I believe usage trumps authority when it comes to the rules of English. However, I also believe that errors are just errors.

I keep hearing "ly" being left off of words even in common idioms. Enough so that I'm starting to wonder if adverbs are out of style in the 2020s and I'm just too old.

Is "Don't take it personal" still the flagrant grammatical error I remember it being?

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    Have you checked in any dictionaries to see if they mention a flat adverbial usage? There are other threads here looking at flat adverbs and resultative/depictive constructions that look similar (eg 'the water froze solid'). But I'd certainly avoid this one; it's possibly considered more acceptable in the States than in the UK. Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 22:44
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    The doublethink in your first paragraph is truly impressive :)
    – AakashM
    Commented Nov 3, 2023 at 9:41
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    candied, slang is slang, informal is informal. You, and everyone else, is completely aware that "... personal" is just an informal version of the correct "... personally". What is it you're asking? I could immediately post 50, maybe 100 questions, or perhaps a better word is "thoughts", on here saying "I've noticed that A is now often casually spoken as B." Like, yes, you'll find 100s of people on this list who agree with you that the English-speaking world is becoming stunningly illiterate - ok, yes, agreed!
    – Fattie
    Commented Nov 3, 2023 at 11:48
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    '"How are you?" "I am good."' 'Am' is clearly a verb here, as is the possibly implicit 'doing' but it's weird to hear somebody say "I am [doing] well." I think people are just colloquially bad at grammar, personally.
    – user121330
    Commented Nov 3, 2023 at 17:08
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    This hits my ears like the U.S. regional "I'm telling you true."
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Nov 3, 2023 at 18:08

2 Answers 2


It depends on whether your definition of a flagrant grammatical error includes colloquial usage (since 1829!) as documented by, say, The Oxford English Dictionary:

colloquial. to take (something) personal: = to take (a thing) personally at personally adv. 3c.
Source: Oxford English Dictionary (login required)

Here are a few OED attested usages, including the earliest offered:

1829   Oh! if you'd call anybody a contemptible fool—I don't take it personal—I think I had better adjourn. —E. Fitzball, Flying Dutchman ii. iii. 31

1845   If my gun did not snap, call me a coward, and I won't take it personal. —T. B. Thorpe, Big Bear of Arkansas 27

1938   Lem's different. He takes things personal. —M. K. Rawlings, Yearling xvi. 186

You might be old, but probably not that old.

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    Yep, varmints who ain't got no book larning.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 3, 2023 at 16:48
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    @Lambie — “Many people have the notion that colloquial language is by its very nature inferior or incorrect; that when a word or phrase is dubbed ‘colloquial’ it is outlawed from respectable speech.... As a matter of sober fact, colloquial language at its best should be regarded as the standard or norm for most kinds of speaking, as well as for much writing.” —Walter Barnes, “Effective Colloquial Language,” The Virginia Teacher, 1932 Commented Nov 3, 2023 at 22:47
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    I don't know what respectable speech is. I was merely adding fuel to your fire, to use a metaphor inappropriately but that makes my point. I am not judging anyone's speech. The fact you think I am is what's so amusing...
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 4, 2023 at 14:16
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    @Lambie — Insinuating that the speakers of the dialog above are illiterate sure sounds like judgement to me. Commented Nov 4, 2023 at 17:10
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    No, I didn't say illiterate. I said uneducated or unschooled. Illiterate means unable to read or write your own language.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 4, 2023 at 17:23

As Huddleston & Pullum (2002) note, there are a number of adverbs that are "identical in form with adjectives" but are "restricted to informal style" or "clearly non-standard" (p. 567). One example they give is the use of real in "That's real nice of you"; in formal contexts, of course, really would be used instead, but real is quite common.

It seems reasonable to put the personal in "take it personal" in the same category, though it's more marginal and largely restricted to this specific idiom. Ngram suggests that, while still much less common than "take it personally," "take it personal" has increased in popularity over the past few decades in American English, though it remains exceedingly rare in British English. I suspect that Ngram may be underestimating the frequency of "take it personal," since this construction presumably occurs more often in informal speech than in written works.

  • I believe the use of "real" instead of "really" as an adverb is still much more common in the US than in the UK.
    – BobRodes
    Commented Nov 4, 2023 at 18:20

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