Especially Strange!

After a year of teaching English online, I realized that many students use the word “especially” strangely, which explains the title of this post, “Especially Strange!”

I’ve actually heard this:

“I enrolled to the Kyoto University  especially the Environmental Economics.”  

correction:  I enrolled to at the Kyoto University especially to study the Environmental  Economics.

Explanation of corrections: The original sentence mentions the location (where) the student enrolled. Use “at” with a specific location, “in” with a program or course.  Another option, is to mention the program first. Then the sentence becomes, “I enrolled in the Environmental Economics program at Kyoto University.” (A beautiful sentence, don’t you agree?!)

Notice that the word “the” (called the definite article) was removed from the corrected version of the sentence, but “the” was included in this last example. Why? Because in the original sentence “Environmental Economics” refers to a field of study (general), but in the second example it describes a specific program.  This idea of specificity is important, so keep it in mind.*

Observe also that the word “especially” is not used in any of the corrected sentences.  To understand why, look at the definition below (compliments of Google Search):especially

Environmental Economics can’t be singled out of anything else mentioned in the sentence.  If the student had mentioned other courses they would be taking then “especially” could have been used. It is correct to say, “Kyoto University has several programs which promote ecological and economic well-being, especially Environmental Economics.”  In this case, the Environmental Economics program is being identified (singled out) as an example. Do you see how the word “particularly” can be substituted for “especially” here?  Also look to see if any of the synonyms in the Google definition work in the original sentence. (They don’t). So, “especially” doesn’t belong in the original sentence.

“Especially” is used for highlighting examples. Click To Tweet

Remember that I said to keep the idea of specificity in mind?  It occurred to me that the word “especially” is being confused with the word “specifically.”   When talking about a specific area of study, say “specifically.”  I enrolled at Kyoto University specifically for Environmental Economics.  (Beautiful!)

Let’s look at a couple more student sentences:

“Especially I prefer listening to the upbeat music.,”  and

My Grandson, a “Utility Player”

“Especially, I am really terrible at speaking.”

Both of these sentences start with the word “especially.”  For those of you who know adverbs (good for you!*), you know that adverbs are “utility players” (this is a sports term meaning players who can play several positions equally well).  Adverbs can come before or after the verbs they are modifying, or even alongside other adverbs.  The problem in these sentences is that there is nothing being singled out. Look at the sentences again (with corrections):

Especially at the end of the day, I prefer listening to the upbeat music.,  and

Especially in English, I am really terrible at speaking.

Clauses and phrases containing “especially” can also come at the end of the sentence.  So, it’s fine to say, “I prefer listening to upbeat music, especially at the end of the day.,” and “I am really terrible at speaking, especially in English.”

This next sentence is a little trickier:

“I work in a life insurance company and in charge of development of new business especially foreign affairs.  correction:  “I work in a life insurance company and am in charge of new business development especially in foreign markets.”

Foreign affairs” is NOT an example of a new business, so we can’t use “especially” to single it out as one.  We know this student is in the life insurance business.  So, “business development” means acquiring new policy holders (new business for the life insurance company).  I’ve corrected foreign affairs to “foreign markets,” which can be singled out as an area to develop new business.

Now let’s look at some examples of students who used “especially” right:

“I like music, especially western music.”

“I’m always struggling to communicate with them, especially on the phone.”

“I want to improve my English skills, especially discussion skills.”

“I’m interested in the property & casualty insurance industry, especially in corporate sales and underwriting.”

In summary then, “especially” can be used to single something out or to “call attention to that particular thing” (the word “particularly” can be substituted in these examples). Look at the second meaning in the definition above; “especially” can also mean “very.”

The Title of this post is: “Especially Strange!”  that essentially means “Very Strange!” or just “Weird!” It is a good example of how to use “especially” in the second sense however.

And so is this:

I hope you can honestly say, “I find Michele’s blog especially helpful!”

( ͡~ ͜ʖ ͡°)   (wink) Michele

Michele MVE 02 Icon 80 Percent JPEG My Take On It

After working with another student today, I realized I needed to include a little more information on the difference between especially and specially.

“Especially” is an enhancer like very Click To Tweet

Especially and specially are often confused (even by native speakers, especially children as they are learning to master English).  Especially will add emphasis and when combined with the word “not” it is very negative (*note: I could also say, “especially negative” which means the same thing).  So, if I tell you that I ate lunch at the ball park today, and you ask me, “Was it any good?” My answer, “Not especially,” means that it was bad. It would be the same as saying, “Not very.”  If, on the other hand I answer, “It was nothing special,” that means it was average.  There was nothing especially special about it.

Specially is the adverb related to the word “special.”  We use it to talk about special or particular purposes or a special manner.   We use it with phrases like, “God treated humankind specially by sending Jesus.,” and  “Although this blog isn’t especially easy to write, it was specially created with you in mind!”  Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss a future post! Thanks, Michele

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