Submitted by Warsaw Will on April 13, 2014

Natural as an adverb

In his entry on ‘try and do’, Fowler calls it “an idiom that should not be discountenanced, but used when it comes natural”.

What interested me was his use of ‘natural’ as an adverb. Oxford Online gives the example ‘keep walking—just act natural’, which sounds OK to me, if idiomatic.

There are examples from Dickens and Walter Scott of ‘comes natural’  in dialogues, where ‘natural’ is being used as an adverb, but Fowler’s use here sounds strange to me. Any thoughts?

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"The Harry Redknapp Book of English as Spoken in The East End of London". :-))
Lists these other examples:-
"We done brilliant."
"He played magnificent."

Don't sound right, do they?

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"The Harry Redknapp Book of English as Spoken in The East End of London" lists these other examples:- :-))
"We done brilliant."
"He played magnificent."

Don't sound right, do they?

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@HS - They don't sound right as Standard English, but the first one, at least, is quite normal in dialect, and of course there's the famous 'The boy done good'. Dialects have different rules, and in some English dialects adjectives are commonly used as adverbs.

But Fowler is obviously writing in Standard English. I'm wondering if this use was perhaps commoner in the past, or if, on the other hand, I'm simply alone in finding it odd.

Ngram would seem to support the first theory, with 'comes natural' being quite popular between about 1880 and about 1940, with interestingly a peak in the late twenties (Fowler's book was published in 1926). 'Comes naturally' was always more common, but whereas the ratio (in British books) in 1880 was little more than 2:1, it is now more like 12:1.

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

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I like thinking about it that the meaning is "it comes along, and it is natural", with natural relating to "an idiom" and not to "comes"

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