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Yes or no: 'slow' as an adverb?

12 replies

strawberry · 01/03/2008 09:07

Is the use of 'slow' as an adverb now acceptable? Although we might say 'go slow' surely in written English it should be 'slowly'?
In Ds's homework assignment it said, 'Don't go slow.' AIBU to get my red pen out?

OP posts:
NotQuiteCockney · 01/03/2008 09:09

Slow is not an adverb. No way.

AnnainNZ · 01/03/2008 09:11


Was taught that an adverb always ends in "ly".

May be wrong on this, but "go slow" sounds wrong to me.

ChipButty · 01/03/2008 09:12

No. Slowly is the adverb. Slow is the adjective.

LoveAndSqualor · 01/03/2008 09:12

I think it always has been, just much less commonly used that way. For example, in The Lake of Innisfree by WB Yeats:

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings ...

I'd say it's working as an adverb there. Archaic rather than new I reckon. In the context of 'don't go slow', though, 'slowly' would be much more regular!

strawberry · 01/03/2008 09:13

Oh good - votes for red pen! The OED is rather ambiguous on this and refers to 'go slow' as an expression which to me suggests common verbal use but not for written English.

OP posts:
Hassled · 01/03/2008 09:14

If it were "Don't walk slow" that would be very wrong. The problem with correcting "Don't go slow" is that while it's grammatically incorrect, the "go slow" bit has become common usage in which case it might be sort of OK? Really I have no idea .

ChipButty · 01/03/2008 09:15

Artistic licence for Yeats perhaps? I'll let him off - he probably made the decision to use 'slow' knowing that 'slowly' was correct.

LoveAndSqualor · 01/03/2008 09:16

'go slow' is definitely an expression - but it has quite a specific meaning, generally work-related (a workforce can be 'on a go-slow' - minor industrial action)

Editor on first day of maternity leave, and this is the first MN thread I see!

strawberry · 01/03/2008 09:17

Can't wait for parents' evening next week!

OP posts:
LoveAndSqualor · 01/03/2008 09:19

ChipButty, think you're right - he's using language poetically. But it can be ok to use it as an adverb ... here's what has to say:

As an adverb, slow has two forms, slow and slowly. Slowly appeared first in the 15th century; slow came into use shortly thereafter. Both are standard today in certain uses.

Originally, slow was used both preceding and following the verb it modified. Today, it is used chiefly in imperative constructions with short verbs of motion (drive, run, turn, walk, etc.), and it follows the verb: Drive slow. Don't walk so slow. This use is more common in speech than in writing, although it occurs widely on traffic and road signs. Slow also combines with present participles in forming adjectives: slow-burning; slow-moving. In this use it is standard in all varieties of speech and writing.

Slowly is by far the more common form of the adverb in writing. In both speech and writing it is the usual form in preverb position (He slowly drove down the street. The couple slowly strolled into the park) and following verbs that are not imperatives (He drove slowly down the street. The couple strolled slowly through the park). See also quick, sure.

Tickle · 01/03/2008 09:28

'Go slow, don't walk so slow' - sounds more American to me, where all sorts of letters are chopped out as often as possible!

eleusis · 04/03/2008 15:32

My American view is that the adverb ends in -ly.

I remember as a juvenile pedants, my brother and I used to make fun of the sign that said "Slow children at play". Yeah, the smart children don'tplay here.

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