Tuesday, November 14, 2006

While We're at It...

...Let's clear up the whole adverb thing, too, shall we?

Adverbs are used to modify verbs. They describe, generally, how something is or is done. For example:

Robin paints very beautifully.

Very and beautifully are adverbs - "beautifully" modifies (describes) how Robin paints and "very" modifies beautifully.

Now, while it's not a hard-and-fast rule, most adverbs end in "ly." I'm astounded, and more than a little concerned, that there seem to be an awful lot of people who don't know that (or, being fair, it could just be that a lot of people simply don't care). I can't tell you how often I will be listening to something - the news, a t.v. show, people talking in the lobby of an office - and hear them drop the "ly" off the end of most of their adverbs:

"It all happened so quick, I didn't have time to react."

"I baked a cake last night, and it came out really nice."

"You did that perfect!"

It's particularly funny when Husband and I are together. We'll hear someone drop the "ly" off of an adverb, turn to teach other, and mouth "LEE!" It just makes us feel better because, you know, it's rude to correct the grammar of perfect strangers.

Now, lest you think I go around getting my jollies by making fun of other people's poor grammar - I don't. It makes me sad, more than anything else, to think that either they didn't get the attention they deserved in school or that they just don't care. We have a beautiful, complex language, and I'm concerned that, little by little, it's slipping out of the grasp of a lot of Americans.


Blogger Kizz said...

Have you ever seen the musical 1776? There's a song sung by representative Robert Henry LEE and it's essentially a song of adjectives. You should see if you can download it, it would make you VERY happy.

November 14, 2006 11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aren't you the same person who found grammar boring and preferred to teach poetry & literature?

November 14, 2006 3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope my grammar doesn't offend you...but I agree! I think grammar in general needs more attention in schools. Because we ain't not speakin correctly. hehe

November 14, 2006 3:53 PM  
Blogger Mrs.Chili said...

Boring? No. I don't find grammar boring, though I DO think that the concentrated study of it isn't really the best way to go. Grammar should be taught as a PART of teaching literature and poetry, I think. It's FAR more meaningful if the students can actually use it in organic ways.

If I had my wish, I wouldn't teach a straight grammar class. I would much prefer to teach the mechanics of the language while actually USING the language...

November 14, 2006 4:39 PM  
Blogger feather said...

I took a grammar class last semester and it was one of the most fun and awesome courses I've ever been in. The professor did use beautiful poetry and literature as examples, and our "textbook" was a 200 page hodgepodge of grammar exercises and short stories and poetry and assignments to map out sentences by Proust.

It was so cool.

(But I do I feel guilty on a daily basis for how shamefully I have failed to apply all I learned to writing blog posts.)

November 14, 2006 5:40 PM  
Blogger Cassie said...

Feather has a point. Applying proper grammar to blogs is difficult. I seem to forget everything I've ever learned the moment that Blank Blog Page of Death opens.

On the other hand, my Special Man Friend mocks the fact that I add apostrophes and commas to my text messages.

He also thinks it is quite hysterical when I fall into an epileptic fit with my head spinning off into another dimension because someone uses the wrong 'your'!!!

There are just SOME things that REALLY get you!

November 14, 2006 10:24 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

I agree that it's irritating - hearing 'good' misused as 'well' is like nails on a blackboard for me.

But just to play devil's advocate: instead of saying that good grammar is slipping out of our grasps, what if our language is simply evolving? "It all happened so quick" "The cake came out nice" and "You did that perfect" are all perfectly understandable statements. I say, let's eliminate adverbs complete!

November 15, 2006 3:19 AM  
Anonymous Derek said...

My favorite grammatical conundrum comes from the word 'bad.'

"I feel bad," as in emotions or health or sympathy

"I feel badly," as in, my sense of touch is broken.

Are either of these correct?

November 15, 2006 9:31 AM  

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