Magazine May 4, 2020, Issue

Letters

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Hardly Literal

I enjoyed Bryan Garner’s article “Sex and the Singular Pronoun” (February 10). It reminded me of the word hardly. I’ve always had trouble accepting that the word is used to mean “a very small amount,” or “to a very small degree,” or “not at all.” I’ve wondered if it has been used that way for so long that it is accepted. It seems that it actually would mean the opposite — “a large amount or degree,” as if to mean “in a hard way.” I would guess that the proper thing to say would actually be “not hardly” instead.

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