- 1almost no; almost not; almost none There's hardly any coffee left. Hardly anyone has bothered to reply. She hardly ever calls me (= almost never). We hardly know each other. Hardly a day goes by when I don't think about her (= I think of her almost every day). At the time, I hardly spoke any French. There was hardly a cloud in the sky.
- 2used especially after “can” or “could” and before the main verb, to emphasize that it is difficult to do something I can hardly keep my eyes open (= I'm almost falling asleep). Icould hardly believe it when I read the letter.
- 3used to say that something has just begun, happened, etc. We can't stop for coffee now, we've hardly started. We had hardly sat down to supper when the phone rang. (formal) Hardly had she spoken than she regretted it bitterly.
- 4used to suggest that something is unlikely or unreasonable or that someone is silly for saying or doing something He is hardly likely to admit he was wrong. It's hardly surprising she was fired; she never did any work. It's hardly the time to discuss it now. You can hardly expect her to do it for free. “Couldn't you have just said no?” “Well, hardly (= of course not), she's my wife's sister.” He's 24—hardly a baby. Which Word?hard / hardly The adverb from the adjective hard is hard:I have to work hard today. She has thought very hard about her future plans. It was raining hard outside. Hardly is an adverb meaning “almost not”:I hardly ever go to concerts. I can hardly wait for my birthday.It cannot be used instead of hard:I’ve been working hardly today. She has thought very hardly about her future plans. It was raining hardly outside.
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