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Really vs. Absolutely: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 8, 2023
"Really" is used to express something that is actually the case or to emphasize the truth of a statement. "Absolutely" expresses complete and total affirmation or agreement.

Key Differences

"Really" and "absolutely" are both adverbs used for emphasis, but they differ in degree and context of use. "Really" is used to emphasize the truth of something or express surprise, while "absolutely" is a strong affirmative that leaves no room for doubt or disagreement. "Really" can suggest that something is genuine or authentic, whereas "absolutely" conveys a sense of totality or certainty.
When using "really," one might be seeking confirmation or expressing interest, as in "Do you really think so?" or "I really enjoyed the movie." It can also indicate a degree of skepticism or a request for assurance. "Absolutely," however, is definitive; it's like saying "completely" or "undoubtedly." When someone says "Absolutely!" in response to a question, they leave no ambiguity about their position.
In the realm of gradation, "really" is less absolute than "absolutely." If "really" were a nod, "absolutely" would be a vigorous head shake. For instance, saying "I'm really sure" suggests confidence, but "I'm absolutely sure" declares an unassailable certainty. "Really" can modify adjectives and other adverbs to a strong degree, but "absolutely" often modifies adjectives that don't admit gradation, such as "perfect," "certain," or "impossible."
The nuances of "really" can be subtle. It can intensify what follows or, in a question, can express disbelief or surprise. "Absolutely" has less flexibility—it's the ultimate confirmation. It's not used to question or intensify; it's used to confirm. For example, "Are you really going?" might get the answer "Yes, I am really going," which suggests some emphasis, but "Absolutely!" as a response is the conversational equivalent of a double underline.
While "really" can be used to casually intensify statements or questions, "absolutely" often marks the peak of agreement or certainty. It's the difference between turning up the volume a notch ("really") and cranking it to the maximum ("absolutely"). Both serve to affirm, but "absolutely" does so with finality, and "really" does so with a range that can imply wonder, interest, or varying levels of certainty.

Comparison Chart

Degree of Emphasis

Strong emphasis, but can imply doubt.
Complete emphasis, no doubt implied.

Type of Use

Questioning, confirming, intensifying.
Asserting, agreeing, confirming.


Can express a range of certainty.
Indicates full certainty or agreement.


May require further confirmation.
Acts as a standalone affirmation.


Can be moderate or strong.
Always denotes the highest intensity.

Really and Absolutely Definitions


Really is used to emphasize the truth.
I really appreciate all your help.


Absolutely is a strong affirmation of truth or fact.
This is absolutely the best cake I’ve ever had.


Really can express surprise or disbelief.
Did you really win the lottery?


Absolutely means completely or totally in agreement.
I absolutely agree with your point.


Really can seek confirmation.
Do you really think this is a good idea?


Absolutely can express something done without doubt or hesitation.
She absolutely dominated the competition.


Really means in fact or actually.
Was it really necessary to leave so early?


Absolutely is used to express certainty.
I am absolutely sure of my decision.


Really is often used to express enjoyment or pleasure.
I really loved the concert last night.


Absolutely can mean unconditional or unlimited.
You have my absolutely undivided attention.


In actual truth or fact
There isn't really a lake there.
It's just a mirage.


Without qualification or restriction; completely
The substance was absolutely pure.


To a great degree; very much
I would really like to meet your sister.


Used as an intensive
I absolutely love that restaurant. That's absolutely ridiculous.


Is "really" more casual than "absolutely"?

"Really" can be more casual and has a wider range of intensity.

Can "really" indicate doubt?

Yes, when posed as a question, "really" can express doubt or seek assurance.

Can "absolutely" indicate doubt?

No, "absolutely" is used to dispel doubt and convey certainty.

Is "absolutely" a formal expression?

"Absolutely" can be both formal and informal, depending on the context.

Does "really" modify verbs?

Yes, "really" can modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.

What does "absolutely" mean?

"Absolutely" means completely or totally, used to express full agreement or certainty.

Can "really" be used as a response to a question?

Yes, "really" can be used to affirm or question the truth of a statement.

Can "absolutely" be used as a response to a question?

Yes, "absolutely" is often used as a strong affirmative response.

Can "really" be used ironically?

Yes, "really" can be used ironically to mean the opposite of what is stated.

What does "really" mean?

"Really" means in fact or truly, used to emphasize a statement or a question.

Is "really" used in formal writing?

It can be, but with less frequency and usually not for strong emphasis.

Can "absolutely" be used ironically?

It's not commonly used ironically; "absolutely" typically conveys genuine agreement.

How can "really" be used in a sentence?

"I'm really happy to be here."

Is "absolutely" used in formal writing?

Yes, "absolutely" can be used in formal writing to convey strong affirmation.

Can "absolutely" soften a statement?

No, "absolutely" usually strengthens or confirms a statement.

What part of speech is "absolutely"?

"Absolutely" is also an adverb.

How can "absolutely" be used in a sentence?

"That is absolutely correct."

Does "absolutely" modify verbs?

No, "absolutely" typically modifies adjectives and other adverbs, but not verbs.

Can "really" soften a statement?

Yes, "really" can sometimes soften a statement or make it sound less direct.

What part of speech is "really"?

"Really" is an adverb.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited 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.

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