I frequently hear:

What am I doing wrong?

But shouldn't it be

What am I doing wrongly?

instead? A quick ngram search reveals the latter is never used. Why is there no -ly? Isn't the former wrong?

  • 1
    @Ustanak: Wrong. Wrong is an adverb as well as an adjective. Wrongly is only an adverb.
    – Colin Fine
    Feb 27, 2016 at 0:12
  • @ColinFine I'd cleared this with another user before you told me this. I forgot to delete my comment.
    – Schwale
    Feb 27, 2016 at 0:29

1 Answer 1


"wrong" and "wrongly" are both common and legitimate adverbs in modern English. The former is much more common. (COCA tells me "wrong" as an adverb is 6.28 times more common than "wrongly") Of course, it's not that precise, but it relies on a pretty good approximation.


adverb 11. in a wrong manner; not rightly; awry; amiss

  • "Wrongly" is almost never used except in phrases borrowed from legalese. Look at the context of the examples in those links. "Wrongly accused," "wrongly convicted," and so on.
    – relaxing
    Feb 26, 2016 at 21:59

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