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Aster's avatar

Is , "you should be eating healthy" correct grammar?

Asked by Aster (15864 points ) August 21st, 2014

Not once have I ever read, “I eat healthfully” or, “I eat healthily.” Are they grammatically correct or is, “I eat healthy” right? Because this last one is all I ever hear.
You don’t have to reply if you’re not interested in grammar or the question, though.

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55 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

No. I have heard ‘healthily” so it is not unknown. But more often I have heard it expressed differently – “you should it eat a healthier diet.”

Healthy is an adjective, so it ought to be used as an adjective, not as an adverb.

Aster's avatar

That’s so surprising to me. I have not once heard, “healthily.” Never.

janbb's avatar

It seems to be a change in the language to say “I eat healthy” but it is not correct. In the same way, “Drive safe” has become common parlance when it should really be the adverb form “Drive safely.”

ucme's avatar

Healthier…obviously.

CWOTUS's avatar

This kind of change in the language has come about because of the process of verbing nouns (like that). Turning nouns into verbs (as gerunds, for example) is also part of the way we move the language. It’s so common now that we’re adverbing adjectives, as you have exampled. (Don’t quote me on that. I’m just having fun now.) Some of that stems from laziness and inability (or lack of desire, care or willingness) to understand and apply the correct rules of the language, too, and the simple definitions of words. Some people also seem to be afraid of using correct English, because it marks them as edumacated ‘n shit.

For example, you can probably hear sentences such as this any day of the week: “Let’s see if this is the house for you and I.” Wrong, wrong, wrong! That’s the opposite error from “Let’s you and me check out this house.” Also wrong, but even more widely accepted – so widely, in fact, that it almost seems “more correct” than “Why don’t you and I check out this house.” And we seem to’ve completely given up on “will / shall”, “who / whom” and “would / could / should have” and the completely execrable “would of” ... gaaah.

We substitute “inflammable” for “flammable” – and they both mean exactly the same thing. What up widdat? What kine o’ shizzle dis be? Don’ axe me.

Don’t even get me started on the way people substitute homonyms willy-nilly: there-their-they’re; its and it’s; reign for rein, and the list goes on, but my time be runnin’ out.

dxs's avatar

No, the correct grammar is “You should be eating Healthy.”

Yetanotheruser's avatar

“Healthy”, in this context, is an adjective used as a noun generally accepted to mean “a healthy diet”. I believe “to eat healthy” is understood to mean “to eat (a) healthy (diet)”, or some variant of that idea.

kritiper's avatar

Eating is always healthy. Eating better is healthier.

Adagio's avatar

I am familiar with the word healthily, eating healthily works just fine in this instance. The use of the expression “eating healthy” has always irked me.

Buttonstc's avatar

Perhaps one of the most well known examples of where an adverb should be used but isn’t is the Apple motto “Think Different”

The Simpsons even poked fun at it with little Lisa proclaiming “of course it should be “Think Differently”

I just loved that little bit.

:D

Stinley's avatar

British English it is always “I eat healthily”. Healthy is an adjective and healthily is the adverb. I looked it up in Collins, a British dictionary. I also looked this up in Merriam-Webster which is a American dictionary and it is the same.

It sounds very American to me to use an adverb as an adjective, so I think it must be common enough usage to have made it into TV and films. Is it correct grammar? No.

JLeslie's avatar

One of my pet peeves is people saying safe and personal when it should be safely and personally. It’s like half of America has an aversion to adding the suffix LY. I have to admit, I never thought about the word healthy. I think I might sometimes use healthy incorrectly? I’m not even sure. Now I am going to catch myself when I do if I am doing it.

@Stinley Not all of America, but a good portion don’t use the adverb when they should. I actually don’t see it on scripted shows much, but I do on reality TV. Some parts of America do it more than others. I first heard it in our Midwest region when I moved out there for college many years ago. They also don’t use the suffix EN. They get bit by a mosquito, not bitten. Part of it tends to be related to education level also, which explains why scripted shows are more likely not to have those mistakes.

Aster's avatar

I had a friend who would say, “I’m so glad I live simple.”
“I try to eat healthy” is now, in my opinion, fairly well established in America.

Stinley's avatar

It just sounds half finished to me. I’m waiting for the noun to come after healthy: ‘I try to eat healthy…food’

zenvelo's avatar

@Stinley It’s half baked….

janbb's avatar

Halfly baked?

Stinley's avatar

halfily baked

Yetanotheruser's avatar

Baked half-way?

JLeslie's avatar

@Aster I think we are dropping the word food at the end. I try to eat healthy food would be correct.

CWOTUS's avatar

If you’re dropping food at the end, then you may be eating too quickly.

zenvelo's avatar

If you’re dropping food at the end, you need to change your shirt.

janbb's avatar

But if you change your shirt, you need to do and fold your laundry!

Yetanotheruser's avatar

I would drop the “you need to do and fold your laundry!

P.S. Has this become a “whisper” thread?

Adagio's avatar

I’ve been thinking about this overnight. You could instead say ”… healthy diet.”

When I use the word diet I am referring to the kind of food one usually eats, not a restrictive diet undertaken in order to lose weight.

morphail's avatar

It’s a predicate adjective, the same construction as built tough, paint it white, I want my coffee black.

Stinley's avatar

But is healthy the right word? Knowing that it is a predicate adjective doesn’t answer that.

I’m not a grammar expert and I don’t know the names of grammar rules. I’m more of an instinctive grammarian and I am 100% sure that healthy is not the right word to use in this context but that healthily is.

If you said ‘you should be eating nicely’, that would be correct but ‘you should be eating nice’ is wrong. ‘You should be eating properly’ is right, ‘you should be eating proper’ is wrong.

Hope this helps.

zenvelo's avatar

It is not a predicate adjective. “Healthy” is a modifier of “eating”; which makes it an adverbial case, but healthy is not an adverb. In this case, using “healthy” is wrong.

morphail's avatar

Why is it not a predicative adjective? How is it different than “built tough”?

If you don’t like it don’t use it. But lots of people use it and understand it with no problem.

zenvelo's avatar

@morphail

A “predicate adjective” is a modifier of the subject not a modifier of the verb. In the example in the question, “healthy” is modifying “eating” which is a verb, not a subject. That is why it is not a “predicate adjective” and why it is misused.

If you want to modify the verb use an adverb. An adverb that would work in this situation is healthily.

In built tough the word tough is modifying the understood subject “it”. It is not modifying the verb “built”.

morphail's avatar

@zenvelo I think you’re right about predicate adjectives, thanks.

But I don’t agree that “eat healthy” is a misuse. It occurs much more often than “eat healthily”. It is used and understood without comment by native speakers. It might not be standard English, but it is grammatical.

morphail's avatar

@janbb “drive safe” might be a predicate complement

Stinley's avatar

@morphail I think that it may very well be in common use but it is not grammatically correct

morphail's avatar

@stinley I think that the relationship between “healthy” and “eat” is not adverb-verb. It’s a complement relationship along the lines of “drive safe”, “think different”, etc.
Or, it could be a new flat adverb (an adverb that doesn’t end in -ly).

Stinley's avatar

I just wrote a sentence and thought of this thread so here i am. What do you think is the right word here:
they send the title directly to me?
or
they send the title direct to me?

I wrote direct then I added the ly. I’m going with that since I can’t wait to send the email but what are your thoughts?
don’t get hung up on my use of title as it makes sense in the context of the email!

janbb's avatar

@Stinley “Directly” is what is correct.

CWOTUS's avatar

Or they could send it to you directly. They could even direct it to you presently, or present it to you directly.

It’s a good thing that title isn’t a present from a member of Congress. Imagine being presently presented with a present from a Representative. I won’t even get into the potential confusion caused by future presents.

morphail's avatar

“Direct” is an adverb.

JLeslie's avatar

Directly.

morphail's avatar

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage notes that “direct” and “directly” are interchangeable in this context.

JLeslie's avatar

Ok, but I would use directly. Direct is one of those odd words though, used in many ways. If I said, “I flew direct to NYC” (which I actually never say, because back in the day nonstop actually meant nonstop and direct meant you didn’t have to get off the plane to get to your final destination, but now people use direct synonymously with nonstop for air travel) direct in that context sounds normal because it is the type of flight. I guess it is used that way in other context as well.

Having said that there are dictionaries that say regardless and irregardless are synonymous, and I really don’t care if a dictionary says that about it, one is wrong in my opinion and should be corrected every time.

JLeslie's avatar

Well, I hate that word. What I hate more is when some people don’t understand why it is illogical, not to be confused with what you are saying, which is simply that it is acceptable and there are other examples in English of similar uses of prefixes.

When someone cannot understand that regardless means without regard it does cause me an eye roll. When they further don’t understand that adding ir is like not, and then we basically have a double negative, I just really can’t understand it. However, if they still want to use the word, because it is commonly used and understood, then that’s fine. I certainly am not going to call the police about it.

I wish Jeruba or gailcalled had been on that Q, I can’t imagine they are ok with it, but I could be wrong.

morphail's avatar

Whether it is logical or not is irrelevant. Language is not logic. And I’m not saying it’s acceptable. What I am saying is that it can be explained.

But if you insist on thinking it needs to be logical, what about this: some double negatives are multiplicative, so they cancel each other out, like “not unnecessary”. And some double negatives are additive, so that it remains negative, like “irregardless” or ”“I never said nothing to nobody”

JLeslie's avatar

Who said I am insisting? I am saying I just at least want people to understand why it can be seen as illogical. There are exceptions all over the English language, and I think we all agree the language evolves.

A Soanish speaking person not formally taught English might say, “I don’t have no chocolate in my house.” We know what he means, but the double negative is technically wrong. In Spanish double negative is correct, so if he doesn’t know the rules for English the mistake easily is made trying to directly translate what he is trying to say. Whole communities can wind up speaking like that and a dialect develops. If they want to get a job eventually at a c-level job at a Fortune 500 company, they are going to have to learn what the standard is. They can still speak their dialect in their house, community, with family, doesn’t matter to me, I just prefer people know the common rules and the basics of the language. Not the new immigrant, I could care less if they ever speak English, except that I don’t want them to be limited in their opportunity, but children born and raised here should be aware of the basic rules and a basic understanding of standard English.

We are extremely lucky in America that the language we grow up with is what most of the world speaks as a second language, if not first. Communicating with people in business who speak English as a second language is much easier if everyone is using close to the book taught way, because those ESL tend to learn a lot of their English from books.

My own abilities in the English language are lacking, I wish I had better knowledge of the grammar rules and a broader vocabulary. I want to be corrected and shown where I can improve. Not simple typos on the internet where we use abbreviations, type in phones on mini screens, and it is difficult to edit, but when it is obvious I have used a word incorrectly I want to know. I don’t want to just say, “well where I live we say it that way,” I want to know how people say it, whatever it is, in different regions. You have demonstrated irregardless should be ok according to what you have researched, I am only saying it is valid to say it is an oddity, even though we do have other oddities in the language.

Communication is best when the two people conversing speak the same language whether it be a dialect or what is taught in school.

morphail's avatar

And I wish people would understand that there is no reason to expect language to be logical. If language was logical than we would be able to understand “kick the bucket” from its constituent parts. If language was logical then 4 would be grammatical:

1 I pour the beer.
2 The beer pours easily.
3 Alice adores hand loomed fabrics.
4 Hand loomed fabrics adore easily.

If language was logical, then we would mark time consistently: “I’m going to Paris (next year)” and “I’m going to the park (now)” wouldn’t use the same verb form. If language was logical then we wouldn’t have ambiguous sentences like “I don’t hate him because he’s handsome” (“he’s handsome, therefore I don’t hate him” vs “I hate him but not because he’s handsome”)

Language is not logical, but it is systematic.

JLeslie's avatar

@morphail Sounds like you are being very specific about the definitions of logical and systematic. I think what I wrote is probably pretty well understood by the majority of the people reading it.

gailcalled's avatar

^^ I want to be corrected and shown where I can improve.

“Muscle tone (noun)” or “her body is toned (adjective).” You can’t say, “I want to be tone.”

gailcalled's avatar

In “The Taming of the Shrew,” Petrucchio says,

I come to wive it wealthily in Padua

He skulked stealthily into the room.

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled So, what about irregardless? Do you ever use it? Do you like it? Approve of it?

gailcalled's avatar

Isn’t this old news? ”Irregardless should be avoided by careful users of English. Use regardless to mean without regard or consideration for or nevertheless.”

Dictionary.com

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled I’m not sure why you are being so dismissive. I value your knowledge of the English language so I was just asking. Seems we agree regarding irregardless.

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