'Drive Safely' or 'Drive Safe': Which is Correct Usage?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on November 8, 2022

Is it ‘drive safely’ or ‘drive safe’? Which usage is correct? When it comes to certain phrases in the English language, you might find yourself stumped more than once, thanks to its complex rules. We’ll cover that and more in this article, so you never have to wonder if you’re saying it the right way again.

But the short answer is that it’s okay to use either or.

‘Drive Safe’ or ‘Drive Safely’ – Which Is It?

Technically, the answer (as you’ve seen above) is that they’re both correct. While it might be tempting to believe that ‘drive safely’ is correct, it’s actually acceptable to say ‘drive safe’ as well.

Which is Correct?

Both ‘drive safe’ and ‘drive safely’ are acceptable to use in the English language.

So, the next time someone corrects you, remind them that it’s okay to use both (just like phrases like ‘At the Office’ and ‘In the Office’), according to multiple sources.

Understanding Adverbs

In the term ‘drive safely,’ the word ‘safely’ is considered an adverb because it describes the verb ‘drive.’

An adverb is precisely that – a word that usually modifies (limit or restrict the meaning of) verbs.

It’s similar to an adjective is a describing word as well, but it usually tells us what kind, how many, or which kind of noun or pronoun we’re talking about.

Whereas adjectives usually describe an action by showing us how, when, where, and to what extent something happened.

Definition and Meaning

Before we dive into how to use the two terms correctly in a sentence, let’s quickly define the words ‘drive’ and ‘safe.’

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘drive’ is “to frighten or prod (game, cattle, etc.) into moving in the desired direction,” “to go through (an area) driving game animals,” “to carry on or through energetically,” “to impart a forward motion to by physical force,” “to repulse, remove, or cause to go by force, authority, or influence,” “to set or keep in motion or operation,” “basketball: to move quickly and forcefully down or along,” and “to direct the motions and course of (a draft animal).”

It also means “to operate the mechanism and controls and direct the course of (a vehicle),” “to convey in a vehicle,” “to float (logs) down a stream,” “to compel to undergo or suffer a change (as in situation or emotional state),” and “to urge relentlessly to continuous exertion.”

Merriam Webster’s definition of ‘safe’ is “free from harm or risk: unhurt,” “a secure from threat of danger, harm or loss,” “successful at getting to a base in baseball without being put out,” “affording safety or security from danger, risk, or difficulty,” “not a threatening danger,” “unlikely to produce controversy or contradiction,” “not likely to take risks: cautious.”

It’s also defined as “a place or receptacle to keep articles (such as valuables) safe.”

How to Use ‘Drive Safely’ and ‘Drive Safe’ in a Sentence

Now that you know the definitions of both words, we can talk about how to use ‘drive safely’ and ‘drive safe’ in a sentence correctly. Let’s take a look at some examples.

How to Use ‘drive safely’ in a sentence:

  • Don’t rush home; drive safely.
  • I drive safely whenever I get on the road.
  • Have a safe trip, and drive safely.
  • I always tell my son to drive safely, but he never listens.

How to use ‘drive safe’ in a sentence:

  • Get home safe; drive safe.
  • I always try to drive safe because you never know what’s coming just around the corner.
  • Drive safe, and you’ll make it home in one piece.
  • Grandpa loves to see young people drive safe on the roads.

Final Thoughts on ‘Drive Safely’ and ‘Drive Safe’

To recap, ‘drive safely’ and ‘drive safe’ are both acceptable phrases to use. There is no wrong answer here.

Just like phrases like ‘clever’ and ‘more cleverer,’ ‘In the Summer’ and ‘In Summer,’ and ‘Associated To’ and ‘Associated With,’ you don’t have to choose, unlike phrases like ‘simpler’ and ’more simple,’ where there’s only one correct answer.

Want to become a grammar god or goddess? Browse our library of confusing words to keep your mind sharp and ready to tackle any problem words or phrases with confidence and ease.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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