A lot of adverbs end with the letters \u201c-ly.\u201d And some unrelated words thus sound similar, such as \u201cformally\u201d and \u201cformerly.\u201d So to make sure you can use these terms correctly, check out our guide to what they mean.\r\nFormally (In a Formal Manner)\r\n\u201cFormally\u201d is the adverbial form of the adjective \u201cformal.\u201d And since \u201cformal\u201d means \u201cofficial\u201d or \u201cin accordance with convention,\u201d we use \u201cformally\u201d when something is done in a formal manner. To dress \u201cformally,\u201d for example, usually means dressing smartly for a special occasion:\r\nWe dressed formally for the wedding.\r\nAlternatively, we could make a \u201cformal\u201d announcement. This would be a statement that makes something official (even if people already knew about it through hearsay):\r\nHe formally announced his resignation on Tuesday.\r\nThe opposite of \u201cformally\u201d is \u201cinformally.\u201d This implies doing something in a way that ignores official rules or conventions. The adjectival form is this word, meanwhile, is \u201cinformal.\u201d\r\nFormerly (Previously)\r\nThe word \u201cformerly\u201d means \u201cin the past\u201d or \u201cpreviously.\u201d For example:\r\nThe Google search engine was formerly called \u201cBackrub.\u201d\r\nHere, we\u2019re saying that Google was called \u201cBackrub\u201d before it was Google (which is true, weirdly). The adjectival form of this word is \u201cformer,\u201d which means \u201cfrom a past time.\u201d\r\n\r\n[caption id="attachment_5720" align="aligncenter" width="517"] All in all, it's probably a good thing they changed it.[\/caption]\r\nFormally or Formerly?\r\nAlthough these words sound similar, they don\u2019t mean the same thing. As such, you should be careful not to mix them up in your writing. Remember:\r\n\r\n \tFormally comes from \u201cformal\u201d and means \u201cofficially\u201d or \u201cin a formal way.\u201d\r\n \tFormerly comes from \u201cformer\u201d and means \u201cpreviously\u201d or \u201cin the past.\u201d\r\n\r\nSince the words \u201cformal\u201d and \u201cformer\u201d sound more distinct, moreover, you can use them to remind you what their adverbial forms mean. And if you want to be sure that your word choice is always correct in your writing, a little bit of proofreading can be a big help!