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What have you got against adverbs? What did they ever do to you?

loudI’ve noticed a disturbing trend that seems to be happening in the English language–at least in American English. Every time I heard this mistake, I cringe and wonder why it’s happening.

Evidently, people are not using adverbs correctly anymore. I keep hearing the “-ly” dropped from words in sentences often, and it makes me wonder why this is happening. Is it a lack of proper verbal education–not being taught to speak properly? Is it ignorance? Or is it part of an evolutionary process occurring in American English? (I haven’t noticed it when listening to British English on British television shows, which is why I think it might only be in the United States.)

Let me use some of the sentences that I’ve used above as examples, in which I’ll drop the “-ly” from the descriptor of the verb in the sentence.

“Evidently, people are not using adverbs correct anymore….Is it a lack of proper verbal education–not being taught to speak proper?”

See what I mean? This bothers me to no end, because I’m starting to see it in written English too, and, well…


Perhaps I watch too much reality television that shows under-educated people who aren’t exactly the living examples of academia or professionalism. Even so, while I’ve noticed this trend in the past few years, it seems like it’s getting worse.  Is this evidence of the decay of American education? Perhaps.  I can tell you that being the “grammar police” of my household, this is always a concern to me. I want to make sure that my son speaks well and properly as he grows up and makes his way into the world. 

While I was writing this, it occurred to me that there is another consideration with this phenomenon related to technical communication.  This lack of correct adverb use can greatly affect translation and localization efforts. A huge issue that I’ve been hearing in tech comm is the need to write more clearly and in plain language to aid in better translation for localization.  If adverbs are not used correctly, how does that translate? In some languages, it might not matter, since some languages don’t use adverbs the same way English does. But most languages that I’ve ever encountered (and I’ve studied four, but far from mastered any of them) always had adverbs. Adverbs are simply proper grammar! So if improper grammar was used in a document, how would that reflect on the writer and the establishment the writer represented?

I implore my fellow technical communicators to please advocate for the adverb! Please make sure that adverbs are used properly, both in written and spoken language. We need to make corrections to preserve this important part of speech. Save the adverb!