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Commonly vs. Typically — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Urooj Arif — Published on March 7, 2024
"Commonly" refers to something done by a large number of people or occurring frequently, while "typically" describes what is considered usual or representative of a type or category.
Commonly vs. Typically — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Commonly and Typically


Key Differences

"Commonly" is used to describe actions, behaviors, or occurrences that are widespread or frequent among a particular group or in a specific context. It emphasizes the commonality or prevalence of something. For example, it is commonly known that eating vegetables is beneficial for health, highlighting a widespread understanding or practice.
"Typically" focuses on what is characteristic or expected based on prevailing norms or standards. It points to a standard or usual example of something, such as in, "Cats typically dislike water," indicating a general tendency rather than an absolute rule.
When discussing practices or habits, "commonly" suggests a broad participation without implying a standard or norm. It simply states that something happens often. In contrast, "typically" suggests a normative or expected pattern, often based on historical or statistical data, indicating that an action or trait is representative of a usual case.
In terms of usage, "commonly" can refer to things that are widespread across different contexts or cultures, not tied to a specific standard but rather to frequency or prevalence. "Typically" is used when comparing something against a known standard or average, implying a comparison to what is standard or expected in a given situation.
The choice between "commonly" and "typically" often depends on whether the speaker wishes to emphasize the frequency of occurrence ("commonly") or the adherence to a standard or norm ("typically"). While both can sometimes be used interchangeably, their nuances affect the preciseness of the statement being made.
"Commonly" might be used in contexts where there is an emphasis on the collective or communal aspect of an action or trait, whereas "typically" might be preferred in contexts where the focus is on categorizing or establishing what is considered normal or standard for a particular group or scenario.

Comparison Chart


Done by a large number of people or occurring often
Usual or characteristic of a type or category


Frequency or prevalence
Norms or standards

Context Usage

Broad, across various contexts or cultures
Specific, comparing against a known standard


No standard implied, just widespread occurrence
Implies a standard or expectation is being met


"It's commonly known that..."
"Cats typically dislike water."

Comparison Basis

Prevalence in a population or frequency of occurrence
Adherence to what is considered usual or normal


Collective or communal aspect emphasized
Focus on categorizing or establishing norms

Compare with Definitions


Widely accepted or known.
It is commonly accepted that the Earth orbits the Sun.


Characteristic of a particular type.
Birds typically have feathers.


Done frequently by many.
Walking is a commonly recommended form of exercise.


Usually happens in a specific way.
He typically arrives at work at 9 AM.


Prevalent in a particular area.
Rice is commonly eaten in many Asian countries.


Represents a standard or norm.
A typical breakfast in the UK includes eggs and bacon.


Typically used in general statements.
People commonly use smartphones to access the internet.


Commonly used to establish norms.
The meetings are typically held in the main conference room.


Often found or seen.
Cold temperatures are commonly experienced in winter.


Indicates an expectation.
The train is typically on time.


Belonging equally to or shared equally by two or more; joint
Common interests.


Exhibiting the qualities, traits, or characteristics that identify a kind, class, group, or category
A typical suburban community.


Of or relating to the community as a whole; public
For the common good.


Of or relating to a representative specimen; characteristic or distinctive.


Widespread; prevalent
Gas stations became common as the use of cars grew.


Conforming with what usually happens
The bus is late again? That's so typical!.


A tract of land, usually in a centrally located spot, belonging to or used by a community as a whole
A band concert on the village common.


In a typical or common manner.


As a rule; frequently; usually.


In a typical manner;
Tom was typically hostile


Usually; generally; ordinarily; frequently; for the most part; as, confirmed habits commonly continue through life.

Common Curiosities

Can something be "commonly" done but not "typically" done?

Yes, if something is done frequently by many but doesn’t conform to the usual standards or expectations, it might be "commonly" but not "typically" done.

Is "typically" a judgment of what is normal?

"Typically" describes what is considered normal or usual, based on observation or statistics, without necessarily making a value judgment.

Is "typically" only used for behaviors?

No, "typically" can describe anything that is considered usual or characteristic, including behaviors, traits, or events.

Can "commonly" and "typically" be used interchangeably?

While they can sometimes be used interchangeably, their nuances mean they often convey slightly different meanings.

Does "typically" suggest that there are exceptions to the norm?

Yes, using "typically" acknowledges that while there is a usual way or characteristic, exceptions may exist.

Does using "typically" imply a judgment or bias?

Not necessarily. "Typically" describes what is usual or expected based on observation or consensus, without intending to express a judgment or bias.

Can "commonly" refer to universal truths?

"Commonly" refers to what is frequently observed or widely accepted, which may include universal truths but is primarily focused on widespread practices or beliefs.

Does "commonly" imply something is always true?

No, "commonly" indicates frequency or prevalence, not universality.

How does context affect the choice between "commonly" and "typically"?

The choice depends on whether the emphasis is on the frequency of an occurrence across a broad range or on the adherence to a specific standard or norm within a given context.

Is it correct to use "commonly" when referring to cultural practices?

Yes, "commonly" is appropriate for cultural practices as it highlights their prevalence within a culture without implying they are universal or normative.

Is it more precise to use "typically" in scientific writing?

"Typically" can be preferred for its emphasis on standard patterns or outcomes, which helps in presenting data or conclusions within established frameworks.

Can "commonly" and "typically" be used to describe the same phenomenon from different perspectives?

Yes, "commonly" could highlight the frequency of occurrence, while "typically" focuses on how well it fits within recognized patterns or standards, offering complementary perspectives.

How do "commonly" and "typically" relate to statistical analysis?

"Commonly" might be used in relation to a broad observation of data points, while "typically" could be used to describe the central tendency or expected value based on statistical norms.

How do "commonly" and "typically" affect the tone of a statement?

"Commonly" can give a statement a broader, more inclusive tone, while "typically" might make it sound more definitive or constrained by norms.

Can a behavior be "typically" observed in one context but "commonly" in another?

Yes, a behavior might be typical in a specific setting (suggesting it’s the norm there) but commonly observed across various contexts without being the norm in those.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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