direct(a) happening or done without involving other people, actions, etc. in between and we can form it into an adverb "directly"

Ex: look directly into his eyes

but "directly" is also an adverb

direct(adv): without involving other people

are "Look directly into his eyes" and "Look direct into his eyes" the same?

I would think "Look direct into his eyes" is not common or strange but I am not sure although you can see 800 results when googling "Look direct into his eyes"

  • In "Look directly into his eyes.", directly is describing the act of looking (as an adverb modifying a verb). In "Look direct into his eyes", direct describes a line of sight into his eyes. As such, it modifies like an adjective.
    – user3169
    Mar 7, 2017 at 3:29
  • Adding some actual examples using "direct" would be helpful.
    – user3169
    Mar 7, 2017 at 3:30
  • "direct" could mean the same as "directly" if it's a flat adverb. But the question of what can be a flat adverb is not an exact science, sometimes it even feels ambiguous since there's no agreement among grammarians, and dialect and habit also influences the usage of these words.
    – Korvin
    Mar 7, 2017 at 7:00

2 Answers 2


Not everybody knows the difference between an adverb and an adjective. For some words like fast, everybody agrees that the same word works as both adjective or adverb- it's called a flat adverb. For other words, the distinction is not so clear. In informal American English, many more words are used as flat adverbs:

I'm doing really well. - formal AmE, all BrE
I'm doing real good. - informal AmE

According to this definition of direct, the adjectival meaning would have an appropriate meaning in this context but the adverbal meaning would not: the adverb directly has the appropriate meaning.

direct into his eyes is therefore using an adjective where an adverb should be used. This NGram shows that the adverbal form is quite common but finds no instances of the adjectival form.

  • You completely forgot about flat adverbs. "real" is one of them in your example. In fact there's no definite list of flat adverbs (not even grammarians can agree on one) , today it's a question of dialect and habit.
    – Korvin
    Mar 7, 2017 at 6:52
  • @Korvin: point taken, I have updated my answer.
    – JavaLatte
    Mar 7, 2017 at 10:08

Patrick took Jane by the elbows and looked directly into her eyes.

When you look straight at someone/something or into someone's eyes, you usually use the adverb directly. It's not common to use the "direct" in this sense, though it can also be used as an adverb.

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