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Big is an adjective, which can not modify the verb dream. Can we use big here?

She dreams big.

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  • The short answer is yes, "She dreams big" is natural and grammatically correct.
    – Walter
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 6:37

2 Answers 2

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English idioms often use adjectives to describe modes, or ways of doing things, as if they were adverbs. Think of them as a shorthand way of indicating an adverbial phrase, such as this: "She dreams in a big way." Or you can think of it as a shorthand way of describing the object of the verb, thus: "She dreams about big things."

By doing this, we add a dynamic quality to the statement. We convey much more force and immediacy. When we say, "She dreams big," we give the impression that she is a person who has forceful thoughts, ambition, and serious intentions to do important things. The style of a sentence in English is quite important. "She dreams big" is very different from "she dreams about big subjects every night." The fact is, "she dreams big" does not even normally refer to dreams that occur during sleep! It generally refers to one's life plans! This is why the exact structure of a sentence in English must be just so to say exactly what you mean.

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  • as for what you mentioned( "English idioms often use adjectives to describe modes, or ways of doing things, as if they were adverbs."), would you please give me other examples?
    – user48070
    Commented Jul 29, 2013 at 3:25
  • In American football, we may tell a receiver to run far down the field by saying "go long." We tell people to be careful when driving by saying "drive safe." We toss people a ball in a tricky way, as if to catch them off guard, and say "think fast!" We say someone is living in an extravagant, flashy, expensive manner in this way: "He lives large." There are other examples, too, but these are just a quick few off the top of my head. :) Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 0:42
  • thank you very much for giving me such a detailed answer. It seems that this usage is commonly used in oral English,what about in written English?
    – user48070
    Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 1:35
  • Oral and written English do not have strict dividing lines. Although there are reasons to use certain words or phrases in "formal" written English, and not to use certain colloquial or slang words or phrases, the distinction is not in whether it is written or not, but in what kind of writing. And even then, if one is writing about that kind of language, or purposely writing in that kind of language to create a certain effect, you would still use those words in written English. I hope this is clear. :) Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 6:22
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Compare it with think big.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English:

think big informal to plan to do things that are difficult, but will be very impressive, make a lot of profit etc.

Example: The company is thinking big.

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  • Moreover, under the word big, Wordnik lists some adverbial definitions from a few different dictionaries.
    – J.R.
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 11:01

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