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'I moved closer.'

At face value, 'closer' seems to be acting like an adjective; however, I don't see anything in the sentence to which it can refer. A friend suggested that 'to move closer', 'to move further', and friends are a family of phrasal verbs, but this seems like a cop out to me.

I think the most likely answer is that 'closer' is functioning as a comparative adverb. A very common error in colloquial English is to use an adjective in place of the adverbial form ('I am doing good' instead of 'I am doing well'). Correcting for this error yields 'I moved more closely'. Admittedly, this sounds awkward, but I think that has more to do with the uncommon phrasing than the technical integrity of the expression.

Is there something I am missing here?

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  • Yes. I moved closer (to the place I mentioned earlier)
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 15:03
  • You're right; I moved more closely to the place I mentioned earlier doesn't sound awkward at all. Adding a comparator makes all the difference! Commented May 18, 2015 at 15:18
  • I think what's meant is more close rather than more closely. Both would be adverbs, though.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 15:21
  • Could it be a case of a flat adverb? At M-W seem to like those: youtube.com/watch?v=7epnfcHy5SA
    – Lucky
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 15:37
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    I don't find any of the answers I see here very persuasive. Maybe it's a "flat adverb", but does that make it an adverb? Why count it as an adverb at all? Why not an adjective that describes the result of some action? "I moved the candles close." then, "The candles were close." (Surely not *"The candles were closely.")
    – Greg Lee
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 16:44

2 Answers 2

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Closer in this sentence is the comparative of the adverb close.

close (adv.)

at or to a short distance or time away

[M-W]

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I believe 'closer' ad used is an adverb but not of manner, as suggested by 'closely,' but an adverb of place. Consider that the word is adding information to the verb 'moved' regarding location.

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