Adverbs With Two Forms

In some cases, the adverb may have two forms, one like the adjective and the other with -ly. There is usually a difference of meaning or use. Some examples are given below.

Dead and Deadly

In certain expressions, the adverb dead is used to mean exactly, completely or very.

Examples are: dead certain, dead slow, dead right, dead drunk etc.

Deadly is an adjective. It means fatal, causing death. The adverb for this meaning is fatally.

Fine and Finely

The adverb fine means well.

The adverb finely is used to talk about small careful adjustments and similar ideas.

a finely tuned machine

Free and Freely

When used after a verb, the adverb free means without payment.

Freely means without limit or restriction.

Hard and Hardly

The adverb hard means heavily, severely or with difficulty.

Hardly means almost not.

Late and Lately

The adverb late has a similar meaning to the adjective late. Lately means a short time ago and recently.

Most and Mostly

Most is the superlative of much. It is used to form superlative adjectives and adverbs.

In a formal style, most can mean very.

This is a most (=very) interesting book.

Mostly means chiefly, generally or in most cases.

Real and Really

In informal American English, real is often used before adjectives and adverbs. It means the same as really.

Sure and Surely

In an informal style, sure is often used to mean certainly. This is common in American English.