Word War: Especially vs Specially

When you save something just for someone, do you say that you it’s especially or specially for them? Either sounds correct. And that is understandable because both especially and specially are adverbs, which are often interchangeable. At the same time, there are situations where either is a better choice. How do we determine which is more appropriate then? First, let’s define each word.

Especially means “particularly” or “above all,” as in “She loves pastries, especially cupcakes” and “I am especially grateful to all my family and friends who supported me.” We use specially to talk about the specific purpose of something, as in “This kitchen was specially designed to make it easy for a disabled person to use” and “He has his shirts made specially for him by a tailor in London.”

These words have just a hair’s breadth of difference between them. Both can be used to mean “particularly,” where especially tends to be more formal, while specially tends to be more informal, as in the sentences below:

Markus can be tactless during discussions, especially when he feels like he is right and his points should be considered by the other party.

This month, Wonderlost PH has launched a line of zero-waste home essentials with specially created formula for vegans!

However, our words have finer points to them that are worthy of being understood. Especially carries a sense of something exceptional, implying that there is something else that is of lesser quality, for example “We came to win the game, and I thought we played especially well in the first half.” Specially can refer to something with a distinct purpose, someone or something which stands apart from the rest, without insinuating that there is something or someone who is lesser, as in “Specially trained dogs are used to help people with anxiety travel with peace of mind and emotional comfort.”

Now that you know the finer points, you can choose your words carefully to convey your points across clearer, especially to avoid confusion.


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