1

I was wondering if she really is hot

I was wondering if she is really hot?"

Are both of these correct? Is there a difference? When would one be used over the other?

2
  • 1
    They mean different things. In the first you're wondering whether she's hot or not; in the second, you're wondering whether she's exceptionally hot.
    – deadrat
    Nov 20, 2016 at 8:58
  • 1
    The differences are actually fairly subtle, having to do with emphasis and/or degree of skepticism.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 20, 2016 at 13:21

2 Answers 2

3

Both of these sentences are correct, but they have different meanings.


I was wondering if she really is hot.

In this sentence, "really" is an adverb (modifying is), and makes the sentence a question of whether "she" is attractive. You would only use this if someone had previously asserted that she is hot, as the sentence is questioning that assertion. Refer to this definition (from Oxford Dictionaries):

really
Adverb
1. In actual fact, as opposed to what is said or imagined to be true or possible:

"so what really happened?"
"they're not really my aunt and uncle"
[sentence adverb] "really, there are only three options"

If nobody had previously asserted that she is hot, you would remove "really":

I was wondering if she is hot.


I was wondering if she is really hot.

In this case, "really" is a submodifier – an adverb that modifies another adverb or an adjective, rather than the verb. Specifically, "really" is modifying "hot" here, and the sentence is about whether she is exceptionally, very, or unusually attractive, rather than just attractive. Refer to this definition (from the same Oxford Dictionaries page):

2. [as submodifier] Very; throughly:

"I think she's really great"
"a really cold day"

You would use this sentence if you didn't know how attractive she was, and wanted to know if she was very attractive. There is no questioning of an assertion of attractiveness (as there was with the previous sentence).

3

I was wondering if she really is hot.

You are skeptical that she is hot.

I was wondering if she is really hot?

You are wondering about how hot she is.

Also note that "hot" is rather ambiguous. The context should make the meaning clear. "Hot" can mean temperature as in being sick and running a fever, or it can mean very sexy.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .