What does 'actually' mean?

Editor's note: This image shows the 'Maletsunyane Falls in Lesotho (192m)

· Vocabulary

The word may not mean what you think it means

We use the word actually to indicate that something, or a situation, exists, that it is veritable. It is very easy to confound it with the French word 'actuellement', which means: dans les circonstances présentes, à ce moment précis.

If someone says, "She actually didn't know that she had been won the lottery," the meaning is: "She veritably/really/in reality didn't know that she had won the lottery". Consider this question: "Did you actually see the accident?" The person asking the question wants to know if you really saw the accident, or if someone described the accident to you.
What do you think this statement means: "I like my actual job?"

It means that the speaker likes their real job, the job that the company pays them to do. It doesn't mean that speaker likes their current job, their present job. The word "current" means "of the present time" or "happening now."

Actual = réel, vrai, véridique
Actually = vraiment, en fait, en réalité

Actuel = current, present, of this moment

Actuellement = currently, at present, at this moment


  1. The actual price is not indicated
    Le prix réel n'est pas indiqué
  2. Actually we're looking for a hotel
    En fait, nous sommes à la recherche d'un hôtel
  3. C'est qui le PDG actuel?
    Who's the current CEO?
  4. Elle est au Lesotho actuellement.
    She's in Lesotho right now.

Therefore, instead of "I like my actual job", the speaker probably wanted to say, "I like my current job".

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