Adverb or adjective? Sometimes a close call

By Gene Owens Published: December 6, 2007
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Tom Furlong of Oklahoma City sees a trend toward using adjectives where adverbs are needed. An example is Apple's latest slogan: ‘Think different.'” Tom prefers "Think differently.”

The purpose of advertising is to sell goods, not to reflect good grammar. "Sonic's got it, others don't” sells fast food, even if it is imperfect grammar.

Buck would give Apple a passing grade on "Think different.” Sometimes what looks like an adverbial situation is really an adjectival situation. Does Apple mean "Think in a different manner”? If so,"differently” is the correct word because it tells how to "think.” Does it mean, "Think about different things”? If so, "different” is the word, because it describes "things” and not "thinking.”

Some people object to the use of "importantly” in contexts such as this: "Fred Homebody is a good carpenter. More importantly, he is a good citizen.” Buck understands the sentence to mean "What's more important, he's a good citizen.” Webster's says "important” is always the modifier of choice after "more” and "most.” But the American Heritage Dictionary says there's no good reason for preferring one over the other.

"Mayor Loosecannon looked importantly on the reviewing stand,” Betty Jean Hackberry said.

"He couldn't take his eyes off Miss Swayback in her bikini,” Miss Lulabelle said. "It's hard to look important while you're staring idiotically.”

Send questions to Gene Owens, 317 Braeburn Drive, Anderson SC 29621 or via e-mail to BucksEnglish@aol.com. Please let Buck know what town you're from.




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