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Last updated at 15:12 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009

Almost

A clock

It's almost time for lunch

Jamal form UAE asks:
The uses of almost.

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Gareth Rees answers

Click to listen to Gareth's answer

Dear Jamal

Thank you for asking about the uses of ‘almost’, which is an adverb that means ‘nearly’, not completely’ or ‘not quite’.

As it is an adverb, we use it to modify a verb, and we usually place it before the verb. For example, ‘I almost finished the exam, but in the end I ran out of time’. However, if the verb is ‘to be’, you put ‘almost’ after it. For example, ‘It is almost 9 o’clock’.

Secondly, we use ‘almost’ with adjectives, such as ‘I am almost ready to leave’. ‘He is almost certain to be late.’

We also use almost with words like every, all, nothing, and no-one. This is an area that often confuses students of English so pay attention to these examples.

Almost everyone uses the Internet these days.

I buy a newspaper almost every day.

Almost all of the students passed the exam.

I was disappointed because almost no-one came to my art exhibition.

There’s almost nothing in the fridge so I’d better go shopping.

In addition, we use almost with time expressions, like my earlier example ‘it is almost 9 o’ clock’, and with periods of times and quantities of things. For example, ‘I spent almost three months in New York’, ‘The house I want to buy costs almost two hundred thousand pounds’.

While on the subject of time, I should also mention that you can use ‘almost’ with the words ‘always’ and ‘never’, but not with ones like ‘sometimes’, ‘often’ and ‘occasionally’.

I almost always go to work by bus.

I almost never go to the theatre.

Well, I’ve almost finished telling you about the uses of ‘almost’, but there is one more interesting point to make. We use ‘almost’ with like to say that two things are very similar.

My pet dog is almost like a member of the family.

Writing to bbclearningenglish.com is almost like having a personal teacher.

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About Gareth Rees

Gareth Rees has a BA (hons) in History and Philosophy of Science, CTEFLA, and DELTA. He has taught EFL, EAP and Business English in China, Spain and England, and he is the co-author of the Language Leader Elementary and Pre-Intermediate English language course books (Pearson Longman). He currently teaches English in the Language Centre at the University of the Arts, London.

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