Some days ago I've said that "people in the gym work out hardly", then someone told me that when I say "hardly" in this context, then the meaning is in fact opposite of what I want to say (that their workout takes a lot of power).

Then my question is what is the adverb that can replace the incorrect adverb "hardly" to some other correct word in this context?


2 Answers 2


The adjective "hard" is an exception to the rule that adverbs can be built from adjectives by adding "ly". So "hard" can be used both as an adjective and as an adverb.

So your sentence should be

People in the gym work out hard.

Hardly has various other meanings, e.g.

  • I hardly know her. (I don't know her well at all.)
  • You can hardly expect me to answer all the questions on ELL SE. (That would be unreasonable.)
  • There's hardly any cheese left. (There is almost no cheese left.)

Here's an example of contrasting meanings:

  • I'm tired because I've worked very hard.
  • I have hardly worked, so I still have a lot of energy ;-) (= I have worked very little ...)

Also notice the different placement of hard and hardly.

The words early, far, fast, late can also be both adjectives and adverbs. See the Internet Grammar of English.

  • Thank you for your answer. Then I can say also "very hard" in this context. Isn't it? Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 14:45
  • @Industrious Yes, you can say, "People in the gym work out very hard."
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 14:47

The word hard may be both an adjective and adverb, the latter meaning "with effort, force or vigor", whereas hardly is an adverb meaning "almost not".

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