Professional Style

Hardy vs. Hearty

October 2009
Spot the Error

After enduring months of grueling physical therapy to regain control of his legs, Evan received a hardy round of applause from the hospital staff as he walked the length of the room unassisted.

In the sentence above, it may seem that hardy—meaning strong—was used properly. But it wasn’t. A more complete definition of hardy is capable of withstanding difficult conditions. An example of proper usage would be the following:

Despite its team of hardy explorers, Robert Scott’s expedition to the South Pole was ill-fated.

What’s needed in the “physical therapy” sentence is the sound-alike hearty, which means friendly or enthusiastic.

Because the meanings of hardy and hearty share a sense of robust, it’s easy to confuse the two words. To keep them straight, try this:

Use HARDy when your message concerns withstanding HARDships.

And use HEARTy when you want your message to convey HEARTfelt enthusiasm. Also use HEARTy when describing something nourishing or good for the HEART, such as a hearty bowl of soup.

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