What’s the difference between generally and mainly?

This week we are looking at two words which may be confused by learners of English: generally and mainly.

generally

Generally means `usually’, `in most cases’, or `on the whole’.

Paperback books are generally cheapest.

His answer was generally correct.

mainly

Use mainly, rather than ‘generally’, to say that something is true about most of something, or about most of the people or things in a group.

The room is mainly blue.

The people in the audience were mainly from Senegal or Mali.


Find out more in our English Usage article.

This blogpost is based on Collins COBUILD English Usage, written for learners of English. For more examples of English usage points, please visit:  https://grammar.collinsdictionary.com/english-usage.

All opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Collins, or its parent company, HarperCollins.

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