grammatical word: almost

Today, I’d like to go over a word which my students usually use incorrectly: “almost”. I’m not sure about other languages, but in Japanese and Korean the word for “almost” has a slightly different grammar than it does in English. That is the reason why many people in those countries make mistakes when using it.

So, “almost” means “just less than” when talking about the quantity of something or the time. For example:

It’s almost 3:00 now.

The class is almost over.

There are almost 100 people who work in my department.

Almost 600 million people have gone to Disneyland since it first opened.

Almost all of the people at my company speak English well.

Almost everyone I know likes to watch movies.

Almost none of the people in my family have been overseas.

Almost nobody in the class could pass the test. I think only two people passed it.

So please note that if we use “almost” with a number, the number follows directly after “almost”. However, if we use “almost” with a noun such as “people”, we have to put another word between them; such words are often “all”, “every”, “no”, “none”, etc. We can also use it with words like “everyone” and “nobody”. However, we CANNOT say something like “Almost people in Japan like sushi.” Instead, we have to say something like:

Almost all people in Japan like sushi.

Almost every Japanese person likes sushi.

Almost everyone in Japan likes sushi.

The second way to use “almost” is when we want to talk about something which came close to happening but actually didn’t happen. For example:

My mother was in an accident. She almost died, but she’s going to be alright. 

My husband and I almost went to Italy for our honeymoon, but we decided to go to Hawaii instead.

Someone threw a rock at me. Luckily it didn’t hit me, but it almost did.

I was almost late for work today. I got to the office right at 9:00.

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