Yesterday I heard someone say to “drive safe.”
I hear this a lot, and every time, I add a silent “ly” to the end of “safe.” Drive safely. How do you drive? In what manner? Safely. Not safe. Adverb, not adjective.
But yesterday, I paused.
Suddenly, I remembered Dylan Thomas’s ultra-famous: “Do not go gentle into that good night.”
Note that Thomas doesn’t say not to go gently. He says gentle.
“Gently” would mean that the person GOES in a gentle way. It’s the GOING that’s being referred to. How does he go? Gently.
“Gentle” means that the person IS gentle when he goes. It’s HIM that’s being referred to. How was he when he went? Gentle.
Subtle distinction? Maybe, but that’s why poets make the big bucks. Thomas knew what he was doing. His poem was asking his dad not to be gentle when he went.
Maybe “drive safe” is similar.
“Drive safely” would mean that the person DRIVES in a safe way. Isn’t reckless, for example. Avoids trees.
“Drive safe” means that while driving, the PERSON is safe. May drive like a maniac, but makes it home in one piece anyway.
“Drive safe” a blessing and wish for safety, rather than a command to drive in a particular way. It’s saying, “be safe, dear friend, whilst traveling along the byways of this world we call home.”
Still sounds stupid to me, though.