Commonly confused adverbs
Dead and deadly
Dead is an adverb used in expressions like dead right, dead certain, dead slow, dead straight, dead sure etc. It means ‘exactly’, ‘completely’ or ‘very’.
I am dead certain that he is committing a mistake.
I am dead tired.
He is dead drunk.
Deadly is an adjective. It means ‘fatal’ or ‘causing death’.
Cyanide is a deadly poison.
The adverb for this meaning is fatally.
She was fatally injured in the accident. (NOT She was deadly injured in the accident.)
Free and freely
The adverb free means ‘without payment’. Freely means ‘without limit or restriction’.
Buy one shirt and get one shirt free.
You can’t eat free in a restaurant.
Speak freely – no one will harm you. (NOT Speak free.)
Hard and hardly
The adverb hard has a similar meaning to the adjective hard.
Work hard if you want to succeed.
Hit it hard.
Hardly means ‘almost not’.
We have got hardly any rice left.
High and highly
High refers to height. Highly often means ‘very much’.
Throw it as high as you can.
I can highly recommend this product.
Late and lately
The adverb late has a similar meaning to the adjective late. Lately means ‘recently’.
He came late.
I haven’t been to the opera lately.
Most and mostly
Most is the superlative form of much. Mostly means ‘mainly’.
You are the most beautiful woman in the world.
My friends are mostly non-smokers.