The following sentence seems incorrect to me, because the adjective timely is being used as an adverb:

Payments not received timely will be returned and additional interest will be due.

That said, does timely even have an adverbial form? Timelyly?

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    I don't think there's an adverbial form based on time - we use the word promptly. – FumbleFingers Jan 22 '13 at 18:15
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    "Does timely even have an adverbial form? Timelyly?" Well ... it does now ... – MetaEd Jan 22 '13 at 18:16
  • Related: english.stackexchange.com/q/18635/8019 ( in timely fashion) – Tim Lymington Jan 22 '13 at 23:37
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    My spelling teacher would probably have said timely becomes timelily. Just as happy becomes happily and so on. – GEdgar Jan 25 '13 at 21:21
  • @GEdgar of course. Thanks for the clarification (that should have been obvious). I think we've collectively created a new adverb – Eric Nelson Jan 26 '13 at 2:43

On time is surely the adverbial phrase that would be used in most cases. John Lawler would doubtless say that striving for a single related adverb (central though this usage would be in this case) is not a wise use of time.

  • I was pleasantly impressed to read all the great suggestions—promptly, timeously, punctually; even the original timely. But I think this one best captures the notion of a strict deadline for those payments. Thanks everyone. – Eric Nelson Jan 23 '13 at 1:29

You could use "timeously". The word is often used in formal documents in Scotland, but is obscure in the rest of the Anglosphere.

  • It takes four syllables to say this, right? – Eric Nelson Jan 23 '13 at 1:22
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    @EricNelson: Yes, four syllables. But it takes six to say "in a timely manner" by my count. – donothingsuccessfully Jan 23 '13 at 8:11
  • @EricNelson Actually it's three syllables. It's not that obscure, I've read it and heard it here in Australia. – Gaston Ümlaut Oct 30 '13 at 21:48

You can use timely as an adverb to mean "in time", though this is not so common.


I'd suggest:

Payments not received punctually will be returned...

  • Payments not received on time... – GEdgar Jan 25 '13 at 21:22

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