WordReference Collins English Usage © 2019
You use actually when you want to emphasize that something is true, especially if it is surprising or unexpected.
All the characters in the novel actually existed.
Some people think that Dave is bad-tempered, but he is actually very kind.
You also use actually when you are mentioning something that is very surprising. You put actually in front of the surprising part of what you are saying.
He actually began to cry.
The value of oil has actually been falling in the last two years.
You can use actually if you want to correct what someone says.
‘Mr Hooper is a schoolteacher.’ – ‘A university lecturer, actually.’
If someone suggests something and you want to suggest something different, you can say ‘Actually, I’d rather...', or ‘Actually, I’d prefer to...'.
‘Shall we go out for dinner?’ – ‘Actually, I’d rather stay in tonight.'
Be careful
Don't use actually when you want to say that something is happening now. Use at present, at the moment, or right now.
He's in a meeting at the moment.
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