Fair and Fairly

"I adore adverbs; they are the only qualifications I really much respect."
     ~ Henry James

One of my mom's biggest pet peeves when I was growing up was improper grammar usage.  If I spoke incorrectly, she would immediately repeat what I said back to me using the correct word.  I inherited this tendency from her.  As an adult, if I hear someone on television say, "I feel badly about that," I will often roll my eyes at the TV and say (as if the person on the screen could somehow hear me), "Bad...you feel bad; badly is an adverb." 

To be fair, someone could say that they "feel badly" if an accident had somehow left their fingertips numb.  However, in most cases, people are confusing the adverb badly with the adjective bad. These mix-ups are common in the course of everyday conversation.  And, despite my habit of correcting media personalities, I often make the same mistakes myself.

Here is a quick refresher on the difference:

Adjectives describe nouns or pronouns (that is a cute dress - the adjective cute describes the noun dress)

Adverbs modify everything but nouns and pronouns and sometimes end in the suffix -lyAdverbs often answer the question, "how?" 

Adverbs can modify a verb (she drove the car slowly - how did she drive?) or an adjective (she sang in a very loud voice - how loud was her voice?).  Adverbs can even modify other adverbs (she walked quite slowly down the street - how slowly did she walk?).

However, things can get confusing when one is using a verb describing one of the senses: to taste, to look, to smell or to touch/feel.

If one of these sense verbs is used actively, an adverb should follow.  Feeling done with the fingers is active, so one could feel something badly if their arm had fallen asleep after a nap.

If a sense verb is used descriptively, however, the adjective is needed.

When we say that we feel bad about something we are describing a state of mind, so the adjective should be used.

The man walked into the bank wearing a mask, which made him look suspicious.  Here the word look describes the man's appearance, so the adjective suspicious is used.

The security guard looked at the man suspiciously.
  Here the word looked is referring to an action.  Simply add the suffix -ly to the adjective suspicious and we can then talk about the guard's action of looking.

Trade is fair when goods are traded fairly.  In the first part of the sentence, we are using the word "trade" as a noun, as in "the buying and selling of goods and services."  To describe the noun trade we use the adjective fair.  In the second half of the sentence the word traded is the past tense of the verb "to trade" so the adverb fairly is used.

Speaking of Fair Trade...

Fair Trade USA helps farmers in developing countries build sustainable businesses that positively influence their communities.  While the Fair Trade Certified label is best known for coffee, it has grown to encompass many other products from tea to chocolate, grains, spices, bananas and more.  Visit fairtradeusa.org or click the link up and to the right, under Elaborations, for more information on products that have been fairly traded.

Was that clever, the way I cleverly inserted a reminder about the benefits of Fair Trade into my post about adverbs?


October is Fair Trade Month.  Celebrate by baking up some Dark Chocolate Mole Muffins and making sure to use Fair Trade Certified chocolate, bananas, cinnamon and sugar.

Dark Chocolate Mole Muffins
Think of this recipe as a deconstructed Mole Poblano made into a scrumptious muffin.  Bittersweet chocolate, bananas, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cinnamon and ground ancho chile combine to make for a super-nutritious snack, dessert or breakfast treat.  You can find ground ancho chile in the spice section of Whole Foods Markets or in stores specializing in Hispanic foods.  I used Alter Eco's superb *Mascobado Cane Sugar as well as *two (2oz) bars of Guittard's Bittersweet Chocolate Gourmet Baking Bars for this recipe.  Both are Fair Trade Certified.  Visit alterecofoods.com and guittard.com for details and where to buy. 

1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup Fair Trade Certified cocoa powder
1 & 1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chile
1 teaspoon Fair Trade Certified ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs
3/4 cup Fair Trade Certified light brown sugar*, packed
2 very ripe Fair Trade Certified bananas, mashed well (about 1 cup)
5 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 oz Fair Trade Certified Bittersweet Chocolate (70% cacao), broken into small chunks
(about 3/4 cup of small chunks)

1/2 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup raw, unsalted slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 375° F

Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, ground ancho chile, cinnamon, allspice, pepper and salt.  Mix with a whisk or fork until well combined.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs with the sugar.  Add mashed bananas and oil and mix well.

Add wet ingredients to bowl with dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chunks, pumpkin seeds and almonds.

Divided batter among the lined muffin cups.  Bake for 18 to 22 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12 muffins.


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  • 10/4/2013 6:10 PM Rick wrote:
    Thanks for the lesson in grammar!
    Reply to this
    1. 10/4/2013 8:03 PM Gina De Roma wrote:
      You're welcome! But, if my memories from junior college are correct, you don't need one.  That intense teacher of English composition was Mr. James?  He would probably have corrections for me

      Reply to this
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