Where do you stand on the Drive Safe or Drive Safely debate? Are they both equally correct, or are there subtle differences between the two phrases? The English language is full of words & phrases that seem identical, but often have slightly different meanings. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at these two phrases and find out which one is grammatically correct.
Which Is Correct: Drive Safe or Drive Safely?
“Safe” and “safely” are both adverbs just like yep vs yup. Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or even other adverbs! The only difference is that “safe” is a flat adverb. You can identify flat adverbs easily because they function just like regular adverbs, but they are missing the -ly. Adverbs like this can even be changed into adjectives depending on the context of the sentence. In fact, flat adverbs have the same form as their related adjectives.
- Drive Safe – This phrase should only be used as a parting farewell. For example, “Drive safe and watch out for deer”. So, when someone says “drive safe,” what they really mean is “be careful.” It is more commonly used in casual speech or conversation.
- Drive Safely – This phrase is considered grammatically correct in all other contexts. The phrase “drive safely” is usually used as a polite way of saying goodbye to someone who is about to get into a car and drive. It can also be used to describe the manner in which someone drives.
Takeaway: Both terms can be used to say farewell. However, “drive safely” should be used in all other contexts.
Using It In Conversation
Casual conversation has always been more lenient and allows more descriptive instead of prescriptive grammar rules. In other words, slang is accepted & not everything has to be proper English.
In spoken conversation, both phrases “drive safe” and “drive safely” can be used in the right context. Although “drive safe” was more popular in Middle English, it is still used today.
- “Drive safe the road is very dark and winding.”
- “I am never driving with Mark again, he has no clue how to drive safely!”
- “It is raining out so be sure to drive safely & take your time.”
Using It In Your Writing
- Remember to drive safely or you may end up as roadkill.
- Drive safely, or you’ll end up being a Darwin Award winner.
- If you don’t drive safely, you are bound to get into an accident eventually.
Frequently Asked Questions
People say “drive safely” because they care about you. They don’t want you to get into an accident and risk your life or the lives of others.
In this context, you can use safe & safely interchangeably. Both safe and safely are adverbs in this context. However, safe is a flat adverb that is identical to their related adjective.
Just like in life, following the rules is the best way to stay safe while driving. That means obeying the speed limit, using your turn signals, and not texting or talking on the phone while you’re behind the wheel. And of course, don’t forget to wear your seatbelt.
You have a few different options depending on your relationship with the person. I usually reply with a cheesy one-liner, like “I’ll try my best!” or “I’ll take my chances!”
The Bottom Line
There are many tricky grammar rules in the English language. For example, is nonetheless one word or is it two words? The phrase “drive safe” can be used when someone is saying goodbye, but it should not be used when giving safety instructions. The correct phrase to use when giving safety instructions is “drive safely”. This article has hopefully helped you choose the right phrase to use in different situations. And if you need some additional help, be sure to use our free grammar checker online tool! Be sure to use the right phrase depending on the context!