- hard|ly [ `hardli ] adverb ***Hardly is a negative word and is often used with words like any and ever, but it should not be used with other negative words:We hardly ever do anything interesting.Hardly comes before the main verb of a sentence, but when there is a modal or auxiliary verb, hardly usually comes after it:I can hardly breathe.You have hardly done any work.In stories and in formal English, hardly is sometimes used at the beginning of a sentence before an auxiliary verb:Hardly had she begun to speak, when there was a shout from the back of the hall.Hardly is not related to the word hard.1. ) used for saying that something is almost not true or almost does not happen at all:He hardly spoke except to say hello.Alice was so busy she hardly noticed the days pass by.can hardly do something: We could hardly afford to pay the rent.hardly...at all: My old high school has hardly changed at all.a ) used before words such as ever, any, anyone, or anything to mean almost never, almost none, almost no one, etc.:There was hardly any wind, just a slight breeze.You've hardly eaten anything.Hardly anyone believed the fugitives' story.It hardly ever rains here in the summer.b ) hardly a day goes by/passes without something (doing something) used for saying that something happens almost every day:Hardly a day goes by without some company reporting losses.c ) used for saying that something is very little more or less than something:The region's wine industry is hardly more than 40 years old.New Haven is hardly an hour by train.2. ) used for saying that something had only just happened when something else happened:She had hardly arrived when she started talking about leaving again.hardly had...than/when: Hardly had the men started training than they were sent into battle.3. ) used when you think it is obvious that something is not true, not possible, not surprising, etc.:It's hardly surprising that people are starting to complain.David's almost twenty-four hardly a child.This is hardly the time to start discussing finances.you can hardly expect/blame etc. (=it would not be reasonable to expect, blame, etc.): You can hardly expect Myra to welcome you back after the way you've treated her.4. ) BRITISH SPOKEN used for answering no, when you think someone has suggested something that is impossible
Usage of the words and phrases in modern English. 2013.