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Jane Mairs, Director of English language Learning Publishing
Special or especial?
Monday July 2nd 2012
Question
Special or especial?
Answer

Question

What is the difference between the adjectives special and especial?

Answer

The meanings of the adjectives special and especial are more or less the same. They both mean “different and more than usual,” as in the examples below:

  • This is a matter of special importance.
  • Pay especial attention to the last paragraph.


However, special is by far more common than especial. In fact, according to COCA, the Corpus of Contemporary American English, special is used about 600 times for every one time that especial is used. In addition, unlike especial, special does not need to be followed by a noun, as in this example:

  • If you’re going to a business lunch, wear something special.


Since special is much more common, and its use is more flexible, I don’t recommend using especial at all. Note that in Spanish, however, the adjective especial is very common.


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