Saturday, January 26, 2013

In defense of the adverb

Normally I am not too annoyed by some general language use changes that we as a culture introduce now and then. One item that I notice and get slightly agitated about is the lack of adverb use. While watching television, one of the TV personalities said something that highlights exactly why I like adverbs.

TV person: "How bad do you want it?"

Well, if you want to know how "badly" they want the implied prize or benefit conferred by the program that's one thing. But I imagined another meaning at first. Let's slightly rephrase the statement to say, "how bad do you want this sandwich?"

I can think of two interpretations. 1) How great is your desire for the sandwich? 2) How horrible and lousy would you like the sandwich to be? Do you want it just kind of bad, or should I spit into it before serving it to you?


  1. I love that my sciencey brother also dabbles in English. I am irritated when people say, "drive safe."

  2. I understand what you mean but I actually feel some sort of strange relief that native speakers are using their language badly. I hope that it makes my own mistakes less noticeable :) Although, on the other hand, it makes it harder to learn because I just don't know anymore which one is correct. I rely on Google by inserting sometimes sentences or phrases into it to see whether they are used by others or not.