Self-Study: Actual and Actually
Do you have problems knowing when to use actual and actually in English?
You’re not alone! They mean something completely different than the German aktuell, so be careful!
Actual (similar to German tatsächlich) can be used to refer to something genuine or real. If you show the police a copy of your ID, they will most likely say that they need to see your actual ID. Look at these examples:
- I’m sorry, Mr. James, but we need to see the actual building permit. This handwritten note won’t do.
- Okay, I can see all of these numbers for the costs of the parts of the machine. Can you give me the actual sum, so that I know how much the whole machine costs?
Actually (similar to German eigentlich) is a filler word, and is used to express “as a fact.” It is often used to show opposition. Look at these examples:
- “Did you enjoy the film, Mathias?” “Actually, I was expecting a lot more.”
- The vendor kept trying to sell me newspapers and magazines, but all I actually wanted was a hot dog.
- “Were you impressed by Mr. Schröder’s speech?” “Yeah, I was, actually.”
How can you express the German idea of aktuell in English? Some good choices are: current, currently, at the moment, up-to-date, updated, newest and latest.Here are a few examples for you:
- Jefferson, can you please get me the latest edition of Business Spotlight? This one is from last year.
- How is your project going at the moment, Annika? Are you making progress?
- Is this all up-to-date, Janice? Do you have the latest prices included?