- hard|lyW2S2 [ˈha:dli US ˈha:rdli] adv1.) almost not▪ My parents divorced when I was six, and I hardly knew my father.▪ The children were so excited they could hardly speak.▪ I can hardly believe it.▪ Hardly anyone (=almost no one) writes to me these days.▪ Dad ate hardly anything (=almost nothing) .▪ There was hardly any (=very little) traffic.▪ She lives in Spain, so we hardly ever (=almost never) see her.hardly a day/week/month etc goes by without/when(=used to say that something happens almost every day, week etc)▪ Hardly a month goes by without another factory closing down.see usage note ↑rarely2.) used to mean 'not', when you are suggesting that the person you are speaking to will agree with you▪ It's hardly surprising that she won't answer his calls after the way he's treated her.▪ You can hardly blame Tom for not waiting.▪ My boss could hardly be described as handsome.hardly the time/place/person etc(=a very unsuitable time, place, person)▪ This is hardly the place to discuss the matter.3.) used to say that something has only just happened▪ The serious building work has hardly begun.hardly ... when/before▪ She had hardly sat down when the phone rang.▬▬▬▬▬▬▬GRAMMARDo not use hardly with a negative word : I can hardly believe he said that (NOT I can't hardly believe he said that). | There's hardly any milk left (NOT There's hardly no milk left).Use hardly just before the main verb : He could hardly speak (NOT He hardly could speak).Do not use hardly at the beginning of a sentence, except in very formal writing : I had hardly got in the house when the phone rang is the usual way to say this. It is possible to say |Hardly had I got in the house when the phone rang but this is very formal!! Do not use hardly as the adverb of hard . The adverb of hard is hard : I tried hard to remember (NOT I tried hardly to remember). | Students have to study very hard (NOT Students have to study very hardly).▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
Dictionary of contemporary English. 2013.