While watching American movies and TV series, I notice that in dialogue very often the usage of a proper adverb is replaced by the corresponding adjective (in the case where the adverb is formed by the suffix "-ly"). I don't have lots of examples, but one would be to say

You came across very strong.

instead of "strongly".

Thanks to Anthony's answer, here's another example:

I'm gonna go to the store real quick.

Is this a general tendency in current spoken American English?

I believe this is not the same as this question, where in the same word context both an adjective or an adverb can be appropriate. In my example sentence, it is clearly about a property of the action (adverb) and not about the person performing the action (adjective).

  • Maybe even in written language? See the title of bizjournals.com/dayton/stories/2006/03/20/smallb3.html
    – A. Donda
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 17:05
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    You've got it wrong. Or you've wrongly understood the way adverbs and adjectives can be used. Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 17:20
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    Americans use adjectives sometimes for adverbs in spoken/written English where Brits wouldn't, but there are rules about when we can do it. One would never say "to go bold where no man has gone before". (One of the rules is that only proper adverbs can split infinitives.) Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 17:41
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    @PeterShor, except of course if one is talking about typography. ;-) Thanks.
    – A. Donda
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 17:42
  • ... and experimental support for that rule from Google Ngrams. Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 17:55

1 Answer 1


In that case "strong" makes sense to me because there's an implied "as":

You came across (as) very strong.

If you think about it, it could make sense to say

You came across very strongly as weak.

although it would be bizarre.

But to answer your question more generally, well, not really, except in extremely informal conversations. For example, "I'm gonna go to the store real quick," sounds normal to me (I'm American) but not "But to answer your question more general, well, not real, except in extreme informal conversations."

EDIT: I think these examples just happen to be informal colloquialisms. To me, going to the store "real quick" means something different than "really quickly". If someone said he was going to the store "real quick" I would take that to mean that he wasn't going to dally. On the other hand, if he said he was going "really quickly" I would picture him literally running there.

  • Thanks, but in "You came across (as) very strong.", "strong" is an attribute of the person and therefore an adjective. If you look at the article I linked to in the comments (granted, not spoken but written) you'll see that there the distinction is exactly between the person and the behavior (the "coming across"), and still in the latter case the adjective and not the adverb form is used.
    – A. Donda
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 17:25
  • "I'm gonna go to the store real quick" is an example of what I mean, thanks.
    – A. Donda
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 17:27
  • That's a tough one. To "come on strong" in a relationship is a bit of a colloquialism with a very specific meaning, though "come on strongly" works just as well (and obviously is grammatically correct). I wouldn't take that phrase to be indicative of American speech in general, plus I'm pretty sure other English speaking countries also say "come on strong."
    – Anthony
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 17:35

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