She stood tall and started to talk normal.

Is this sentence grammatically correct? If so, what to make of the apparently wrong verb+adjective pattern?


The verb needs an adverb "normally".

This shows the preference of the phrase "to talk normally".

  • Thanks. Still curious why there is "talk normal" in the first place. Also, is "stood tall" a phrase? Or because "stood" could be seen as a linking verb?
    – tiaotiao
    May 18 '19 at 3:18
  • Yes, some action verbs develop meanings of linking verbs: to go wrong, to come true, etc.
    – user307254
    May 18 '19 at 4:05

Although it's open to interpretation, in talk normal, I would consider normal to be the noun form of the word.

For example: talk English, talk French, talk a strange tongue, talk normal. It's not describing how someone speaks, but what they speak.

You could also look at it as an elided form of a more complete phrase. For example:

✘ Talk normally English.
✔ Talk normal English.

In this comparison, it only makes sense to use normal, not normally. And, in the case of simply talk normal, English can be thought of as dropped. Although it's a bit unusual, it's not wrong.

If the sentence actually is meant to describe the manner of her speech, then, yes, I would say that the adverb (normally) would be more common. But note that we have road signs that say drive slow rather than drive slowly, and nobody misunderstands the adverbial use of slow. Using a word that doesn't end with -ly as an adverb may not be as common, but it's still quite acceptable.

In stood tall, although tall itself is an adjective, it is being used here as an adverb. It describes how she stood. Adverbs normally take an -ly form, but there are also flat adverbs, as well as words and phrases that can be used as adverbs in some constructions. It's the latter that's happening here.

As an example:

She is faster than him.

Here, faster is an adjective. It describes a quality that she possesses.

She ran faster than him.

Here, faster (while actually an adjective), is being used as an adverb within the syntax of the sentence. It describes how she ran. There is no such adverb as fasterly that could be used instead—nor do we need to invent one simply to have a word that ends in -ly.

Interestingly, Oxford Dictionaries has this entry:


walk (or stand) tall
Be proud and confident.

Checking back with Merriam-Webster, it also has something similar for the phrase:

: to exhibit courage, strength, or calm especially in the face of adversity

This is a figurative sense, however, and it means something different from the literal physical sense of walking or standing tall that I'd been describing up until now.

  • Great explanation! So the "adjectives" turn out to be either a noun or a flat adverb. Interestingly though, there is no mention of "tall" as an adverb in the Oxford/Cambridge dictionaries when I checked, but it is in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Just wondering if the British would rather treat "stand/walk tall" as a set pharse?
    – tiaotiao
    May 19 '19 at 4:19
  • @tiaotiao It turns out that Oxford Dictionaries does. I've added that information to my answer. May 19 '19 at 13:49

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