• 2-minute read
  • 1st September 2015

Word Choice: Eventually vs. Ultimately

Even when words differ in both pronunciation and spelling, it’s still possible to get them mixed up. And this is usually because their meanings overlap in some way, as is the case with ‘eventually’ and ‘ultimately’.

But it’s vital to avoid this kind of error if you want to communicate clearly, particularly in academic writing and at work. So to help you master using these words, we’ve prepared this handy guide.

Eventually (In the Future)

The word ‘eventually’ is an adverb meaning ‘at an unspecified future time’. Typically, we use it when describing something that we expect to happen after an unspecified length of time. For instance?

With enough practice I’ll eventually be an expert juggler.

We can also use it to indicate that something happened after a delay:

Bob stared blankly for a while, but eventually he looked the judge in the eye and pleaded his innocence one last time.

The important thing is that ‘eventually’ indicates that something has happened (or is expected to happen) after an unspecified amount of time.

Ultimately (In the End)

The word ‘ultimately’ is also an adverb, though means ‘finally’ or ‘at the end of a process’. For example, we might say:

The managerial changes were what ultimately saved the company.

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In addition, we can use ‘ultimately’ to emphasise a fundamental fact (as if it were the concluding point in an argument):

Ultimately, English can be a difficult language to learn.

Ultimately, this term implies that something is a conclusion or end point.

Eventually or Ultimately?

Some people confuse these words because both can describe the end point of a gradual process. However, whether you should use ‘eventually’ or ‘ultimately’ depends on what you’re describing:

Eventually = Something which occurs after an unspecified length of time

This can indicate a conclusion, but it doesn’t always have to. You could say, for example, that ‘after procrastinating, I eventually began my coursework’.

Ultimately = The concluding point of a process or series of events

This is more specific than ‘eventually’, so it can add clarity to your work. And if you still need help, the professionals at Proofed will check every aspect of your writing. Try submitting a 500-word sample for free today.

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