• he spoke very quickly, so I could hardly understand him. - (I understood (0-25%) of all)

  • he spoke very quickly, so I hardly understood him. - (it was hard, but I did(understood) it (75%-100%) of all)

Is it right in this context?

and one another question: is it correct to replace understood with did in the top section?

  • 5
    I see no justification for assigning percentage probabilities here. Both phrasings imply the speaker did understand, albeit with difficulty. It's a matter of opinion whether anybody thinks either version implies more difficulty and / or less understanding than the other. And you can't just replace understood with did - they're completely different verbs. Dec 6, 2023 at 21:53
  • @FumbleFingers I used percent because my existing knowledge of English is not so good. I haven't had an alternative yet.
    – Armen
    Dec 6, 2023 at 22:01
  • @FumbleFingers so what about this definition for do. 'used to avoid repeating a verb or verb phrase:' from 'dictionary.cambridge.org'.
    – Armen
    Dec 6, 2023 at 22:04
  • 2
    It's a pointless question. A native speaker probably wouldn't get themselves tied up knots with hardly (minimally) and hard (laborious). It's too reminiscent of "How's the job? Working hard, or hardly working?" Dec 6, 2023 at 22:38
  • @FumbleFingers maybe the question I have created is wrong. I try to understand the difference between 'could [v]' and [v2]. Are they interchangeable?
    – Armen
    Dec 6, 2023 at 22:49

1 Answer 1


He spoke very quickly, so I could hardly understand him.
He spoke very quicly so I was almost not able to understand him.

VERSUS He spoke very quickly, so I hardly understood him.

The sentence above is the usual way to use hardly.

hardly means barely. If you barely or hardly understand someone, you have difficulty in understanding them. But you are able to understand them.

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