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Something that is real is something that you can see or something that is true. You can use this as an adjective when describing people or objects:

  • Those are real diamonds.
  • Donna thinks the coat is made with real fur, but it’s just polyester.
  • He’s a real lawyer. He went to law school and passed the bar exam.
  • These apples look real, but they’re artificial. They’re just used as decorations.
  • Is this real chicken? (This question is often asked at fast food restaurants where the chicken is processed and compressed. It’s not natural.)
  • Their love is real.

man eating chicken Is this real chicken?

Sometimes the word "real" is used as an intensifier, a word which increases the degree of the thing it describes.

  • That is a real problem. (This is a big problem.)
  • This customer is a real pain in the neck.
  • We need real solutions that can fix our economy.
  • Bob is a real friend when you need someone to be there for you.

Some students confuse the words "real" and "really." Remember, "real" is an adjective that describes nouns and "really" is an adverb that can be used with verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs:

  • This is a really big problem.
  • This customer is really hard to deal with.
  • We really need to fix our economy.
  • Bob is a really good friend.

Recently, the word "really" has been used to question a person’s reason for doing something. The emphasis on "really" has the affect of identifying stupidity.

  • He took his kids out on a boat without life vests or life preservers? Really?
  • You bought a car without ever driving it? Really?
  • They burn their garbage in their backyard? Really? That’s illegal. Really?

If you need help with the word "really," watch this video.

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This page was first published on August 21, 2012. It was updated on August 22, 2015.



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