Global communications in English
Quick tips

‘Shortly’ or ‘briefly’?

Wrist watchDon’t confuse shortly and briefly.

Shortly normally means ‘soon, in a little while’, as in:

We will shortly be arriving at our destination
The plane crashed shortly after take-off
I’ll be dealing with that shortly.

Briefly means ‘for or in a short space of time’, as in:

We will be stopping briefly at Cairo.
Could you briefly explain what that means in practice?
He briefly served as Vice President.

Shortly only means ‘briefly’ in the predominantly British phrase to put it shortly, introducing a summary:

To put it shortly, it’s a mess.
To put it shortly, I disagree with your proposition entirely.

In short is also a popular way of introducing a summary in all varieties of English.

© 2014 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

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