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I'm not a native English speaker.

If at all possible I try to use spell checkers while writing anything on the web hence using one in Firefox as well. Whenever I try to write "seldomly" it highlights it as incorrect.

Is it really?


This particular word is seldomly used.

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Just for perspective, I am a native speaker of English, and I can remember the incident where I first came across the word 'seldom' (I was about 11 years old reading some Charlie Brown comic). I think that was the last time, too (maybe once in Jane Austen or some translation of Dostoyevsky). English speakers (at least AmE) hardly ever use that word. –  Mitch Apr 5 '11 at 2:19
I seldom use "seldomly". (And when I do, it's quite seldom, I assure you.) –  muntoo Apr 5 '11 at 6:08
"Seldom" is a perfectly normal part of my (BrE) vocabulary. "Seldomly" is not. –  Colin Fine Apr 5 '11 at 9:43
I'm a native British English speaker and initially the OP's example didn't sound odd to me, but I agree that seldom in his example would have sounded equally acceptable. One could use rarely instead of seldomly if thought preferable. –  TrevorD May 16 '13 at 11:44
@Mitch: To be clear, although I do agree with the general consensus on the correct usage of the word seldomly within this discussion, I find it a little strange that you claim that the use of seldom would sound weird "even in the highest, educated registers". I am in academia (split time between two prestigious universities in North America) and would not hesitate to use seldom. I am not the kind of person who feels the need to throw around 18th century vocab and eloquent sentence structure to describe the aroma of the leftovers in the lunch-room microwave in order to sound educated. –  user65603 Feb 12 at 11:15

4 Answers 4

up vote 26 down vote accepted

Contrary to your (very reasonable) gut feeling, seldom is an adverb, even though it doesn't end in -ly.

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And thus, that particular word is seldom used. –  thursdaysgeek Apr 4 '11 at 22:12
Wow. It surely sounds strange... is seldom used. ;) But thanks for clearing this up for me. I guess I'll have to obey to those underlined corrections... ;) –  Robert Koritnik Apr 4 '11 at 22:20
@Robert: well, they also list "irregardless" as valid, which seems wrong to me. –  André Paramés Apr 5 '11 at 1:52
irregardless should indeed be wrong. A construct seemingly made by mistakenly combining 'irrespective' and 'regardless'. Similarly, you might hear disjustice (injustice / disservice). –  Karl Apr 5 '11 at 3:12
@Karl: Even my feeling for English language tells me that irregardless is wrong. To me it sounds like a twice negated word which would actually mean regarding in the end. –  Robert Koritnik Apr 6 '11 at 8:16

Teachers will tell you to use seldom, which is an adverb already so doesn't need -ly. But Google Books will tell you people have been using seldomly since the eighteenth century and still use it today — though considerably less than seldom.

So the best advice (in my opinion) is to use seldom. But seldomly is not wrong.

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Depends on your definition of "wrong"... but I get your point. –  Cerberus Apr 4 '11 at 22:27
+1: Thanks for that. I knew I've seen -ly being used before (and not by me). This explains lots. –  Robert Koritnik Apr 4 '11 at 22:29
As I understood this answer it's probably grammatically wrong but not colloquially wrong... –  Robert Koritnik Apr 4 '11 at 22:32
Yes, wrong in terms of 'proper' English (whatever that is these days) but probably acceptable by most. Still, more and more mistakes are becoming 'acceptable so it is definitely best avoided. Go with 'seldom'. –  Karl Apr 5 '11 at 3:14

As already pointed out, the word "seldom" is mainly an adverb, even though it can be used as an adjective in some cases. And although "seldom" may be seldom in every day language, "seldomly" occurs even more seldom.

This stands in contrast to the word "often", which in relation to "seldom" is used very often.

Note that both "seldom" and "often" are adverbs, but that none of them ends in "-ly" which adverbs almost always do otherwise.

enter image description here

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I hate gifs. They're fun for about 0.50 seconds then they are dull, irritating and eventually nauseating. Is there a way to convert a gif in jpg format? –  Mari-Lou A Feb 13 at 9:39
@Mari-Lou A: Sure there is. You can open the image in MS Paint and resave it as a jpg image, or as a png. –  HelloGoodbye Feb 13 at 12:46
thank you. It was easy enough. –  Mari-Lou A Feb 14 at 19:43

In all honesty,the word 'seldomly' is not acceptable in contemporary British English.Attaching the suffix -ly to 'seldom' to create an adverb,in my scholarly opinion,constitutes a redundancy of the highest order,simply because 'seldom' is already an adverb.

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