'Especially' vs 'Specially': What's the Difference?

By Katie Moore, updated on August 5, 2023

‘Especially’ vs ‘Specially’: What’s the difference? Sometimes, just one letter can change the meaning of a word, but this can make things all the more confusing. Knowing when to use a proper version of the word can help your writing look more sophisticated and help you avoid simple mistakes. Let’s take a look at just how much one letter can change a word’s definition. 

In a rush? Here’s a quick preview of what’s to come: 

  • ‘Especially’ is a word that means to a great extent. 
  • ‘Specially’ is a word that means in a distinct or particular way. 

What’s the Difference Between ‘Especially’ vs ‘Specially’?

Aside from the obvious one-letter distinction, what is the difference between ‘Especially’ vs ‘Specially’? Both are adverbs that define something that is singled out, but they are singled out in specific ways. 

Note: An adverb is a word or phrase that modifies an adjective or verb expressing a relation of place, time, or manner

  • ‘Especially’ has to do with something more significant or special. Think more one of a kind or something made or done to be particularly grand.
  • Meanwhile, ‘Specially’ has to do with being done for a specific purpose, thus making it more particular. 

This may seem confusing because the words appear almost interchangeable, but they have their own meanings and their own proper uses. But simply comparing these words to each other doesn’t help complete the picture. We need to dive deeper.

Let’s take a closer look at ‘Especially’ vs ‘Specially.’ 

Definition of ‘Especially’: What Does it Mean?

According to Oxford Languages, ‘Especially’ is an adverb that means: 

  • Used to single out one person, thing, or situation over all others
    • “He despised them all, especially John.”
  • To a great extent, very much
    • “He didn’t especially like dancing.”

Synonyms for ‘Especially

  • Exceptionally
  • Chiefly
  • Particularly
  • Exclusively
  • Notably
  • Principally
  • Extraordinary
  • Markedly
  • Above all
  • Abnormally

Antonyms of ‘Especially’

  • Broadly
  • Commonly
  • Normally
  • Generally
  • Ordinarily
  • Usually
  • Unexceptionally

Phrases with ‘Especially’

  • Especially fond of
  • Especially important
  • Especially excited 
  • Especially worried

Definition of ‘Specially’: What Does it Mean?

According to the Dictionary, ‘Specially’ is an adverb which means: 

  • In a distinct or particular way; uniquely
    • “All of our products are specially handcrafted.”
  • With definite intent, with a specific occasion, person, etc., in mind
    • “The travelog was specially requested by a member of the group.”
  • Above all

The root of the word ‘Specially’ comes from the Latin origin ‘speciālis’ which means “pertaining to a particular kind.” This helps show that the origin links directly to the word but also gives us a glimpse of how ‘Especially’ can seem similar. 

Synonyms of ‘Specially’

  • Expressly
  • Uniquely
  • Specifically
  • Particularly
  • Distinctively
  • In specie
  • Notably
  • Concretely

Antonyms of ‘Specially’

  • Generally
  • Broadly
  • Mostly
  • Mainly
  • Substantially
  • Largely
  • Predominantly

Phrases with ‘Specially’

  • Specially made
  • Specially written

Pronunciations: How to Pronounce ‘Especially’ vs ‘Specially’

Given that writing isn’t the only time we use words, it is very important that we give you the tools to navigate all linguistic scenarios. This obviously includes speech, and words like ‘Especially’ vs ‘Specially’ that only have a one-letter difference mean pronunciation is key. More accurately, enunciation is key because emphasizing the “e” at the beginning of ‘Especially’ can be the difference between understanding which word is being used. Since the distinction between the meaning of these two words is relatively narrow, knowing which word is being said is crucial.

So let’s look at how to say these words properly. 

Use this phonetic spelling of ‘Especially’ as a guide: 

  • Eh-speh-shuh-lee’ (the ‘-cia-’ sound turns into a “sh” sound, and be sure to emphasize the “e”) 

Use this phonetic spelling of ‘Specially’ as a guide:

  • Speh-shuh-lee’ (the first “e” is pronounced as in ‘egg’) 

How to Use ‘Especially’ vs ‘Specially’ in a Sentence

When words sound similar and have related functions within a sentence, knowing which one to use can be tricky when you’re trying to think on the fly. In moments like that, it can be helpful to draw on other real-world examples that clue you in as to where and how words may appear. Here are some sample sentences that provide context for ‘Especially’ vs ‘Specially’ — read them over, then once you feel more confident, try writing some sample sentences of your own as practice. 

‘Especially’ Example Sentences

  • She was especially proud of her science fair project and couldn’t wait to show it off to her class.
  • After staying up all night studying for an exam, he was especially tired the next morning. 
  • The kids were not especially excited about an all-day fishing trip, but they agreed because they knew their grandpa loved it. 
  • He couldn’t wait for the big party this weekend, especially because he knew his crush was going to be there. 

‘Specially’ Example Sentences

  • Many people who wear wigs have them specially made to fit their heads. 
  • The artist specially chooses and individualizes the materials for her one-of-a-kind jewelry. 
  • The catering company made sure they had all the specially requested vegetarian and gluten-free meals. 
  • The company prides itself on only having specially handcrafted goods to sell

‘Especially’ vs ‘Specially’ Example Sentences

  • She was especially excited about the school dance since she had her dress specially made to match her shoes. 
  • After reviewing all the specially requested materials, he was not especially excited to attend the meeting. 
  • The small business had upped their sales this month, especially since offering specially made headpieces. 

Final Advice on ‘Especially’ vs ‘Specially’

When one letter makes all the difference in a word, you have to be extra mindful of when and how to use it. Words like ‘Especially’ vs ‘Specially’ can be extra confusing given that they sound similar and have relatively similar functions that make them easy to mix up. But, if you focus on enunciating in conversation and being deliberate with context, you’ll master these words in no time. 

Want a review? Here’s a recap of what was covered:

  • ‘Especially’ is an adverb that means to a great extent, or very much. 
  • Meanwhile, ‘Specially’ is an adverb that means in a distinct or particular way. 

These two words are not the only ones that differ by just one letter. Be sure to investigate other confusing words to continue building your vocabulary and expanding your knowledge of the English language. And remember, context is key!

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Written By:
Katie Moore
Katie is a recent graduate of Occidental College where she worked as a writer and editor for the school paper while studying linguistics and journalism. She loves helping others find their voice in writing and making their work the strongest it can be. Katie also loves learning and speaking other languages and wants to help make writing accessible for everyone.

Add new comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WritingTips.org Newsletter
Receive information on
new articles posted, important topics, and tips.
Join Now
We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.