near ‧ ly S1 W1 /ˈnɪəli $ ˈnɪrli/ BrE AmE adverb
1 . especially British English almost, but not quite or not completely SYN almost :
It took nearly two hours to get here.
Michelle’s nearly twenty.
Is the job nearly finished?
Louise is nearly as tall as her mother.
I nearly always go home for lunch.
He very nearly died.
2 . not nearly not at all:
He’s not nearly as good-looking as his brother.
We’ve saved some money, but it’s not nearly enough.
• • •
Do not use nearly before negative words like 'no', 'nothing' etc. Instead, use almost , or say hardly any , hardly anything etc:
I know almost nothing (NOT nearly nothing) about him.
There was hardly any traffic (NOT nearly no traffic).
• • •
▪ almost not completely or not quite:
I’ve almost finished my essay.
It's almost lunchtime.
▪ nearly almost. Nearly is more commonly used in British English than American English:
I’ve been a teacher for nearly 10 years now.
It’s very nearly time to go home.
▪ not quite almost, but not yet:
‘Is he 60?’ ‘Not quite!’
It’s not quite time to go yet.
I’m not quite ready yet.
▪ practically/virtually very nearly:
The room was practically empty.
| practically all/everything/everyone etc :
The frost killed practically every plant in the garden.
Virtually everyone had gone home.
▪ more or less/just about/pretty much especially spoken very nearly – use this when saying that the difference is not important:
All the rooms are more or less the same size.
His jacket was pretty much the same colour as his trousers.
The policy will benefit just about everyone.
▪ getting on for British English informal , getting on toward especially American English informal almost a particular time, age, or period of time – used especially when you are not sure of the exact time, age etc:
It’s getting on for 10 years since we last saw each other.
‘How old’s Diane?’ ‘She must be getting on toward 50.’
▪ close to almost a particular number, amount, or time – used especially when the number or amount is surprisingly large or the time is very late:
It was close to midnight by the time we arrived.
They’ve spent close to $1.3 billion on the project.
▪ approaching/nearing almost – used when a number or amount is still increasing or a time is getting nearer:
The unemployment rate was nearing 20%.
▪ be on the verge of (doing) something to be very close to doing something:
She was on the verge of tears (=almost crying) .
I was on the verge of giving up.
They were on the verge of making a decision.
▪ be on the brink of something to be very close to an extremely bad situation:
The two countries are on the brink of war.
The company was on the brink of bankruptcy.