Special vs. Specifically

What's the Difference?

Special and specifically are both adjectives that are used to describe something unique or distinct. However, special is a more general term that can be used to describe anything that is out of the ordinary or exceptional, while specifically is more precise and focused, indicating that something is tailored or designed for a particular purpose or person. Special can be used in a broader sense, while specifically is used to highlight a specific detail or aspect.


DefinitionExceptional or different from what is usualIn a detailed and precise manner
UsageCan be used to describe something unique or extraordinaryUsed to specify or clarify a particular detail
ScopeCan refer to a wide range of things that stand outTypically used to narrow down or focus on a specific aspect
MeaningImplies a sense of distinction or importanceIndicates a clear and precise intention or purpose

Further Detail


Special and specifically are two words that are often used interchangeably, but they actually have distinct meanings. Special is an adjective that means better, greater, or otherwise different from what is usual. It is often used to describe something that is unique or out of the ordinary. Specifically, on the other hand, is an adverb that means in a detailed and exact way. It is used to indicate that something is being singled out or explicitly stated.


Special is commonly used to describe things that are exceptional or extraordinary. For example, a special occasion might refer to a birthday or anniversary that is particularly significant. On the other hand, specifically is used to pinpoint something in particular. For instance, if someone asks for directions to a specific location, they are asking for guidance to that exact place.


Special is often used in a more general sense, while specifically is used to provide more precise information. For example, if someone is looking for a special gift for a loved one, they may be open to a variety of options. However, if they are specifically looking for a red scarf, their search is narrowed down to a specific item. In this way, special is more open-ended, while specifically is more focused.


Special is often used to emphasize the uniqueness or importance of something. For example, a special award might be given to someone who has made a significant contribution. Specifically, on the other hand, is used to draw attention to a particular detail or aspect. If someone is giving instructions, they may use specifically to highlight a crucial step that should not be overlooked.


Special can sometimes be vague or ambiguous, as it does not provide specific details. For example, if someone says they have a special surprise for you, you may not know what to expect. Specifically, on the other hand, is clear and leaves no room for confusion. If someone says they need you to specifically address an envelope, you know exactly what is required.


  • Special: The restaurant has a special menu for Valentine's Day.
  • Specifically: The instructions specifically state to mix the ingredients in a certain order.
  • Special: She received a special award for her outstanding performance.
  • Specifically: The document specifically outlines the steps to follow in case of an emergency.


In conclusion, special and specifically are two words that have distinct meanings and are used in different contexts. Special is often used to describe something that is exceptional or unique, while specifically is used to provide detailed and exact information. Understanding the differences between these two words can help improve clarity and precision in communication.

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