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Partly Cloudy vs. Mostly Sunny: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 16, 2024
"Partly cloudy" indicates a fair amount of cloud cover, often with significant sun visibility, while "mostly sunny" suggests a greater proportion of sunshine with some cloud presence.

Key Differences

Partly cloudy refers to weather conditions where clouds cover a significant portion of the sky but still allow for noticeable sunshine. Mostly sunny, on the other hand, describes a day where the sun predominates despite the presence of some clouds.
In a partly cloudy scenario, clouds are prominent enough to be a defining feature of the weather, yet they do not completely obscure the sun. Conversely, mostly sunny conditions imply that any clouds present have little impact on the overall brightness and prevalence of sunshine.
The term partly cloudy is often used to convey a balance between sun and clouds, hinting at variable weather conditions. Mostly sunny, however, leans more towards a sunny day with only a minor interruption by clouds.
When forecasting weather, partly cloudy suggests a higher probability of cloudiness during the day, whereas mostly sunny indicates a lower chance of cloud cover and a higher likelihood of continuous sun exposure.
In terms of perception, partly cloudy might be interpreted as slightly less optimistic than mostly sunny, with the latter suggesting a more pleasant, sunnier day overall.

Comparison Chart

Cloud Coverage

Significant, but with visible sun
Minimal, with sun being more dominant

Implication of Sunshine

Noticeable, but equally balanced with clouds
Predominant, with minimal cloud interference


Balanced between sun and clouds
More optimistic, leaning towards sunny

Weather Forecasting

Higher probability of cloud presence
Lower chance of cloud cover

General Outlook

Variably cloudy conditions
Consistently sunny with few clouds

Partly Cloudy and Mostly Sunny Definitions

Partly Cloudy

A condition where clouds cover a substantial part of the sky.
The forecast predicted a partly cloudy morning.

Mostly Sunny

A condition where sunshine predominates the sky.
The forecast is mostly sunny for the weekend.

Partly Cloudy

Weather with a notable mix of clouds and sun.
The day was partly cloudy, with sun breaks in the afternoon.

Mostly Sunny

Weather with more sun than clouds.
The beach was perfect on this mostly sunny day.

Partly Cloudy

Skies with intermittent clouds and sunshine.
We enjoyed the partly cloudy day at the park.

Mostly Sunny

Predominantly sunny conditions with minimal clouds.
The outdoor event was a success in the mostly sunny weather.

Partly Cloudy

A mix of clouds and sun without complete overcast.
The picnic happened under partly cloudy conditions.

Mostly Sunny

Skies primarily clear with some cloud cover.
We had a great hike under mostly sunny skies.

Partly Cloudy

Weather characterized by variable cloudiness.
The partly cloudy skies made for a pleasant day.

Mostly Sunny

Weather with a small amount of cloudiness.
It was a mostly sunny morning with clear views.


Is mostly sunny ideal for outdoor activities?

Yes, it usually suggests good weather for outdoor plans.

How is mostly sunny defined?

Mostly sunny indicates that the majority of the sky is clear with some clouds.

Does partly cloudy mean less sun?

It means a balanced presence of both sun and clouds.

What does partly cloudy mean?

It means there is a significant presence of clouds, but the sun is also visible.

Can partly cloudy skies clear up?

Yes, depending on changing weather patterns.

Can mostly sunny days have high UV exposure?

Yes, with more sun, UV exposure can be higher.

Is partly cloudy more common in certain seasons?

It can be more common in transitional seasons like spring and fall.

Can partly cloudy turn into rain?

It's possible, depending on other weather conditions.

Are mostly sunny days hotter?

They can be warmer due to more sun exposure.

Does mostly sunny mean no rain?

Not necessarily, but the chance of rain is usually lower.

Is mostly sunny the same as clear skies?

Not exactly; mostly sunny still includes some clouds.

Is mostly sunny a common summer forecast?

Yes, it's typical in many places during summer.

How accurate are partly cloudy forecasts?

They are generally accurate but can change with weather patterns.

How do partly cloudy and mostly sunny affect photography?

Partly cloudy can create dynamic lighting, while mostly sunny offers bright, clear conditions.

Are these terms used worldwide?

Yes, but their interpretation can vary based on local weather patterns.

Can partly cloudy be used at night?

Yes, it can describe night skies with some cloud coverage.

Does mostly sunny vary by geographic location?

Yes, the interpretation can vary based on local climate.

Should sunscreen be used on mostly sunny days?

Absolutely, to protect against sunburn and UV damage.

Is partly cloudy considered good weather?

It's generally pleasant, though subjective to personal preference.

Can partly cloudy conditions affect mood?

Yes, some people may find it less uplifting than mostly sunny.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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