Vary vs very

When used as a transitive verb, vary means differ in size, amount or appearance, to make different from another, to bestow variety. When vary is used as an intransitive verb it means to be differentiated or diversified, to change something, to turn it into something less uniform. Related words are varies, varied, varying and varyingly. Vary comes from the Latin varius, which means diverse.

Very is an intensifier, an adverb or adjective used for emphasis. It means to a high degree. Very is employed to emphasize the description that follows. Very can also mean precise, in the sense that it intensifies the exact identity of something or someone. Very comes from the Latin verus, meaning true. Very is an extremely overused intensifier, think twice before using it in your communication.

Examples

The effect on utilities will vary in part by which states they operate in—and under what kind of regulatory structure. (The Wall Street Journal)

Costs can vary as much as 30 percent, depending on the state of residence, because Medicare Part D, which provides prescription coverage, and supplemental insurance, which covers some costs not covered by Medicare, vary by state. (Financial Advisor Magazine)

Predictions on the future of the environment starting to vary widely (High Plains Daily Leader & Times)

Care homes vary wildly in prescription of antipsychotics, study finds (The Globe and Mail)

Addictions Vary Depending on Where in the World You Live (The Pacific Standard)

Fittingly, this year’s Miss World Australia WA State finalists represent Australia but also countries as varied as Pakistan, Serbia and South Africa. (The West Australian)

Priefer said the ongoing open competition for the long-snapping job is “very, very even.” (The Minnesota StarTribune)

“We’ve played six games, I’ve played in five games and I have two goals and two assists, so it’s a very good performance for me and I’m happy with the performance.” (Manchester Evening News)

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