I am reading EB White's letters and encountered the following sentence:

I'm just writing this haphazard for no reason other than that I felt like awriting you a letter before going to bed.

I am wondering if he should have used haphazard or haphazardly in the above sentence. Why?

  • 1
    It could also be a deliberate play on words. (In that he knew he should have used haphazardly but misused the adjective deliberately. The fact that it's ungrammatical is its own best demonstration of how haphazardly he was writing.) Apr 28, 2019 at 4:53

2 Answers 2


It may just be a mistake — this is a personal letter, written with haste and emotion, so it may not have been carefully edited.

But E. B. White was well-read, so he was probably using haphazard in the old way: before it was an adjective, it was a noun meaning "chance, accident". So he's calling his letter a haphazard, i.e. saying it was unplanned.

This usage is archaic now, and even native speakers no longer recognize it.

(Is "awriting" in the original, or is that a typo?)

  • Interesting, I did not know that.
    – Andrew
    Apr 27, 2019 at 22:34

The word 'haphazard' is an adjective, so it is supposed to modify noun after it. But I think the writer means "I'm just writing this haphazard thing for no reason" without mentioning the word 'thing'.

And yes, if you use haphazardly there, it will be correct as haphazardly is an adverb that will modify the action verb 'writing'.

Hope my opinion helps!

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