Actual and actually
These words are often confused.
Actual means ‘real’; actually means ‘really’ or ‘in fact’. These words are often used to correct mistakes or misunderstandings.
The book says that she was 38 when she won the Nobel Prize, but her actual age was 42.
‘Hello, James. Glad to meet you.’ ‘Actually, my name is Peter.’
These words can also be used to make things clearer or more precise.
I have got a promotion. Actually, they have made me the manager.
She was so angry that she actually broke everything she saw before her eyes.
In British English, actually is often used to break bad news.
‘I hope your mother is doing well.’ ‘Well, actually, she is terribly ill.’
Actually can also be used to suggest that the hearer’s expectations were correct.
‘Did you enjoy the movie?’ ‘Very much, actually.’
Actual and actually cannot be used to suggest ideas such as present, current, up to date, at this moment, now or at present.
What is the current situation? (NOT What is the actual situation?)
Last year she was earning more than what she earns now. (NOT Last year she was earning more than what she earns actually.)
We cannot do anything at this moment. (NOT We cannot do anything actually.)