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I learned in school that it's correct to say really good. On the internet I've also seen real good. Is this grammatically incorrect, or are there particular circumstances under which this is correct? Perhaps only in American English?

  • Note there are some adverbs that just don't have -ly: "fast, well, hard". (there is "hardly" too but means about the opposite...) – SF. Jan 23 '13 at 22:48
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    “Hardly” is kinda the opposite but it's hardly that simple. – Nikana Reklawyks Jan 24 '13 at 9:04
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Real is an adjective and really is an adverb. It is not grammatically correct to use these terms interchangeably.

However the adverbial -ly is often dropped in speech, especially for words such as really and badly. For example:

Tom was in a car crash yesterday, he was hurt real bad.

Will often be heard in speech, or seen in informal writing. But to be grammatically correct you would say:

Tom was in a car crash yesterday, he was hurt really badly.

There are also some adverbs which do not sound "right" in speech either and the -ly should be kept. For example:

She carefully walked over the bridge.

As opposed to:

She careful walked over the bridge.

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    If something is often heard in speech and seen in informal writing, it is just that: informal. It is not ungrammatical. "Tom was bad hurted real" would be ungrammatical. "Tom was hurt real bad" is perfectly grammatical, just not the highest register. In fact you will find the adverb real included in respected dictionaries. – ЯegDwight Jan 24 '13 at 14:04
  • Does this apply to all flavours of English, or is it dropped exclusively in US or North American English? – gerrit Feb 20 '13 at 20:35
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Most adverbs in English end in 'ly', and if you want to be grammatically correct you should use them in full. Using the adjectival form (e.g. quick instead of quickly, rough instead of roughly) is commonly used in informal speech but is not correct.

There are also some irregular adverbs that don't end in 'ly' and may have no relationship with the adjective, such as 'well' in She doesn't drive very well, or 'easy' in Stand easy! Unfortunately there is no rule about these - you just have to learn them.

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