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Session 37

Welcome to English In A Minute. Give us a minute and we'll give you a hot tip about English. Grammar, vocabulary... there's so much to learn! And all taught by your favourite BBC Learning English staff!

Activity 1

Actually vs at the moment

Do you have a minute to spare to learn some English? James will help you judge when to use actually and when to use at the moment. Give us 60 seconds and we'll give you the English!

Watch the video and complete the activity

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Hi everybody. I'm James and welcome back to this week's English In A Minute. This week we're going to look at the differences between actually and at the moment. These two phrases are often confused, so let's take a look at an example:

At the moment, I'm making this programme, but actually, I should be in a meeting.

So this sentence shows both phrases but they're actually quite different. Let's break it down.

At the moment, I'm making this programme. As you can see, I'm making this programme right now, so at the moment means 'now', or 'in the present'.

But actually I should be in a meeting. Now in this part of my sentence, actually isn't talking about time at all. Actually means 'in fact' or 'in reality'.

So, if you want to talk about now, say at the moment. But if you want to say in reality say actually.

At the moment I want to go and make a coffee, but actually I think I'll go back to my desk. Bye!


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Actually vs at the moment

Actually means 'in reality' or 'in fact'. It is often used to present information which contrasts with what is believed to be true.

  • I thought I had got the answer correct, but actually it was wrong.
  • Many people think it always rains in the UK. Actually, it only rains most of the time.
  • The police are unclear as to what actually happened. 

At the moment
At the moment means 'now' or 'in the present'.

  • I'm studying at the moment because I have an exam tomorrow.
  • I'm sorry. He's not here at the moment. Would you like to leave a message?
  • At the moment, They're renovating their new home so they don't have any spare time.


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