Drive safe or Drive safely???

Discussion in 'English Only' started by ClimbEveryMountain, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. ClimbEveryMountain

    ClimbEveryMountain Senior Member

    Murray, KY
    If I wanted to give advise to somebody who's about to hit the road, which one should I say?

    I'm a bit confused about the use of the adverb or the adjective.

  2. Dlyons

    Dlyons Senior Member

    English - Ireland
    "Drive safely" is correct - but I think you'll hear "Drive safe" very often in conversation, even though it's theoretically wrong.
  3. Dario de Kansas

    Dario de Kansas Senior Member

    Kansas, USA
    American English
    I agree with Dlyons.
  4. ClimbEveryMountain

    ClimbEveryMountain Senior Member

    Murray, KY
    Thanks a lot, Dlyons. I knew that I'd heard that expression before, but when I wrote it, something in my brain sent me a warning that it might be wrong.
  5. koniecswiata Senior Member

    Am English
    I think that in spoken, conversational English "safe" in the collocation "drive safe" is being used as an adverb. It could follow the paradigm of "drive fast"--fast being a case of adverb sounding and looking the same as the adjective.
  6. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    The adverb 'safe' has been in common use for many centuries. It is standard English. It is one of many common adverbs identical in form to a corresponding adjective, which all of us use all the time (stand tall, fall short, aim high, go direct, run deep, travel light, arrive safe). There might or might not be subtle differences between the uses of the plain adverb and the derived -ly adverb.
  7. Dlyons

    Dlyons Senior Member

    English - Ireland
    I agreee with what you are saying. But, as a first approximation for a non-native speaker, it seemed safer to flag the non-standard use of an adjective where an adverb would normally be required.
  8. Dlyons

    Dlyons Senior Member

    English - Ireland
    The OED gives "safe" solely as an adjective. I'm curious about your source for its adverbial use - certainly it's used that way at times in ordinary speech, but I wonder what a Grammarian would say?
  9. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I would flinch if I heard "Drive safe."
    It occurs, but most often I would hear "Drive safely."
  10. wonderwhy Banned

    English - NaE
    People using language, Dlyons, exactly as it has always been. Dictionaries merely catalog the speech we invent, exactly as it has always been.

    I'm pretty sure that never in history has a dictionary coined a word, which people then adopted. Such an idea is pretty silly. People coin new words daily. I remember an ad/blurb on the cover of an AHD dictionary - "first major revision in ten years - x thousand new words".
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
  11. LaVache Senior Member

    English- American
    Drive safely
  12. AlabamaBoy

    AlabamaBoy Senior Member

    Alabama, USA
    American English
    "Arrive safe" does not qualify as an adverb in my book. It can be interpreted as "arrive (so that you are) safe." Drive can not be interpreted in ths way.

    It has long been argued and taught that many of these verbs may take a predicate adjective rather than an adverb. Verbs in this category include:

    stand, fall (when meaning the opposite of stand), grow, smell, seem, be, become, sound, look, feel, arrive (when it means something similar to become)

    (Notice that "feel badly" is incorrect; you should actually use "feel bad.")

    I don't know if this is strictly true, but this is what was taught in university English classes when I attended. Maybe our view of these idiosyncrasies has changed to now call the words "adverbs" when used with these verbs.

    Therefore: Drive safely.
  13. Adam Cruge Banned

    India & Bengali
    This is the most clearer explanation of the uses like: shining bright, standing tall, feeling bad etc.
    So why not 'driving safe' ?
    There is no question about the correctness of "driving safely", it is drop dead correct. But "drive safe" may occur.
  14. AlabamaBoy

    AlabamaBoy Senior Member

    Alabama, USA
    American English
    If "drive safe" is used often enough to become accepted as correct, then we will make a special grammar rule to cover it. Until then, it is not regarded as completely correct. But you could probably use it safely in most casual conversation or writing.

    I don't think drop dead correct is grammatically sound, either. I think we should treat that in your "drop dead" thread.
  15. it's me here Junior Member

    Is it possble that "dirve safe" suits a situation where a kindly warning is uttered while "drive safely" is used for a description?
  16. koniecswiata Senior Member

    Am English
    I think we have to distinguish between Standard (Written?) English and conversational non-standard English. Conversational English rarely is completely 100% standard. Therefore, if "drive safe" is not acceptable in Standard Written English, it certainly is acceptable to many native speakers in spoken contexts. Precisely in the area of spoken English you will find disagreement among native speakers as to what is or isn't correct. It all depends on dialect, register, idiolect, etc...
    The same could be said for "arrive safe"--many people would say "X arrived happy" but probably not too many would say "X arrived happily"--it would seem to require an adjective since the state of the person is being modified not the action itself--at least in that kind of spoken conversational English
  17. Adam Cruge Banned

    India & Bengali
    But in comparison to it I want to mention the fact that it is grammatically correct and of course standard English to write "shine bright" as in "The sun is shining bright." (the sentence is from an English usage book, I forgot the name of the book, written by A.S.Hornby).
    So how would you come to any conclusion?
  18. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    The red herring is shining bright, also. Bright is both an adjective and an adverb.
    Whether the grammarians and experts and anti-grammarians and anti-experts prefer
    bright or brightly according to context, register, etc., there is no argument about bright having an adverbial form.

    Drive safely!
  19. Adam Cruge Banned

    India & Bengali
    Oh you are right 'bright' is both an adjective and adverb. But what about "stand tall" ?
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
  20. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    What about addressing the thread topic question? If "stand tall", whatever it may be in terms of adverbs, is supposed to govern the use of safely or safe, please explain why and how.

    Drive safe! We know a few things about this expression:

    1) Some native speakers use it.
    2) It is not standard English unless and until somebody can prove it is by
    doing something beyond shouting.
    3) It is clearly understood by most, if not all, native speakers to mean exactly the same thing as "Drive safely".
    4) No participant in this thread has yet presented a dictionary citation calling safe an adverb, though clearly it functions as an adverb in "Drive safe".
    5) The arguments over classification of the expression as "correct" or "incorrect" are...

    (Trying to think of a cordial, polite way to say that the question is a total waste of time. Much of the spoken English language is not "correct", but I would hate to have to listen to machines talking. They might never utter such colorful expressions as "How do you like them Red Sox!" or "Holy shit!", both of which seem to suffer grammatical flaws while enriching the language.)
  21. Adam Cruge Banned

    India & Bengali
    I was looking for the word 'safe' in Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary and found it:



    chiefly US informal : in a safe way ▪ Be sure to drive safe. [=safely]
  22. Rushi

    Rushi Junior Member

    I was watching a movie the other day. This lady said to another lady, "walk safe".

    Trying to be creative with this "safe" word, I wished my friend at the airport, "Fly safe". :)
  23. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 73)
    UK English
    The OED talks about safe being used "with adverbial force".
    All this means is that it serves no useful purpose to attempt to prove that expressions such as sleep tight, go slow etc. are adverbial or adjectival.
    This misses the point and has nothing to do with learning English.

    What is relevant is that similar expressions have long been used in the language, as has been pointed out above in #6.
    Some people (and some regions) prefer one word or the other. A case can also be made for saying that drive safe means something different to drive safely. Who is to say what is in the mind of someone who utters this phrase?
  24. pickarooney

    pickarooney Senior Member

    Provence, France
    English (Ireland)
    The difference there is that your friend is not actually flying the plane so your wish for her to be safe on the flight is not a suggestion as it would be to someone about to take the wheel.

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