or adjectives (= very, very much)


I’m really hungry. (I was very hungry) some really useful information (some very useful information) It all went really well. (Everything went very well) This is a really nice place. (This is a very beautiful place) She really enjoys working with young children. (She loves working with young children) We’ve all been working really hard. (We worked very hard)

2. Emphasize something you say or an opinion you make


I really want to go home now. (I really want to go home now). I want to help—I really do. (I want to help, really) You really need to forget all about her. (You really need to forget about her) There’s really no need to worry. (Really nothing to worry about) I really ought to have phoned Annie to let her know we’d be late. (I really should have called Annie to let her know we’re going to be late.)

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3. Show interest, surprise at something someone says


‘We’re going to Japan next month.’ ‘Oh, really?’ (“We’re going to Japan next week.” “Oh, really?”) ‘She’s resign.’ ‘Really? Are you sure?’ (“She resigned.” “Really? Are you sure?”)

4. Used to say fact, the truth about something


What do you really think about it? (What do you really think about it?) Tell me what really happened. (Tell me the truth) Hamlet isn’t really mad – he’s just pretending to be. (Hamlet isn’t actually crazy – he’s just pretending to be) I can’t believe I am really going to meet the princess. (I can’t believe I’m actually going to meet the princess)

5. Used to soften speech (usually in negative sentences)


I don’t really agree with that. (I don’t quite agree with that) It doesn’t really matter. (It doesn’t matter much) ‘Did you enjoy the book?’ ‘Not really’ (= ‘no’ or ‘not very much’). (“Did you like the book?” “Not very much”)


The placement of the word really can change the meaning of the sentence.

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What really means needs to be determined depending on the position and usage in the sentence

For example I don’t really know means you are not sure about something; and I really don’t know emphasizes that you don’t know anything (see second usage).

6. Used in questions and negative sentences when you want someone to say “no”


Do you really expect me to believe that? (You really hope I believe that?) I don’t really need to go, do I? (I don’t really have to, do I?) He doesn’t really have a clue about what’s going on, does he? (He doesn’t really know what’s going on, does he?) Is that how you”re really going to do it? (Are you really going to do that?)

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7. Express your objection to what someone did or said


Really, you could have told us before. (You could have told us earlier) Really, Amanda! What a dreadful thing to say! (Amanda! It’s annoying when you say that.