Sunday, March 09, 2014

Really Real and for Real, Really: Adjective-Adverb Confusion, Part 2

If you pay attention to how most people speak, you have likely heard these grammatical errors:

  1. I sure like you.
  2. You work real hard.
  3. He is an awful slow worker. 

In all three cases, we need an adverb (surely, really, awfully), not an adjective, but for different reasons. Adverbs can modify verbs, other adverbs, or adjectives:

  • In the first sentence, like is a verb, so we need the adverb surely to modify the verb like.
  • In the second sentence, hard modifies the verb work, so it is an adverb; therefore, we need an adverb, really, to modify the adverb hard.
  • In the third sentence, slow is an adjective modifying the noun worker; therefore, we need an adverb, awfully, to modify the adjective slow.
English grammar is tricky. Think about the function of words in sentences before pressing send.