I was wondering whether 'for real' can be replaced with 'really' in the below, and that if it is the case, what the difference between them. I can't tell apart from each other, referring to dictionaries. The sentence comes at 0:39 in the NBC NEWS clip, https://ia904709.us.archive.org/33/items/KNTV_20230108_013000_NBC_Nightly_News_With_Lester_Holt/KNTV_20230108_013000_NBC_Nightly_News_With_Lester_Holt.mp4?start=1260&end=1320&ignore=x.mp4

The hope is that if these cars can function safely going fast, then maybe they'd be ready to hit the road for real.

  • An incredulous Really? is just "colloquial, conversational" English, but For real? is decidedly slangy (and that's even more true about "super-slangy" For reals?). In your cited context, the usage is par for the course in newspapers and TV, but it's less likely in a truly formal context. And you couldn't replace for real by really there. Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 12:57
  • Surely hit the road for real means be used as an actual means of transport (in the context of self-driving cars)? Really wouldn't be idiomatic in this context. Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 17:41

1 Answer 1


Really is used by itself if it used as a question, Really? or used to describe how true something is, or to replace the word 'very'. Really is to emphasize adjectives and verbs, express doubt in a sentence, or can be used by itself to express doubt.

By itself:

She eats cats. "Really?"


This dog runs really fast. Your face is really round.


Are you really gonna eat that? Is this really bad? Are you sure they really did that?

The way 'for real' is used in the sentence is correct because 'for' relates how something is done or the purpose of it being done.

are you for real?

Are you doing something in a way that is credible?

This shop is for real.

The shop exists in a way that is credible.

'For real' is used at the end of a sentence and has one meaning, whereas really can be used for multiple things and be placed in numerous places in a sentence.

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