‘Especially’ or ‘specially’?

Generally speaking, especially and specially both mean ‘particularly’. The preference for using one word instead of the other is down to particular conventions of use rather than any deep difference in meaning. There is little to choose between:

I made it especially for Jonathan.


I made it specially for Jonathan.

On the other hand, especially means ‘to single out one person, thing, or situation above all others’ so it would be used correctly in the following sentence, where it would not be appropriate to use specially:

He despised them all, especially Sylvester.

In the following sentence, specially is correctly used as it means ‘for a special purpose’:

The cake was specially made for the occasion.

The use of especially would be considered somewhat unusual.

Overall, especially is by far the more common of the two, occurring twenty times as frequently as specially in the Oxford English Corpus.


Back to Usage.

You may also be interested in:

'Allude' or 'elude'?

'Historic' or 'historical'?

'Loose' or 'lose'?

Grammar and usage