Friday, October 28, 2011

James Branch Cabell could tell you

I don't know if this is now considered obsolete usage, or if it's just one of those things where so many people kept getting it wrong that everyone now thinks it's right.  I hear this usage on the radio often and it always bugs me.

"He strolled down the street in a leisurely manner."

"He strolled down the street leisurely."

The first is correct.  The second is not.  It should be, "He strolled down the street leisurelily."  Whenever I hear someone speak this way, it makes me wince as if I'd heard a flat note in a song.

If anyone wants to correct me on this, you better be a super hard-core English nerd with some serious academic credentials if you expect to change my mind.


  1. I do believe both of your examples are just fine as written. "Leisurely" is both an adjective and an adverb (without an additional -ly, though there is certainly room for a colloquial version.

    MA, English, emphasis in Creative Writing, but I'm really not a stickler for grammar rules. So many of the so-called "rules" that people get worked up about are really not rules that apply to English at all, and English is such a flexible and protean language that we see new usages creep up all the time. And I think that's perfectly fine.

    I am pretty much a stickler for punctuation, though. Drive as fast as you like on the open highway, but keep it between the lines.

  2. Damn, I didn't know anyone still read Cabell these days, especially among you young people.