I'd like to know how to use short/shortly properly in the following:

It is a long story, but I'll try to put it as short as possible.
It is a long story, but I'll try to put it as shortly as possible.

I also wonder if in short would be correct:

It is a long story, but I'll try to put it in short.


2 Answers 2


You wouldn't "put it" short, you'd "keep it short". Alternatively, you'd "keep it brief", an option that sounds more natural to me.


"Short" is an adjective, while "Shortly" is an adverb. Grammatically speaking, the proper thing to do is to use "short" to describe nouns/things, and "shortly" to describe verbs/actions.

In the first situation, It is a long story, but I'll try to put it as short as possible., you are describing the noun, namely, you're saying that you'll make the story short.

In the second situation, It is a long story, but I'll try to put it as shortly as possible., you are describing the action, namely, you're talking about how long it will take you to talk about the story.

In the final situation, "It is a long story, but I'll try to put it in short.", you are again describing the noun, namely, how the story will be put by you.

All of these three ways are grammatically acceptable, and their meanings are often conflated in everyday conversation.

  • You've got several problems here. You say use shortly to modify verbs, and then your example is "put it as short", which is an adverbial use, one of manner. Perhaps make it short. Your last example uses "put it in short", which strikes me unidiomatic, with unfortunate resonances with put in as a phrasal verb or in short as a prepositional phrase. And you don't mention the real reason not to use shortly to indicate length -- the word's conflicting meanings: after a brief pause, and curtly. By the way, I am not the downvoter.
    – deadrat
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 17:31
  • Forgive me if I'm missing something, but how is "put it as short as possible" an adverbial use? "Short" is modifying "it", (similar to talking about putting ice cream on an ice cream cone ("make it as tall as possible") or or talking about an essay's length ("make it as short as possible")), so why would it be an adverb in this sense, as opposed to an adjective? Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 6:30
  • So it means "put the short it"? I don't think so. As short as possible says how to do the putting, i.e., in as short a manner as possible. And that's an adverbial usage, one of (no surprise) manner. Make it short has short as an objective complement, a usage which requires a categorizing verb: elected him President, labeled it offensive, and the like. I don't think such a usage is idiomatic with put.
    – deadrat
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 7:08
  • It wouldn't be "put the short it", it'd be "put short it", which makes perfect grammatical sense (although it does sound awkward to say aloud). And I disagree; I think "elected him President" and "put it short" are analogous grammatically. Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 21:10
  • Put short it doesn't make sense either, let alone "perfect" sense. And regardless of what you think, put doesn't license a second object as a complement. As I said, that requires a verb of categorization or labeling. I could be convinced by evidence. Got any? The google reports many uses of "put it short", and I've only looked at the first few pages -- non-English speakers, false drops, and adverbs of manner. Maybe you can do better.
    – deadrat
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 21:49

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