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How do "simply" and "simple" differ in meaning?

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babiluvsyu | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 19, 2013 at 4:43 AM via web

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How do "simply" and "simple" differ in meaning?

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted August 19, 2013 at 4:29 PM (Answer #1)

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“Simply” is an adverb; it modifies verbs, adjectives, etc.  “Simple” is an adjective; it modifies nouns.  In normal speech, the signifier “simply” is used to mean “without excess” or “without complication” and is a way for the speaker to indicate that the speech or act referred to is without guile, without any complicated subtext: “This dessert is simply delicious” would mean that the speaker is giving the dessert his/her unqualified approval, without any other descriptors (sweet, tart, crispy, etc.). “Simple” as an adjective refers to the state or condition of an object or act:  “It comes with simple directions.”  The word “simple” also is sometimes used to refer to a person’s mental capacity, as a criticism:  “Don’t take him seriously; he is simple.”  In Shakespeare’s Sonnet 138, the line, “Simply I credit her false speaking tongue:”  means that the speaker is taking her utterance at face value, naively (some “translations use ‘foolishly’), without assigning any duplicitous motives to his love.


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