Adverbs: Speaking Correctly

Posted on: October 17, 2009
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By Rocky Reichman


Everybody hates Adverbs these days. Those words ending with the suffix -ly are looked upon with murderous eyes. Most grammar articles concerning adverbs only talk about how bad they are. Why writers should never ever ever use them. One article I read even urged the reader “kill” Adverbs.

But, I say, don’t be hatin’.

This article is written in Adverbs’ defense, not prosecution. Usually adverbs get nothing but criticism. But they are under attack. The -ly suffix is being under-used. But Adverbs deserve more. Why?

Adverbs are getting less popular in the English lexicon. People forget to use them more and more often. They are ignorant of the -ly suffix. If someone asks you how you scored on a test, “I did bad” is incorrect grammar. It sounds awkward, too. Clumsy. “I did badly on my test” is correct grammar. And it makes sense.

Take it seriously when someone forgets their adverbs. An answer like “I did bad on my test” should elicit a perplexed response: “What? Huh? What in the English lexicon did you just say?” You get the point.

Popular lingo determines how the mainstream speaks. Which is why it is not surprising that this “anti-adverb” trend is catching most easily with teenagers and the younger generation. Sure, today they may be the only ones making the mistake. But what happens in a few years, when they influence future generations to adopt the same mistake? And certainly “anti-Adverb-iness” is spreading to other speakers. Soon it may even become acceptable to discount Adverbs.

That is why using -ly where necessary is so important. We cannot forget about Adverbs, those unused words that we need to modify verbs. When Adverbs are dropped, language becomes awkward. Clunky and clumsy. “I did bad” certainly sounds less steady than “I did badly.” So don’t hate Adverbs, use them.

Adverbs may get back their old popularity. I’m not saying it will be quick, but it may indeed happen quickly.


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