I have fewer interactions with people in English these days, and the ones I do interact with are either very good or beyond hope. That explains why I haven’t written in a while. But today, I come to you with an especially confusing problem – and chose to write this article specially for your help in understanding the problem.

See what I did there? Huh? Huh? Yeah, in one sentence, I told you the difference between “especially” and “specially”. But, let’s explore that in slightly better detail, yes?

I have been seeing a lot of people make this mistake, but here’s what you need to remember. “Especially” is used to mean “particularly”. So if you are talking about something in particular, something that stands out from others, you use “especially”. Examples:

The implementation of the new law was especially difficult on old people.
I want to see a gin palace in London, especially the Sipsmith.
She makes no exceptions, especially when it comes to family.

So in all the above cases, what we mean is a particular item. I want to see gin palaces in London, so I could be going to any of them, but I particularly want to go to Sipsmith. So I would “especially” want to see Sipsmith.

“Especially” can also mean “extremely”, like so:

It is especially cold today, don’t you agree?
Of all the cocktails on the menu, their Long Island Iced Tea is especially popular.

So they have a lot of cocktails on the menu, but the Bloody Mary doesn’t hold a candle to the Long Island Iced Tea because the latter is “extremely” popular. So Long Island Iced Tea is “especially” favoured by the patrons.

On the contrary, “specially” means “for a special purpose”. Simple. See these:

Mummy made the spicy chicken specially for your homecoming.
I bought a red pair of shoes, specially for your wedding.
David created this puzzle specially to challenge young grad students.

So you see, the chicken, the shoes, the puzzle all had a special purpose. Mummy made the chicken because someone was coming home. I bought the red pair of shoes because I was going to a wedding. There would ordinarily be no reason for me to buy those shoes that day, or for Mummy to make the chicken, but both of these were done because there was a special occasion. Hence, they were done “specially”.

Easy, peasy, innit?