I just answered a battery of test questions, and posted the following comment:

"I got them all correctly."

Should I have said "I got them all correct."?

  • No, all the answers were correct, not correctly. You get something right, not rightly. You would only say "I got them all correctly" if you were concerned about the manner in which the questions were answered, not the result of your responses. – Robusto Mar 10 '15 at 14:25
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    Consider 'The examiner marked them all correct' (100/100; Well done, candidate) versus 'The examiner marked them all correctly (perhaps 35/100; Not so good, candidate, but well done, examiner). – Edwin Ashworth Mar 10 '15 at 14:37
  • I added some tags to your question , and put the example sentence in the title. If you want to roll back the edit's, you can do this using the edit button under your question. If you'd like my name to disappear from under your post, just do an edit and fiddle around with a full stop, and my name will disappear! :-) – Araucaria - Not here any more. Mar 10 '15 at 15:59
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    Compare "Let me make this easy/easily for you." – Greg Lee Mar 10 '15 at 16:09
  • But you could have answered them all correctly. – WS2 Mar 10 '15 at 18:56
  1. *I got them all correctly. (ungrammatical)

  2. I got them all correct.

I'm assuming here that the Original Poster means that his answers to the question were correct (sentence (1) would be grammatical if the meaning was entirely different). In order to understand why we need to use correct here, and why correctly is wrong, we need to understand the structure of the sentence.

The sentence can be broken down like this:

  • Subject: I
  • Verb (Predicator): got
  • Direct Object: them all
  • Predicative Complement: correct

In this type of construction the verb GET takes two complements. The first is a Direct Object, the second is a Predicative Complement.

A Direct Object describes the recipient of some sort of action. It tells us the "patient" in the agent/patient relationship. In this sentence I is the agent, the actor, and them is the patient.

A Predicative Complement, on the other hand, is a complement of the verb that tells us something about the Subject or Object. It describes some attribute. In the following sentence happy is a Predicative Complement that describes the Object, Mary:

  • The flowers made Mary happy.

At the end of the process Mary was happy. Notice that we use an adjective there. We cannot use adverbs as Predicative Complements:

  • *Mary was happily. (ungrammatical)
  • *The flowers made Mary happily. (ungrammatical)
  • *Mary seemed happily. (ungrammatical)

We can often use adjectives and nouns as Predicative Complements, sometimes we can even use clauses, but never adverbs. In the type of construction used by the Original Poster, the Predicative Complement describes the Direct Object of the verb. This Predicative complement needs to be an adjective, not an adverb:

  • He got them correct.
  • He got them wrong.
  • *He got them correctly. (ungrammatical - or means something different)
  • *He got them wrongly. (ungrammatical - or means something different)

Notice that the last two examples there could be correct if the sentence means something different.These sentences would mean that he obtained or did something in the correct way or in the wrong way - not that the things themselves were correct or wrong.

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  • 4
    As you note, "He got them all correctly" is grammatical when it "means something different." If he was in a butterfly catching contest which had a special rule requiring you to have your right hand in your pocket whenever you catch one, if he did follow the rule when he caught each one of his butterflies, then you could say "he got them all correctly". – Greg Lee Mar 10 '15 at 16:17

If you are talking about your success rate:

I answered them all correctly.
I got them all correct.

If you are talking about a successful transmission receipt:

I received them all correctly.
I got them all correctly.

It is because of the malleable nature of the meaning of the verb to get that both of these sentences are grammatically correct. Which one is the correct one for you to use would depend on your context.

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