My coworkers use "timely" in a way that I am unaccustomed to and it strikes me as odd (wrong).

An example: "we need to get those reports timely".

As I've always understood it, the correct form of the sentence would be "we need to get those reports in a timely fashion". But they are essentially it as a substitute for "quickly".

Is it correct grammar to use the word as they are?


I work in the Seattle area, in tech. Tech is integrated somewhat heavily with west Asian culture (Indian, Pakistani) and therefore some the misapplication of English is adopted unconsciously by native American English speakers.

It strikes me as odd because it sounds clunky. Look at all of these applications, where it seems "good": https://www.wordhippo.com/what-is/sentences-with-the-word/timely.html.

It seems to me that "Make sure the reporting is timely", or "We need that reporting in a timely fashion" is good vs "We need that reporting timely" is not good.

  • It's fairly common abbreviated style. Not strictly grammatical, but the sort of thing that folks do in informal speech.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 22:21
  • I haven't ever heard this, but it's understandable. How do you turn an adjective that ends in "ly" into an adverb? Usually it requires rephrasing, but that's apparently undesirable to some.
    – Juhasz
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 22:24
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    Where do you work? Where do these folks come from? Are these actually native speakers?
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 22:27
  • 1
    Yes, in the corporate world, we don't call, we reach out. If we left a message, I have a call into him. If we suggesting returning to a certain point, we circle back. Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 22:55
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Adverbial form of "timely" Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 23:25

2 Answers 2


It strikes one as odd because timely is an adjective, and in OP's example the word to express how the reports are needed is expected to be an adverb. The mind (and the lexicon so far as I have been able to determine) recoil at the construction which might be formed by the usual practice of tacking -ly onto an adjective to make an adverb. Good grief, we'd end up with a word like timelily.

No matter, from north of the border I bring you tidings of the adjective timeous which OED declares to be

Originally Scottish. Now chiefly Scottish, Irish English (northern), South African, East African, and West African. A. adj. Categories »

  1. Done or occurring sufficiently early or in good time; prompt; (Law) done before a fixed time limit has expired. Cf. timely adj. 1c.

... even better timeous comes with the adverb timeously. Stick that to your coworkers.

  • I blew their minds with "conflate". The bar is low.
    – n8.
    Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 18:11

"Timely" is clearly misused in the example. (I just read a quotation from US postmaster Louis DeJoy in which he said, "Send us your packages and mail and we will deliver timely"; clearly wrong). Not only is this usage incorrect, it grates on the ear of any true student of our language. Just because you see this error frequently doesn't make it OK. There are plenty of options that are just as brief as the misused "timely." "Soon" and "promptly" are two. The English language is constantly being eroded from all corners because, as has been noted by others, it's one of the world's easiest languages to learn badly, and one of the hardest to learn well. Somewhere, somehow, standards must be maintained, or English won't be English at all much longer, but a kind of pidgin tongue breeding vast confusion rather than clarity of communication. Therefore, those of us in the know shouldn't defend this sort of mangling just because it seems convenient.

  • 1
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    – Community Bot
    Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 10:30
  • Hi Stephen, this is not the place for opining. And in as much as you're addressing the question here, that's already been covered by the existing answer.
    – Joachim
    Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 15:19
  • This does not provide an answer to the question. Once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post; instead, provide answers that don't require clarification from the asker. - From Review
    – Joachim
    Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 15:19

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