See this problem:

  1. How about the ship then?

  2. It sailed back _____.

A. safe

B. safely

C. safety

The answer is A. Although it's understandable, I still wondered why B isn't the answer?

  • 2
    Who says that the answer is A? Jul 16, 2022 at 7:06

2 Answers 2


In my opinion, B is a much better answer.

It's true that we can say He came back safe and sound (he was safe and well when he arrived), but sailed refers to the ship's journey, not just its arrival, so an adverb seems more appropriate.

  • 1
    Yes, Google ngrams for he sailed back safe, he came back safe, he sailed back safely, sailed back safe, sailed back safely flatline for all but he came back safe. While the depictive (adjective) usage is arguably not ungrammatical, it seems unidiomatic in this case (with sailed). Jul 16, 2022 at 10:32

It sailed back safe.

= the ship sailed back and the ship was safe. (It is quite possible that the ship was badly damaged and the journey was far from safe. It was only when it arrived that the ship and crew could be said to be safe.)

It sailed back safely.

= the ship sailed back in a safe manner. This implies that all due caution was observed.


He arrived drunk - he arrived and he was drunk.

He arrived drunkenly - he arrived in a manner that suggested he had been drinking, although he could have been ill, dizzy, etc.

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