-Ly, -ly, -ly, -ly

By Mamie Webb Hixon
UWF Writing Lab Director

Singers tune up with the third tone of the diatonic scale: mi, mi, mi, mi.

At the beginning of a business week, I recommend that administrators, business executives, and office workers tune up—with _ly, -ly, -ly, -ly.

That way, their day will not run smooth. It will run smoothly.

Their well-organized office will not operate as efficient as possible. It will operate as efficiently as possible.

The staff will not read information careful. They will read it carefully.

The boss will treat all employees fairly, not fair.

And all personnel will not perform their tasks as quick as possible. They will perform their tasks as quickly as possible.

After all, these business execs and office workers are active. Therefore, their activeness, as expressed by the verbs run, operate, read, treat, perform, etc., should be described accurately with an adverb.

As the Grammar Rock song says, "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, get your adverbs here."


"Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here!"


In recognition of a company's seventy-fifth anniversary in the city, a sign is printed. On it will be printed the company's name, followed by the phrase "serving our community" and, in bold print, these three words:


Is the sign grammatically correct?


Road signs sprinkled liberally throughout Oklahoma read DRIVE FRIENDLY. Probably because the word friendly ends in -ly, someone thought that it belongs with words like safely, cautiously, and carefully. DRIVE CAREFULLY works, so why not DRIVE FRIENDLY?

Can you make a case for "Drive Friendly"?



Commonly Mispronounced Words
Compiled by Mamie Webb Hixon

advertise a-ver-tize Pronounce the d
ask ax Pronounced ass with a k
athletic ath-a-let-ic Only three syllables in this word
business bid-ness  No d in this word
corps corpse  Pronounced core
crotch crouch  Pronounced crotch
clout clot  Rhymes with about
clique cliché  Two different words
drowned drown-ded  Only one syllable
doctoral doc-to-ri-al  Only three syllables
diploma di-ploo-ma  No ooh in diploma
February Feb-i-a-ry  Pronounce both r's.
fiscal year physical year  Two different words
genuine gen-u-wine  No wine in this word
idea ideal  Two different words
Illinois Ill-i-noise  No noise in this state
incentive in-cen-i-tive  Only three syllables
irrelevant ir-reh-vuh-lant  The third syllable is luh
Italian Eye-tal-ian  No eye in this word
library li-berry  No berry in this word
mischievous mis-chee-vi-ous  Only three syllables
nuclear nu-ku-lar  Look at the letter arrangement
number nim-ber  No nim in this word
obstacle ob-stack-ul  No stack in ob-stih-kul
often of-tin  The t is silent as in listen
particularly par-ti-cu-lar-ly  No accent on the fourth syllable lar
recipient re-cip-ri-cant  Look at the spelling
realtor real-a-tor  Two syllables only
reiterate re-in-uh-rate  The second syllable is it
specific pacific  Two different words
pronunciation pro-noun-ci-a-tion  The second syllable is nun, not noun
recoup re-coo  Pronounced re-coop
stint stunt  Two separate words
salmon sal-mon  The l is silent
semicolon sem-I-colon  Don't emphasize the i
supposedly sup-po-sop-ly Pronounced sup-po-SED-ly
similar si-mu-lar  Pronounced si-MIH-lar
tentative ten-uh-tive  Pronounce all the t's


"Writing to Express, Not Impress!"

Anybody can sound impressive:

     Members of an avian species of identical plumage congregate.

     Abstention from any aleatory undertakings precludes potential escalation of any lucrative nature.

Phillip Broughton makes this point of using writing to impress very clear with his "Systematic Buzz-phrase Projector." To use it, randomly select any three-digit number from the list on the right — it's like playing Play 3 in the Florida Lottery.

Each number you select will produce a word from each column creating a tremendously impressive phrase. For instance, the number 330 produces "parallel reciprocal options," a phrase which may sound very impressive in a business report, but doesn't say anything. This kind of writing is writing to impress; however, professionals should write to express, not impress.

Your Turn:

0. Integrated 0. Management 0. Options
1. Total 1. Organizational 1. Flexibility
2. Systematized 2. Monitored 2. Capability
3. Parallel 3. Reciprocal 3. Mobility
4. Functional 4. Digital 4. Programming
5. Responsive 5. Logistical 5. Concept
6. Optional 6. Transitional 6. Time-phase
7. Synchronized 7. Incremental 7. Projection
8. Compatible 8. Third-generation 8. Hardware
9. Balanced 9. Policy 9. Contingency

Philip S. Broughton, "Criteria for the Evaluation of Printed Matter," American Journal of Public Health, 30 Sept. 1980, 1027-32.


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