This is a conversation in the film "A Wish for Christmas", you can download its subtitle on the internet

The boss is talking on the phone:

Boss: Frankly, the way things are going, Christmas is turning into one big, giant headache. I know. Christmas isn't all it's cracked up to be. I've tried to make it work. If you don't like it, then maybe you should talk to him. I have to go. Christmas is not happening. I'm sorry.

After that, a man says

Man: Uh, ahem, did I hear that correct, boss? Because I got five employees coming in to work on Christmas, but if it's not happening...

Boss: What? No, no. That's not what I meant. No. It's happening.

My concern is that the sentence "did I hear that correct?" sounds unfamiliar

Because "Correct" is an adjective & is never an adverb.

So, I expect he says "Did I hear that correctly?" "correctly" is an adverb & modify the verb "hear"

However we also have object compliment,

Eg: I painted the house black. "Black" is an adjective and a compliment of the house Source

Besides, we've got this structure "hear somebody/something doing something" in the dictionary

Eg: He could hear a dog barking. I would say "barking" is a compliment of "a dog"

I am not sure if I can say "I hear that correct", in this case "correct" is an adjective and a compliment of "that"

So, Which one is correct?

Do you say "Did I hear that correctly?" or "Did I hear that correct?"

  • 1
    Using "correct" ae an adverb is substandard English. We should use correctly in the sentence in question.
    – Khan
    Jan 3, 2018 at 5:01

2 Answers 2


"Correct" can be used as a flat adverb in certain dialects. In fact, that includes the dialect of American English that I speak. It is pretty informal. You can find plenty of examples of this online:

Some flat adverbs are considered Standard English, some aren't. Given that I can't find "correct" (as an adverb) in any dictionary, it should not be considered Standard English. (Of course, just because it is found in a dictionary does not mean that everyone will find it acceptable.)

The history of why flat adverbs are disliked by prescriptivists is interesting too.


The man should have stated it using the adverb "correctly" rather than the adjective "correct" because an adverb is used to modify a verb:

"Did I hear that correctly, boss?

Using "correct" as an adverb is, indeed, substandard English as Khan states above.

I hope this might have helped you out. Take care and good luck!

  • 1
    It's one thing to say something is not standard English. It's entirely different to call it "substandard English". "Correct" is used as an adverb in my dialect, like many of the results here show.
    – Laurel
    Jan 3, 2018 at 6:57
  • We teach "standard" English here, so if it is not standard, it's "substandard". If you think it's an affront, it's not, but there is no definition that says "correct" is an adverb in any dictionary. thefreedictionary.com/correct. If you have not noticed, this answer has been approved. I rest my case.
    – Nick
    Jan 3, 2018 at 7:49
  • I could have also used "nonstandard" if I had wanted to, but I felt Khan's use of "substandard" was appropriate. I mean, if it's not standard, then it's substandard (below standard) or nonstandard (not standard).
    – Nick
    Jan 3, 2018 at 8:04
  • I think the problem is that "substandard" implies "bad, incorrect, not valid". But if that's how speakers of (some dialects of) English actually speak, then it's not "substandard" for them.
    – stangdon
    Jan 3, 2018 at 15:00
  • Any deviation from standard English is either substandard or nonstandard English, and those are just substandard or nonstandard qualities in those dialects relative to standard English. You seem to be looking at it from only the standpoint of your specific dialect; I'm looking at it from a relative standpoint when compared to standard form. That doesn't mean your dialect is completely nonstandard; it just means that that is a substandard or nonstandard aspect of it, and I'm sure it's only for some speaker rather than all.
    – Nick
    Jan 3, 2018 at 18:55

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