REAL(LY) good (adv.)

Peter A. McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Fri Jul 26 18:01:36 UTC 2002

A related tangent:

All my life until a few years ago, I (and everyone else I knew) found it
quite natural to say "real good (bad, nice, cold, etc.)"  I was
peripherally aware that there were purists who thought everyone should say
"really good," maintaining that "real" was an adjective, not an adverb, and
never the twain should meet.  But no one I knew paid any attention.

In recent months it's occurred to me that I hardly ever say, or hear, "real
good" anymore.  I guess I use "really" if I use anything at all.  I can't
attribute this change (if it is one) to pressure from purists, since the
purists' argument in this case barely appeared on anyone's radar screen.
It seems to me that people generally use "really" a lot more than they used
to, in contexts where they wouldn't have used any intensifier in times
past.  Maybe the two phenomena are connected.

Has anyone else noticed this?

Peter Mc.

--On Friday, July 26, 2002 1:43 PM -0400 Mark A Mandel <mam at THEWORLD.COM>

> On Fri, 26 Jul 2002, Mai Kuha wrote:
> #Nice to see this feature making its way to more formal registers. This is
> #from a dissertation abstract:
> #
> #"(...) In the retelling of previously read stories the three groups
> #performed relatively good both at the micro- and the macrolinguistic
> level #of processing. (...)"
> Obviously a case of "your mileage may vary". My reaction is "ugh!"
> -- Mark A. Mandel

                               Peter A. McGraw
                   Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
                            pmcgraw at

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