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Whither the Adverb

Posted on by Rachelle Mandik

I was born in 1976 and was raised on The Electric Company and Schoolhouse Rock. Both of these programs were essential to my becoming a copyeditor, now that I look back at them. They made learning fun, obviously, but the lessons they imparted were hard to forget. The Schoolhouse Rock song "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly" and "The Ly Song" have been running through my head with every manuscript I work on lately. You know, these: 

So why these songs? Because it seems like more and more authors never learned about adverbs. Not just that they write things like "Go slow." That one's been around long enough that it sounds natural. 

But what sounds utterly unnatural is something like "Definite I want to go with you." Or "You probable know the person I'm talking about."

Or there's the variation where an adverb gets co-opted into a chimera of a hyphenated adjectival phrase. There's a food book I'm working on where these are rampant: "melting-sweet," "local-made."

These examples are not exaggerations. And neither are they the quirks of just one author. These grammatical goof-ups are seemingly everywhere. It's gotten to the point where I'm wondering if it's a thing now. A trend. A shift. 

Has anyone else out there noticed the lack of love for words that end in -ly? Many of them actually make it into print. Does it jar you? Do you ever find yourself avoiding adverbs? If so, why? 

Someone please help me understand this! Because I'm taking it poorly