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I grew up in Malaysia and Singapore, and it's taken me a long time to dissect my vocabulary into "local slang, incomprehensible/incorrect elsewhere" and "proper English".

'Purposely' is one of those words that's just felt wrong to me for a while. It's an adverb of the + 'ly' form, except that "purpose" isn't an adjective. However, I've seen the word used so often on the Internet I can't help but feel that it's not just us South-East Asians doing it.

Is "purposely" grammatically correct? If so, in what context? If not, what is an appropriate substitute, and why is it so common?

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closed as general reference by Kris, Mr. Shiny and New 安宇, MετάEd, ghoppe, tchrist Nov 6 '12 at 16:26

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
"...just felt wrong to me...": whenever that happens, check out -- online as well as print -- for every available resource on definition and usage. Include what you found, to make the question more substantial and authentic. (If you still have the question nagging at you, that is.) For now, you may check these out: google.com/search?q=define+purposely –  Kris Nov 6 '12 at 11:07
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Small note: the word "purposely" is sometimes confused with "purposefully". See grammarist.com/usage/purposely-purposefully for an explanation of the distinction. –  D Coetzee Nov 6 '12 at 11:24
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+1 for grammatical sensitivity, even though you're (in this case) wrong. It always bothered me, too. One of those wrinkles that the schoolmarms forgot to iron out. –  StoneyB Nov 6 '12 at 11:52
    
I voted to close because it appears that this question can be answered by checking a dictionary. @Key, if a dictionary doesn't answer your question, you should indicate which dictionary you consulted and why that doesn't satisfy you. –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Nov 6 '12 at 13:29
    
@Derrick Coetzee: Your link does an excellent job of defining the difference. In fact, I don't know why the question has been closed, since none of the answers given here come close, and some of them could actually end up giving you completely the wrong impression if you didn't already know exactly what that difference is. –  FumbleFingers Nov 6 '12 at 21:52

3 Answers 3

Purposely has been used in English for over 500 years to mean both ‘0n purpose, by design; intentionally, deliberately’ and ‘with the particular purpose specified’. You may use it without fear of censure.

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Yes, it's a real word and grammatically correct. Here's a Merriam-Webster definition an example of how it's correctly used:

Definition of PURPOSELY adverb

: with a deliberate or express purpose

"the real estate agent purposely withheld information that would have discouraged us from buying the property"

This kind of question can easily be answered by checking a standard collegiate dictionary or an online dictionary.

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It's an adverb and there's nothing wrong with it. Here is what NOAD has to say:

purposely |ˈpərpəslē|
adverb
on purpose; intentionally: she had purposely made it difficult.
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