I have a question, if i were frustrated and said:

"I can't say anything correct in English"

"i can't say anything correctly in English"

which is right?

Thanks very much.

  • When you type your question, can't you see the red marks for mistakes? – Lambie Apr 24 '18 at 22:47
  • @Lambie I think that very much depends on the browser and additional extensions/programs installed on the machine. – Eddie Kal Apr 24 '18 at 23:22
  • Yes, I think it's also due to people using their phones, rather than a computer. – Lambie Apr 24 '18 at 23:28

If you were frustrated because of your difficulty speaking English, then you would want to use the latter "I can't say anything correctly in English.", which could be loosely paraphrased as "When I'm speaking English, I am incapable of communicating things properly." In this case, "correctly" is an adverb which is talking about the manner in which you are saying things in English.

The other case is not grammatically incorrect, but would rarely be appropriate to use. Saying "I can't say anything correct in English" would describe the rather odd case of (maybe) being able to speak some English, but only when making factually inaccurate (i.e. incorrect) statements. In this case, "correct" is an adjective, describing the factual accuracy of the things you are saying in English. If it were actually true that one couldn't "say anything correct in English", then it would imply that anything they said in English must be factually incorrect (probably not what you intend to say, in most cases).

  • To say something correctly
  • To speak correctly.
  • To spell correctly [also: incorrectly, exists]

When you ask the question: How am I saying this? The word correct goes with how you are saying it. It goes with the verb. It is an adverb. It adds meaning to the verb.

Just like: He paints very badly. He is a bad painter. She speaks well. She is a good speaker.

Many adverbs in English take ly: hastily, nicely, sweetly. But others are irregular: badly, well, fast.

He speaks fast. She drives badly. They speak English well. He play guitar nicely. [well]

This is a basic idea about adverbs. Not the whole story.


Both are valid. Correctly is an adverb and modifies the verb (say). Correct is a adjective and modifies the object (anything).

I can't [correctly say] anything.
I can't say [anything correct].

You would want to use 'correctly' if you were saying it in frustration because you are emphasizing that you are having trouble "saying it correctly". Rather than what you saying being exactly correct.

  • Im a little confused about the last part, isnt what you say and saying the same thing? its the words that i say that are not correct, it seems both could possibly apply then? – Bryan Yang Apr 24 '18 at 21:06
  • [anything correct] means you literally cannot use correct English for anything. [correctly say] is more implying that in general, you have trouble using correct English. Both are nearly the same though. – Jamie Clinton Apr 24 '18 at 21:16

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