4 Ways To Use ACTUALLY

Lesson Overview

Lesson Summary 

Let’s focus on a useful & frequently used English word: ACTUALLY.

Actually is such a handy English word to know! We use it to:

  • emphasise a fact
  • show surprise
  • correct someone politely
  • to introduce a new topic/add information

So, let’s actually learn how to use it correctly! I’ll teach you the correct pronunciation and 4 different ways to use ‘actually’ in English sentences!

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Video Transcript
Section 1
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Well hey there I’m Emma from mmmEnglish! I hope you’ve been having an awesome day so far! Today’s English lesson is going to be short and sweet. I’ll go over four different ways that you can use a very common, very useful word. Actually.

We’ll also practise the pronunciation to help you sound more natural and relaxed when you use this word.

‘Actually’ is one of those English words that has several different meanings and it can be used in a few different ways but it can also be placed in different positions within an English sentence as well so that can make it seem a little confusing and with many of my students, if you know, they’re a little confused about a word or a little unsure about how to use it correctly, they tend to avoid it but we don’t want to do that. There is no need this avoid this word. It’s an incredibly useful word. Check it out.

We can use ‘actually’ to emphasise a fact, to express surprise, to correct someone politely or to change topics in a conversation. It is a very, very handy word to know.

Now let’s start with the pronunciation ‘actually’. Technically there are four syllables in this word. But when spoken by a native English speaker and they say it naturally, the word reduces down to three syllables. So the stress is on the first syllable, it’s the strongest sound. And in the second syllable, the vowel sound reduces down to the schwa, you can hear it with the consonant sound. And then the last syllable is a short sound. The schwa sound is the secret here to natural pronunciation. It’s not ac-choo-ly, but actually. It’s a really relaxed sound.

Actually, check out my lesson about the schwa sound right here for some extra practice. You’ll get lots more pronunciation practice if you practise with me out loud during this lesson. There’s going to be lots of examples so get ready to speak out loud.

actually #1 – to emphasise a fact

So there are four different ways that you can use the word ‘actually’ in English sentences and number one is to emphasise a fact or something that happened.

It actually takes longer to fly from Melbourne to Perth than it takes to fly from Perth to Melbourne.

So I’m using ‘actually’ here to emphasise a fact. It’s true. The wind direction has quite a significant influence on the flight time so it’s much faster to fly from Perth to Melbourne.

I’ve heard so many different versions of this story, I wish I knew what he actually said.
You know I want the truth, I want to know what he really said at the time. I’ve only heard from others.

Do you know Paul?

We’ve spoken over the phone but we’ve never actually met.

Have you got an example that you can share in the comments below?

I want you to write a sentence, if you can, where you’re using ‘actually’ to emphasise a fact.

actually #2 – to show surprise

Number two, you can use ‘actually’ to show surprise at something unexpected.

It looks like my brother actually arrived on time. I’m a little surprised, he’s usually late.
I was so tired I actually fell asleep in the back of the taxi.
Did you hear that they actually sold their house? It’s been on the market for ages.

actually #3 – to correct someone politely

Now ‘actually’ can also be used to correct someone politely.

I don’t work for the government. I’m self-employed, actually.
We’re late. The meeting starts at twelve. Actually, think it starts after lunch.
How long has she been living in Sydney? Actually, she lives in Singapore now.

Now you can actually use ‘actually’ to correct yourself which is cool when you make a mistake or you’re unsure.

I’m meeting with them on Thursday. Actually, it might be Friday.

Can you think of your own example to correct someone politely? If you can, add it to the comments below so I can check it out soon.

actually #4 – to introduce a new topic or add information

And finally, we can use ‘actually’ to introduce a new topic or to add some extra information.

Actually, I need to ask you about something before you leave.
I’ve been meaning to talk about that with you, actually.

So notice how in both of these examples, when we use ‘actually’ at the end or at the start of a sentence, we use a comma and this is really important for your writing but also when you’re speaking. It also signals a little pause.

So that was the four ways that you can use ‘actually’ but I’ve got a couple of extra tips that I want to share with you to actually make sure that you’re using ‘actually’ correctly because some of my students get a little confused between ‘actually’ and ‘currently’.

Now in English, these are not synonyms. ‘They actually moved to Tokyo.’ is not the same as ‘They currently moved to Tokyo.’
In fact, that sentence is completely incorrect.

‘Actually’ and ‘currently‘ are different. And the last thing that I want to share is ‘actually’ and ‘actual’, they have very similar meanings. ‘Actually’ is an adverb, ‘actual’ is an adjective. Their meanings are similar. ‘Actual’ means real or factual and it can also be used for emphasis but they are used in different positions within a sentence.

So usually the adjective ‘actual’ is found before the noun.

This is the actual spot where we met.
This is the actual spot where I teach you.

Now the adverb ‘actually’ is usually used at the beginning or the end of a sentence or before the verb.

Actually, this is where I film my videos.
I actually film them right here.
This is where I film my videos actually.

So I hope you actually learned something this lesson and that you actually start using this word a little more frequently in your English sentences.

Make it a challenge for this week. How many times can you use the word ‘actually’? Keep it top of mind.

Give this lesson a like and if you’re thinking ‘Actually, I’ve got a friend who should really watch this video.’ well, make sure you share it with them.

Here are a couple more lessons to keep you busy. I think that you’ll actually like this one right here. I’ll see you in there!

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