Learn English – When should “literally” be used

word-usage

We all know that literally is being overused currently. I want to know if literally should only be used in contrast to situations which are normally figurative in common usage. For example:

It literally took him an hour to get here. (not a figurative
expression)

I am literally starving to death. (Figurative expression made literal
because the person is actually starving to death.)

Literally is used for the latter example, correct?

Best Answer

Hmm. I think 'literally' could be used when the listener might otherwise think you are exaggerating, even if not employing a figure of speech.

I literally spent hours stuck in traffic this morning.

i.e actual hours, not rhetorical 'hours'.