I’m back in the Sports Illustrated Tennis Mailbag, this time with a grammatical gripe!
Dear Jon, I got a bone to pick with tennis players, especially American and British tennis players. My beef is simple: the pervasive misuse of the adjective “aggressive” in our beloved sport. You can be aggressive, but you do not play aggressive—you play aggressively! I understand if non-native speakers don’t realize the distinction (Rafa is especially fond of leaving off the -ly) but in your podcast with Jared Donaldson, he says, “play aggressive” (10:08 mark). He was talking about Rafa, so perhaps it’s contagious. Jared’s not alone—John Isner’s guilty as well. And it doesn’t help that even journalists are making this error: “Q. This match, Jelena played very aggressive.” Granted, these writers may be foreign, but still. We need to aggressively rescue this adverb from further grammatical degradation!
—Sung, Washington, N.J.
Read Jon Wertheim’s response!