In previous Grammar 101 posts, I discussed some odd singular-plural pairs, the difference between less and fewer, and how to use apostrophes, among other things. One common error that I’ve been seeing a lot lately (especially with television commercials) is the confusion between adjectives and adverbs.
Taking a short stroll back to elementary school, you may recall that an adjective is used to describe or modify a noun, whereas an adverb is used to describe or modify a verb. Take the following sentence as an example:
The sly fox crawled slowly toward the rabbit.
In that sentence, “sly” is an adjective (describing the fox) and “slowly” is an adverb (described how the fox crawled. For most people who are familiar with the English language, the distinction between an adjective and an adverb appears to be quite clear, but there are certain instances where the two get easily confused. Perhaps the most common of these instances is differentiating between “easier” and “more easily.” This error is perhaps even more common than misusing affect and effect.
“Easier” is an adjective, used to describe a noun. His job is easier than mine is. “More easily” is an adverb, used to describe an action. The new car runs more easily than the old car. This sounds like a simple enough distinction, but I’ve seen quite a few places where ad companies (and people) used “easier” where they really should have used “more easily.”
Pay your bills easier with online billing.
In this example, it should be written as “Pay your bills more easily with online billing.” We are describing how the bills can be paid. By contrast, it would be correct to use “easier” in the following sentence, because “bill paying” is actually a noun. It is short for “the act of bill paying.”
Make bill paying easier with online billing.
In addition to easier and more easily, there are many other cases where such confusion may occur. Colloquially, you could probably get away with minor errors like these, but if you want to find success as a freelancer, you’ll want to keep these little quirks in check.