Bites as bad as it barks
The standard rule
|adjective||good, better, (the) best|
Tom's a very good driver
|bad, worse, (the) worst|
Dick's a really bad driver
|adverb||bad, worse, worst|
Tom drives really well
|badly, worse, worst|
Dick drives incredibly badly
Can bad be an adverb?
- Love you so bad - The Empires 1950s
- I want you so bad - James Brown 1959
- (I Love You) So Bad - Paul McCartney 1983
- How bad do you want it - Tim McGraw 2004
- Bites as badly as it barks
A play on words
His bark is worse than his bite
All bark and no bite
Bad, badder, baddest
- they want the baddest, best-looking Corvette there is
- It was the baddest car I'd ever seen and I promised myself right then that one day I'd have one just like it.’
The problem with this sort of pedantry
- They often have an incomplete knowledge of the relevant grammar - Mr Gifford seems unaware that dictionaries do in fact list bad as an adverb.
- They rarely make any distinctions of register, recognising only what is acceptable in formal usage as 'correct'
- They seem unaware of how language is used idiomatically, and especially of nuance - that words can have different meanings to their standard ones.
- And in this case, apparently, a lack of the sense of how language can be played with to humorous effect.
Advertisers and language
- Winston tastes good like a cigarette should - Winston
The use of like as a conjunction, instead of as, shocked some purists, but it became one of the most successful ads ever. Many of us use like as a conjunction imformally.
- I'm Lovin it - McDonalds
The purists maintain that love is a state verb and so cannot be used in the continuous, but when love really means 'enjoy a temporary situation' it's quite often used this way - I'm really loving my new job.
- Think different - Apple
The purists would prefer think differently, but Jobs apparently wanted something idiomatic like 'think big'.
- Got milk? - California Milk Processing Board
This is really just an ellipsis of 'Have you got milk?' but it apparently annoyed some people.
- I wish I was in Egypt - Egypt
Purists would probably prefer the subjunctive - I wish I were in Egypt.
- Make Summer Funner - Target
The grammatically correct version would be Make Summer More Fun, but it wouldn't have quite the same ring. I think even purists can accept the joke here.
- More power. More style. More technology. Less doors. - Mercedes C Class Coupé - fewer doors for the purists
I feel bad - when using bad with verbs is always OK
- I felt really bad about what I said to him.
- This butter tastes bad.
- That doesn't sound too bad.
- The situation is looking pretty bad at the moment.
- There's something in the fridge smelling really bad.
- If the weather turns bad, we'll head back to the car.
- How to tell if meat has gone bad.
- She's really got it bad for Peter.
- If you think we've got it bad now, just wait till the winter comes.
The young Mr Gifford and the BMW ad.
- Daily Mail - the original story, with all the emails
- The Stroppy Editor - a copywriter's reaction
- The Guardian - The young Mr Gifford explains himself
Definition of bad.
- Oxford Online - definition
Feeling bad and feeling badly
Advertising slogans at Wikipedia
Advertising and language
Ads etc at You Tube
- Winston 1955
- Apple - Think different 1997
- McDonalds - I'm Lovin'it
- Got milk?
- Mercedes - Less doors
- I wish I was in Egypt
- When I'm bad, I'm better
- In praise of flat adverbs - Merriam-Webster Dictionary - Ask the Editor
- Daily Writing Tips