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Correct vs. Correctly — What's the Difference?

By Urooj Arif & Fiza Rafique — Updated on March 21, 2024
"Correct" is an adjective describing something free from errors, while "correctly" is an adverb describing the manner of doing something accurately or appropriately.
Correct vs. Correctly — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Correct and Correctly

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Key Differences

"Correct" serves as an adjective, used to qualify nouns by indicating that they are free from errors, mistakes, or faults. For instance, when we say a "correct answer," it implies that the answer is accurate and free from errors. On the other hand, "correctly" functions as an adverb, modifying verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs to describe the action or manner of doing something in an accurate, precise, or appropriate way. For example, in the phrase "answered correctly," "correctly" describes the manner in which the answer was given, emphasizing its accuracy.
The use of "correct" often pertains to the state or condition of being right or accurate, such as in "correct posture" or "correct format," where it describes the quality of the posture or format. Conversely, "correctly" is used to discuss the process or method of achieving correctness, as in "speak correctly" or "complete the task correctly," highlighting the accuracy of the action or process.
While "correct" is primarily used to describe things or states, "correctly" is more about actions and methodologies. For example, "correct procedures" refers to procedures that are established as right or proper, whereas "follow procedures correctly" implies that the procedures are being executed in the right manner.
In context, "correct" might be used to affirm the validity or accuracy of something, such as in "Your theory is correct." In contrast, "correctly" would be used when the focus is on the execution, like in "You've performed the experiment correctly." This distinction helps to clarify whether the emphasis is on the inherent correctness of an item or idea, or on the accuracy of the actions taken in relation to it.

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech

Adjective
Adverb
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Function

Describes nouns as free from errors
Describes the manner of doing something accurately

Usage

Pertains to the state or condition of being right
Focuses on the process or method of achieving correctness

Examples

Correct answer, correct posture
Answered correctly, speak correctly

Contexts

Used to affirm the validity or accuracy of things or states
Used when emphasizing the accuracy of actions or methodologies

Compare with Definitions

Correct

Free from errors or faults.
He had the correct key for the door.

Correctly

In an accurate or true manner.
The student correctly solved the complex problem.

Correct

In accordance with fact or truth.
Your calculations are correct.

Correctly

With precision or exactness.
The machine was correctly calibrated.

Correct

Accurate or precise.
Ensure the time is set to the correct value.

Correctly

Appropriately or suitably.
The instructions were followed correctly.

Correct

Suitable or appropriate.
She wore the correct attire for the interview.

Correctly

Without errors or mistakes.
The names were spelled correctly on the certificates.

Correct

Conforming to social or moral norms.
It's important to use politically correct language.

Correctly

In accordance with rules or standards.
The documents were filled out correctly.

Correct

To make or put right
Correct a mistake.
Correct a misunderstanding.

Correctly

To make or put right
Correct a mistake.
Correct a misunderstanding.

Correct

To remove the errors or mistakes from
Corrected her previous testimony.

Correctly

To remove the errors or mistakes from
Corrected her previous testimony.

Correct

To indicate or mark the errors in
Correct an exam.

Correctly

To indicate or mark the errors in
Correct an exam.

Correct

To speak to or communicate with (someone) in order to point out a mistake or error.

Correctly

To speak to or communicate with (someone) in order to point out a mistake or error.

Correct

To scold or punish so as to improve or reform.

Correctly

To scold or punish so as to improve or reform.

Correct

To remedy or counteract (a defect, for example)
The new glasses corrected his blurry vision.

Correctly

To remedy or counteract (a defect, for example)
The new glasses corrected his blurry vision.

Correct

To adjust so as to meet a required standard or condition
Correct the wheel alignment on a car.

Correctly

To adjust so as to meet a required standard or condition
Correct the wheel alignment on a car.

Correct

To make corrections.

Correctly

To make corrections.

Correct

To make adjustments; compensate
Correcting for the effects of air resistance.

Correctly

To make adjustments; compensate
Correcting for the effects of air resistance.

Correct

Free from error or fault; true or accurate.

Correctly

Free from error or fault; true or accurate.

Correct

Conforming to standards; proper
Correct behavior.

Correctly

Conforming to standards; proper
Correct behavior.

Correct

Free from error; true; accurate.
Your test was completely correct, you get 10 out of 10
We all agreed they'd made the correct decision.

Correctly

In a correct manner.
Most people couldn't pronounce Daragh's name correctly, so he went by the name of "Dave" instead.

Correct

With good manners; well behaved; conforming with accepted standards of behaviour.

Correctly

In a correct manner; exactly; acurately; without fault or error.

Correct

Used to indicate acknowledgement or acceptance.

Correctly

In a correct manner;
He guessed right

Correct

A correct response.

Correct

(transitive) To make something that was wrong become right; to remove error from.
You'll need to correct your posture if you're going to be a professional dancer.
The navigator corrected the course of the ship.

Correct

To grade (examination papers).
The teacher stayed up all night correcting exams.

Correct

(transitive) To inform (someone) of their error.
It's rude to correct your parents.

Correct

(transitive) To discipline; to punish.

Correct

Set right, or made straight; hence, conformable to truth, rectitude, or propriety, or to a just standard; not faulty or imperfect; free from error; as, correct behavior; correct views.
Always use the most correct editions.

Correct

To make right; to bring to the standard of truth, justice, or propriety; to rectify; as, to correct manners or principles.
This is a defect in the first make of some men's minds which can scarce ever be corrected afterwards.

Correct

To remove or retrench the faults or errors of; to amend; to set right; as, to correct the proof (that is, to mark upon the margin the changes to be made, or to make in the type the changes so marked).

Correct

To bring back, or attempt to bring back, to propriety in morals; to reprove or punish for faults or deviations from moral rectitude; to chastise; to discipline; as, a child should be corrected for lying.
My accuser is my 'prentice; and when I did correct him for his fault the other day, he did vow upon his knees he would be even with me.

Correct

To counteract the qualities of one thing by those of another; - said of whatever is wrong or injurious; as, to correct the acidity of the stomach by alkaline preparations.

Correct

Make right or correct;
Correct the mistakes
Rectify the calculation

Correct

Make reparations or amends for;
Right a wrongs done to the victims of the Holocaust

Correct

Censure severely;
She chastised him for his insensitive remarks

Correct

Adjust or make up for;
Engineers will work to correct the effects or air resistance

Correct

Punish in order to gain control or enforce obedience;
The teacher disciplined the pupils rather frequently

Correct

Go down in value;
The stock market corrected
Prices slumped

Correct

Alter or regulate so as to achieve accuracy or conform to a standard;
Adjust the clock, please
Correct the alignment of the front wheels

Correct

Treat a defect;
The new contact lenses will correct for his myopia

Correct

Free from error; especially conforming to fact or truth;
The correct answer
The correct version
The right answer
Took the right road
The right decision

Correct

Socially right or correct;
It isn't right to leave the party without saying goodbye
Correct behavior

Correct

In accord with accepted standards of usage or procedure;
What's the right word for this?
The right way to open oysters

Correct

Correct in opinion or judgment;
Time proved him right

Common Curiosities

What does "correct" mean?

"Correct" is an adjective indicating that something is free from errors, accurate, or appropriate.

How is "correctly" used in a sentence?

"Correctly" is an adverb used to describe the manner in which an action is performed accurately or appropriately.

Can "correct" and "correctly" be used interchangeably?

No, because they serve different grammatical functions: "correct" is an adjective and "correctly" is an adverb.

Can "correctly" refer to moral correctness?

While typically related to accuracy or appropriateness, "correctly" can indirectly imply moral correctness in actions.

Give an example of "correctly" in a sentence.

"He pronounced the foreign words correctly after much practice."

Is "correct" always related to accuracy?

Primarily, yes, "correct" relates to being free from errors or in accordance with truth, though it can also imply suitability.

What is an example of "correct" used in a sentence?

"She gave the correct password to access the computer."

Does "correctly" imply a method or process?

Yes, "correctly" often refers to the manner or method of doing something in an accurate or appropriate way.

How do context and intent affect the use of "correct" and "correctly"?

Context and intent determine whether the emphasis is on the inherent correctness of a thing (using "correct") or on the accuracy of an action (using "correctly").

How does "correct" function in the phrase "politically correct"?

In "politically correct," "correct" denotes language or actions conforming to socially and morally acceptable standards.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at AskDifference.com, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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