I was reading this sentence,

During high school I was very talented student especially in math.

Automatically, I mentally corrected it as,

During high school, I was a talented student, particularly in mathematics.

Then I paused, thinking why I replaced that especially with particularly. Was it because the original writing mentioned "M.Sc. program" and "PhD"? It seemed like I was trying to make the text sound a little more formal. But do I really have any ground here? I looked up some online dictionaries and found that not only they are synonyms, their definitions are also almost identical.

For example, according to Google, particularly is defined as "to a higher degree than is usual or average," while especially is defined as "to a great extent; very much."

Or, in another definition, particularly is defined as "used to single out a subject to which a statement is especially applicable," while especially as "used to single out one person, thing, or situation over all others."

Does particularly really convey more formality than especially as I thought?

  • 1
    By the way, a common mistake among learners is using the word *especial when they should be using the far more common special. (It's not terribly relevant here, but I thought I'd mention it anyway :-)
    – user230
    Jan 24 '14 at 23:39

I believe that in this context, the two words are completely interchangeable with no change in meaning or register.

I can't actually think of a context where one would be preferred over the other, but I'm willing to be proven wrong on that.


For a different situation I believe that the two words have a nuance to them.

Consider the following two statements:

  1. I like sushi, particularly salmon

  2. I like sushi, especially salmon

Although the person prefers salmon over other types in both examples, in the second statement the person expresses this stronger than in the first.

  • 2
    You are right! They express different dimensions while targeting the preference. Particularly is emphasising the salmon's specific qualities as the main difference of interest - the like is more accurate. Especially is emphasising the subject's higher level of feeling for the choice - the like is more emotional. Great examples.
    – scipilot
    Oct 18 '16 at 0:04

I would simply say that it sounds, to me, more sophisticated to say particularly. Though the two words, particularly and especially seem to be synonymous.


"Especially" means above all others. It is an adverb that is used to signify a person, thing or situation that is "more special" than all others.

"Particularly" can mean the same, but it can also be used in place of specifically. That I think is the nuance some of the above posters elude to.


I believe 'particularly' is used to denote ONE person, thing, or situation...and 'especially'...to denote ONE or MORE THAN ONE. I have no reference for this. I haven't heard 'particular' for denoting more than one.

  • 1
    Please consider adding some context and references.
    – AIQ
    Oct 19 '19 at 9:29

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