A quote from the movie The Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2:

They were not looking at you funny.

How to explain the syntactic construction of this sentence? Why does the speaker put funny at the end? I think I can understand this sentence as "they didn't think you are funny."

2 Answers 2


They were not looking at you funny.

The meaning becomes clearer if it is written like this

They were not looking at you in a funny way.


They were not looking at you funnily

In this instance, perhaps Groot didn't like the way someone was looking or staring at them as they were probably not doing anything amusing or entertaining at the time. Although Groot is a tree monster and looks quite adorable in the movie, Groot can be an aggressive and violent character.

The adverb funny is also known as a flat adverb. Some examples of flat adverbs are: fast, slow, quick, soon, and good–although this last one is considered nonstandard by many speakers who prefer to say well, as in “He speaks English well” instead of “He speaks English good.”

What does a flat adverb mean? It means the suffix -ly, typically employed for adverbs, is unnecessary.

A He talks funny
B He talks funnily

Both forms are acceptable and could either mean the speaker talks in an amusing way that makes the listener laugh or the way they talk is a bit strange, weird, or not “normal”. See Lexico's definitions for funny.

If a car engine makes a funny noise, it doesn't make us smile or laugh, we understand that something is peculiar, it's difficult to know what exactly is wrong but perhaps we need to stop off at the nearest garage.


The word "funny" is being used as an adverb to mean (roughly) "strangely". This use is somewhat non-standard. (in the film, baby Groot uses this to justify punching the thing that was looking at him)

  • 3
    Yes - 'funny peculiar' as Brits say, not 'funny ha ha'. 'Oddly' or 'strangely' could replace 'funny'. When I said I could fly, she gave me a funny look. Feb 15, 2021 at 8:34
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    Interested that you'd call it non-standard — it sounds very normal to me, though I guess a bit informal? @mirthspritzsultryobscurantism — obviously Groot never says anything that we can understand but it's a running plot point that Rocket can understand what he means when all we hear is "I am Groot". So when Rocket says "They were not looking at you funny", it's implied that that's why Groot hit them. Feb 15, 2021 at 9:38
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    In British usage 'funny' meaning 'strange, odd, peculiar' is decidedly relaxed and a little informal, but not non-standard at all. A funny smell in my friend's house got worse and turned out to be a dead rat under the floor. Feb 15, 2021 at 22:46
  • Its not the meaning that is "a little non-standard", it is the grammatical function as an adverb: "He looked at me funnily" v. "He looked at me funny"
    – James K
    Feb 15, 2021 at 23:12

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