My parents are very ....... married.

  1. happy
  2. happily

I've seen "happily" is used in sentences like this. but I want to know that is it correct if we use "happy" instead of "happily"? Why?

  • 1
    There is a distinction between "My parents are married (and their marriage is happy)" and "My parents are happy (because they are married)"
    – Henry
    Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 13:46
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    Why are you asking? What do you think is happening here? What meaning do you want to communicate? Married is an adjective or a past participle (it's not always easy to distinguish the two but often it doesn't matter), and both are usually modified by adverbs. But you can use "my parents are very happy married" in which case "happy" is not modifying "married".
    – Stuart F
    Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 15:49
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    @StuartF: No - you can't use "my parents are very happy married"! (Or at least, that would be a very strange utterance!) It pretty much has to be adverbial happily Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 15:53
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    @MohamadMohseniAhuii: It may or may not be true that "in general we don't use an adjective to modify another adjective". I'm just saying that "My parents are happy married" is incredibly unlikely - it's the same syntax as, for example, "I'm quite happy sitting here", but in practice we just wouldn't use "married" like that. Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 18:03
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    I think what StuartF was trying to say is the alternate sentence "My parents are very happy being married." But since you can sometimes elide forms of "to be," it condenses to just "...happy married." He's not using "happy" as a flat adverb Commented Aug 5, 2023 at 0:38

2 Answers 2


You should use "happily". This adverb modifies the adjective "married". Adjectives modify nouns; adverbs modify verbs, adjectives and other structures. So you need an adverb here.

There is an alternative in which "married" is a complementary participle phrase to the sentence "My parent's are very happy". For example you could say "My parents are very happy living in France". That example uses a present participle, but in theory, a past (ie passive) participle could be used too. But this isn't the sentence you want to say, and in practice we don't use "married" like that. So feel free to ignore this paragraph.

  • 2
    I see we both chose to use a continuous participle in our examples for this construction. I know in principle we can use past participles in the same way, but offhand I can't think of an obviously idiomatic example. Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 19:18

Your example would be

My parents are very happily married.

Because that is the common form of that phrase and happily is the adverb form.

But, nuance....

My parents are very happy married.

works as a short form of something like

My parents are very happy [now that they're] married [after dating for 10 years].

In this case, it would be spoken with a distinct emphasis on married.

  • 1
    "happy married" can also be short for "happy being married"
    – Barmar
    Commented Aug 5, 2023 at 18:41

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