October 5, 2005

Literal vs. virtual

I’m literally dead on my feet.
We had virtually no resources.

Many of us have difficulty distinguishing between the meanings of “virtual” and “literal”

“Literal” means “actual, without interpretation or embellishment.” It doesn’t mean “almost.”

“Virtual” means “not real.” It implies a representation of something, but not the thing itself.

Someone “literally” dead on her feet wouldn’t remain vertical for long! Instead, you’d write, “I‘m virtually dead on my feet (not really dead, but a good representation of dead).”

And rather than, “We had virtually no resources,” you’d write, “We had literally no resources (no actual resources at all).”

Posted by pboyles at October 5, 2005 3:42 AM

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