'That Works Out Great' or 'That Works Out Well'?

Ned in Albany had a question about the phrase, used in this column, “that works out great.” He asked, “Isn’t ‘great’ an adjective and what’s it modifying here? Shouldn’t it be ‘well’ in uncorrupted English?”

Well, no. Adverbs are subtler beasts than most of us are taught. We tend to think of them offshoots of adjectives. “Quick” is an adjective whose job is to modify a noun. “Quickly” is its adverb equivalent and its job is to modify verbs.

Often, that works like a formula. Add “ly” to an adjective and you have an adverb. But not always. If you’re fast at typing, you don’t type fastly. If you’re right about how to cut a pineapple, you don’t cut it rightly. If you wear ugly clothes, you don’t dress uglyly.

Here's my recent column about mastering the complexities of adverbs.

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