May 5th, 2015


Question: Why is it "sleep tight" and not "sleep tightly"?

Today’s question is why we say “sleep tight” and not “sleep tightly.” After all, “sleep” is a verb, so shouldn’t we use the adverb form “tightly”?

Readers of a certain age might remember a similar issue with Apple’s “Think Different” advertising campaign in the 1990s, which had thousands of people crying, “No, think differently!” More recently, singer and grammar nerd “Weird Al” Yankovic has been seen changing a road sign from “Caution Drive Slow” to “Caution Drive Slowly.”

The good news is that there are readers who recognize that an action verb (like sleep or think or drive) should be modified by an adverb, not an adjective. The bad news for people trying to use correct grammar is that there are times when what looks like an adjective actually is an adverb, called a “plain” or “flat” adverb.

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