Virtually Synonym

Virtually Synonym: When “Almost” Just Doesn’t Cut It

I’ve always been a stickler for using words properly. As an aspiring writer, I believe that language matters. So when people use “virtually” as a synonym for “almost,” it makes me cringe. I used to correct people, pointing out the distinction, but eventually I realized what a virtual killjoy I was being. While some meanings…

I’ve always been a stickler for using words properly. As an aspiring writer, I believe that language matters. So when people use “virtually” as a synonym for “almost,” it makes me cringe. I used to correct people, pointing out the distinction, but eventually I realized what a virtual killjoy I was being. While some meanings evolve over time, the purist in me refuses to accept it. Join me on my quest as I dig into whether “virtually” can be considered virtually synonym for “almost.” I’ll examine the nuances and why it matters to use words precisely. After all, an almost synonym is not the same as a virtual one.

The Meaning of “Virtually”

As you know, “virtually” is used when something is almost or nearly the case.

For example, if I say “virtually all students passed the exam,” it means nearly every student passed, but maybe one or two didn’t.

Virtually is a useful word when you want to convey that something is largely or essentially the case, without being quite 100% absolute. ###It leaves a little wiggle room, a tiny bit of uncertainty. So if you tell your friend “I have virtually finished my work for the day,” you’re signaling that you’ve accomplished most of what you needed to do, but perhaps there are one or two little things left to wrap up.

We often use virtually to convey that something is the case in every important or meaningful sense, even if not technically or precisely. ###For instance, two baseball teams with a big talent gap could play a series of games that were “virtually impossible” for the underdog to win. The outcomes were almost inevitable, for all intents and purposes, even if technically still possible.

So next time you want to convey that something is nearly, almost or essentially the case, consider using the word virtually. ###It’s a useful way to add nuance and signal that you don’t mean to be quite 100% absolute or definitive in your statement. After all, in life and language, a little wiggle room can go a long way.

When to Use “Virtually” vs. “Almost”

When I want to express that something is nearly or very close to being the case, I have two options: virtually or almost. As a writer, knowing when to use which can make a big difference.


I use virtually when I want to convey that something is essentially or practically the case. For example, “The new laptop had virtually no battery life left after only two hours.” Here, virtually emphasizes that the battery was for all intents and purposes depleted, even if not technically completely dead.

Virtually also implies that something is true in every important respect, even if not literally. For instance, “The rival candidates were virtually tied going into the final week of campaigning.” While not exactly even, they were close enough that either could have reasonably won.


I prefer almost when I want to indicate that something narrowly missed being the case. For example, “I almost missed my flight this morning after hitting terrible traffic.” Almost suggests that I just barely made it, probably with seconds to spare.

Almost also works well when you want to convey that something was on the cusp of happening but didn’t quite get there. For example, “The legislation almost passed but was defeated at the last moment.” Almost implies it was close but ultimately fell short.

So in summary, virtually implies essentially or nearly something in a practical sense, while almost suggests narrowly missing or just failing to achieve something. Using the right word can make a big difference in conveying the precise meaning and nuance you intend.

Other Common Synonyms for “Virtually”

Essentially, virtually means the same as almost or nearly. Personally, I like to use synonyms in my writing to avoid repetition and make things more interesting for readers. A few of my favorite synonyms for virtually are:

Practically – This is a simple substitute that gets the point across in a straightforward way. For example, “The meeting lasted practically all day.”

Effectively – This synonym implies that something is the case for all practical purposes. For instance, “The new process effectively eliminated wasted time.”

In effect – Very similar to effectively, this phrase is a concise way to say the same thing. As in, “The storm in effect cut off power for three days.”

For all intents and purposes – A bit wordy but clearly conveys the intended meaning. As in, “For all intents and purposes, the project was finished.”

To all purposes – A shortened version of the previous option. For example, “To all purposes, it was a done deal.”

Good synonyms are like a secret weapon for any writer. Keep a list of options for common words like virtually so you have them at the ready whenever you need to mix things up. Your readers will appreciate the variety.

Using “Virtually” in a Sentence

Virtually is one of my favorite words to use when I want to convey that something is almost, nearly or practically the case. I find myself using it often in casual conversation to emphasize a point.

For example, I might say: “I have virtually no free time this weekend between errands, chores and social commitments.” What I mean is that I have nearly no spare time, my schedule is almost entirely booked. But virtually softens it and suggests there’s a tiny sliver of hope I might find an hour to relax!

Another example could be: “The presentation went virtually flawlessly, aside from one small tech glitch at the start.” This conveys that the presentation was nearly perfect, practically seamless, except for one minor issue. Virtually is a great way to highlight how well something went while still acknowledging a small imperfection.

I try not to overuse virtually in my writing, but when I do employ it, I aim to do so for emphasis or to make a point in an understated yet compelling way. It’s a word that can add color to your language and help you get your message across with subtly. Give it a try and see how virtually fits into your own writing style!

Virtually Synonym FAQs

As an avid writer, I get asked a lot of questions about using ‘virtually’ as a synonym. Here are a few of the common ones:

Is ‘virtually’ interchangeable with ‘almost’?

Not exactly. ‘Virtually’ implies something is very nearly the case, but ‘almost’ suggests it’s still somewhat far from it. I use ‘virtually’ when something is essentially or practically so, even if not completely. For example, “After winning the lottery, she was virtually rich overnight.” Versus, “After years of hard work, she was almost ready to retire.”

What about ‘nearly’ or ‘practically’?

These are also close in meaning, but have slightly different connotations. ‘Nearly’ implies very close to, as in “I nearly fell asleep during that lecture.” ‘Practically’ suggests in effect or for all practical purposes, like “Her criticism was practically an insult.” I may use these when I want to convey being on the brink of something or when there’s a negligible difference.

Are there any synonyms I should avoid as being too extreme?

Words like ‘absolutely’, ‘totally’ or ‘entirely’ are too extreme and imply completeness. Using them as synonyms for ‘virtually’ may be an overstatement. For example, “After one date, he was absolutely in love with her,” is an exaggeration, whereas “After one date, he was virtually in love with her,” suggests strong feelings, but still allows for some uncertainty.

In the end, choosing the right synonym comes down to nuance and ensuring the meaning and tone you want to convey are appropriately expressed. With practice, virtually perfect synonym selection can become second nature!


Well, there you have it folks. While “virtually” might seem like a handy stand-in for “almost,” the two words aren’t quite synonymous. Using them interchangeably can change the meaning of your sentences in subtle but significant ways. I hope this breakdown shed some light on when to reach for “virtually” versus “almost.” And maybe next time you catch yourself about to type one, you’ll pause and consider if the other word is really a better fit. Language is awesomely complex that way. Thanks for tuning in today! If you enjoyed this post, stay tuned – we’ve got lots more nuanced word nerdery coming your way soon.

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