Submitted by demisty  •  July 21, 2010

Really happy or real happy

I think when used as an adverb or adjective, the word should be really, as in “She is really happy.” Real is equivalent to true, or genuine, or actual whereas really is equivalent to the word very.

Is it correct to use real as an adverb or adjective in this way?

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@Douglas.Bryant - I'll leave the 'real' stuff to you Americans. As a speaker of standard BrE, I'm not really qualified to comment, as I think this is mainly an American usage. In standard BrE it's quite clear:
real = adjective
really = adverb
However my dictionary lists 'real' as an adverb in informal use, not only for AmE, but also for Scottish English.

But I'm not sure about your comments about 'really' not being used as much as an intensifier as it is to mean 'actually'. This Ngram graph would suggest that 'is really angry' (=very) is much more common than 'really is angry' (=actually).

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=is...

'Really' as an intensifier has two advantages over 'very':
1. It can be used with both gradable and ungradable adjectives, whereas 'very' can only be used with gradable. (This is especially useful for learners)
2. It's emotionally stronger than 'very'. It sounds as though you really mean it; it's more from the heart. Compare:
- It was a very good concert; I had a very good time. I'm very glad I went.
- It was a really good concert; I had a really good time. I'm really glad I went.

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@porsche ... otherwise known as flat adverbs. They were once more common than they are now. Nothing wrong with them.

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Loud, soft, quick, slow, fast (I guess there isn't a "fastly"), I'm sure there are more. All of these are frequently used adverbially (sometimes in combination with real, too!)

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Throughout the past century, at least, REAL as an adverb is acceptable .. in speech only .. if it is used to mean VERY.

... and I'm real sure of this.

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MDWEU on "real" as an adverb: http://books.google.com/books?id=2yJusP0vrdgC&a...

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Well I'mm real mad at you. I doesn't have to talk any way you wanted me to. Just let my talking be my talking. Im sertan that im write so leaved me be fool!

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Incorrect English is not acceptable. Please read the following and learn how to communicate correctly. When you speak like a cretin you are perceived as a cretin.

Real is an adjective. It modifies only nouns or pronouns.

Really is an adverb. It modifies verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.

Correct: He stayed at hotels with real class.
(Class is a noun. The adjective modifies it.)

Incorrect: He stayed at a real classy hotel.
(Classy is an adjective. It should be modified by an adverb.)

Correct: He stayed at a really classy hotel.
(The adjective classy is modified by the adverb.)

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as long as you're allowed*

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Exactly, real is used for true, genuine, etc..

However, when I think of He was real happy, I think he was really happy. When I hear He was really happy, I think, really? Well, if you say so. Because, really is just an adverb - or in other words the adjective for an adjective - of happy. And so, if it wasn't used as an "adjective", or adverb, then it would mean real. I think rather, he was actually happy.

However, when I was say he was real happy, I think of vibrant colours, reality, real life, I feel the emotions he is feeling at the same time as thinking them, whereas really happy is just, well, yeah I know I believe you don't worry, I know that he is actually happen.

DeMisty, language is all about the choice of words and intonation. In terms of writing, it is all about the choice of words. The way you word things can change the way someone reads it drastically. That's all it comes down to.

Where I'm from, 'real' is accepted as formal and accepted that way. However, on something like an essay, there is another sense to the word 'formal', in terms of an essay being formal. It means that it cannot have emotions, and 'real' sometimes gives off emotions. For any other piece of writing that is not artsy nor for an essay, as long as you're not allowed to describe emotions, 'real' should accepted.

The only reason it shouldn't be accepted would be the stubbornness of some people who think they know the rules of English language. Even in any university, especially a prestigious one, should accept it. Actually, no, 'prestigious' universities would not, because they are not at all prestigious. They are famous, yes, but not prestigious, as in good, and famous because they are good. They are famous because they get funding, aka money. People who have the money are not the academics; they are the people with power and have the voice to bias rules and regulations.

And so, in any actual good university that you go to, if you use 'real', and they don't accept it, as long as you give your case, you shouldn't have a problem with it. That's actually what they're supposed to teach you, not impose their views on you. If you have the willingness to things in a different way because you learned that it is right, through your studies, then they have done their job.

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The idea that that "real" as an adverb might have a certain nuanced difference in meaning from "really" hadn't occurred to me before. Interesting; I'll have to think about that.

If you're looking for a hard "rule" though, I recommend you confine your use of the adverb "real" to colloquial language and stick with "really" in formal spoken/written English.

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...or to quote Ren & Stimpy, "happy, happy joy,joy"!

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The objection to the adverb "real" is that it is informal, and better suited to speech than to writing. Some have gone so far as to object to "real" as an adverb entirely. This is one of those nineteenth-century grammatical shibboleths that is largely ignored in practice, and rightly. True, the adverbial "real" is perceived—by some—as less formal than "really," but it is not incorrect. It has a long history of usage, both spoken and written, and is perfectly standard English.

"Real," as an adverb, is a simple amplifier, similar to "very." The adverb "really" is more nuanced; it might mean "very" (he is really angry) or it might mean "actually" (he is really angry). In general, however, "really" is more often used to mean "actually" than "very." Whether "real" is the appropriate adverb depends on the intended meaning.

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