Recently I saw a commercial for Sylvan Learning Centers. This is a company that is selling products to help your children do well in school. The ad showed a teenage girl gabbing on the telephone. The voice-over said, “Sally sure can talk fast. We can help her read fast,” or something like that. Apparently grammar is not one of the subjects that Sylvan covers. How does a company that claims to help educate children manage to let a commercial with such an egregious grammatical error get all the way to the television screen? There must not be any English majors working in the marketing department over at ol’ Sylvan.

Fast is an adjective. You don’t do things “fast”. You do things quickly.

There are 8 comments on this post

  1. “fast” is an adverb and an adjective. Look in any dictionary.

  2. I give up. You’re right. You win. All of you win.

    • Impact and itch are verbs.
    • Fast is an adverb.
    • It’s perfectly fine to use ain’t.
    • Height is pronounced with a th sound at the end.
    • Across ends with a T.
    • Lackadaisical has an X in the middle of it.
    • Ask is pronounced like ax.

    You win. I give up. I’ll even start saying my own name as Gange. Will that make you happy?

  3. All I’m saying is: look at the facts. If you don’t like a certain usage, fair enough. But don’t pretend that it’s ungrammatical when it clearly isn’t. “fast” has been used as an adverb for hundreds of years.

  4. I agree that all of those things are poor grammar. You just have to agree that nobody, including YOU ever says “I drive quickly”.

  5. “I drive quickly” would mean that you perform the action of driving in a speedy manner. Basically it would mean that you move your hands quickly from the steering wheel to the turn signal, or that you move your feet quickly while pushing on the brake pedal. It doesn’t make sense. To drive the car is not the same as to travel in the car. You’re trying to use “quickly” to indicate the speed at which your body (in the car) is traveling through space. You are moving quickly; you are not driving quickly.

  6. And again – I must point out that everyone says “I drive fast” – to mean that they move through space in a car quickly. THEY perform the action of driving. Your statement above is both incorrect as well as pointless. “I drive quickly” isn’t proper grammar under ANY circumstance.

  7. er… I don’t see anything wrong with either “I drive quickly” or “I drive fast”.

  8. When you say, “I drive fast,” the listener assumes “my car” or “my motorcycle”. Thus, it’s a grammatically correct sentence, just abbreviated. [You can also use fast as an adjective, if only to insult some poor woman in an old-fashioned way.]

    In the usage you cited in your post, then, you can assume that they meant, “We’ll teach her to read fast.” Thus, fast would be an adverb describing how they teach. I wouldn’t, but you could make the case for it. If that was what they meant, then that was what they should have said.

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