Even when words differ significantly in their pronunciation and spelling, as with ‘eventually’ and ‘ultimately’, it’s still possible to get them mixed up when their meanings overlap.

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But it’s important to avoid this kind of error if you want to communicate clearly, particularly in academic writing and at work. To help you master the use of these words, we’ve prepared this handy guide.

Eventually (In the Future)

The word ‘eventually’ is an adverb meaning ‘at an unspecified future time’, typically used when describing something expected to happen after an unstipulated length of time:

I’m still learning, but with enough practice I’ll eventually be an expert juggler.

It can also be used to indicate that something happened after a delay or pause:

Bob stared blankly for a while, but eventually he looked the judge in the eye and pleaded his innocence.

The important thing to remember is that ‘eventually’ indicates that something has happened (or is expected to happen) after an unspecified amount of time.

Ultimately (In the End)

Boot Muck Men's Boots Rubber Sport Arctic Performance Winter Black High The word ‘ultimately’ is also an adverb, though means ‘finally’ or ‘at the end of a process’:

The managerial changes were what ultimately saved the company.

In addition, ‘ultimately’ can be used to emphasise a fundamental fact (as if it were the concluding point in an argument):

Ultimately, English can be a difficult language to learn.

The key feature of ‘ultimately’ is that is implies something is a conclusion or end point.

Eventually or Ultimately?

These words are sometimes confused because both can describe the end point of a gradual process. However, whether you should use ‘eventually’ or ‘ultimately’ depends on what you’re describing:

Eventually = Something which occurs after an unspecified length of time

Arctic Black Muck Winter Men's Boots High Rubber Performance Boot Sport This can indicate a conclusion of a process, but it doesn’t always have to (you could say, for example, that ‘after procrastinating, I eventually began my coursework’).

Ultimately = The concluding point of a process or series of events

This is more specific than ‘eventually’, so using it correctly can help add clarity to your work.

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