'Think Different' or 'Think Differently'?

Think different, the popular advertisement slogan of the Apple Computer Inc, was created by the American advertising agency TBWA in 1997.

Published: 14th March 2016 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th March 2016 01:57 PM   |  A+A-

Think different, the popular advertisement slogan of the Apple Computer Inc, was created by the American advertising agency TBWA in 1997. The ‘Think Different’ campaign was a huge success for Apple and Steve Jobs. It was widely said to be the Apple Computer’s response to IBM’s motto “Think”.   The slogan has prompted a reader in Bangalore to send in this query: “Is ‘Think different’ grammatically correct? Shouldn’t the phrase be ‘Think differently’?” 

Think Different.jpgIs the slogan ‘Think different’ grammatically correct? ‘Think differently’ is perfect because the verb ‘think’ is followed by the adverb ‘differently’. It is based on the rule that to describe action verbs we should use adverbs. Look at these examples: John ran fast. Mary sang well. In these examples, the adverbs ‘fast’ and ‘well’ are used to talk about the verbs ‘run’ and ‘sing’ respectively. These adverbs are just answers to the question ‘how’ or ‘in what way’? Adverbs, which describe verbs, perform a wide variety of functions as in the examples below:

1. Sheela always comes late to the class.  (When?)

2. Aldeesh walks rapidly. (How?)

3. Madhu dances gracefully. (In what way?)

4. It is terribly cold in December. (To what extent?)

In the slogan ‘Think different’, is the word ‘different’ treated as an adjective or an adverb? If it is treated as an adverb, then the slogan is grammatically correct. According to Merriam Webster dictionary (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/different) the word ‘different’ is an adjective as well as adverb. The word has been used as an adverb with the meaning ‘differently’ since 1744.

To justify the grammatical point explained above, here is a beautiful quote: “Read different to think differently; world is already into rat race.”— Aman Jassal. Here ‘read different’ means ‘read differently’. What is the justification for the slogan ‘Think big’? Shouldn’t ‘bigly’ be used instead of ‘big’ in the slogan? Though ‘bigly’ is the adverbial form of ‘big’, it is not widely used. Is ‘big’ an adjective or an adverb? ‘Big’ is an adjective but it can be used as an adverb too. Look at these examples:  

1. He always talks big about his position. (in a boastful way)

2. I’m sure you will make it big with the recent success you have tasted. (with considerable success)

3. Since we failed big last year, we don’t want to organize the event this year. (thoroughly)

 Another famous and successful ad campaign was Think Small which was created for the Volkswagen by Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) ad agency in 1959.  In this slogan too the word ‘small’ is used as an adverb and not as an adjective. Shakespeare too has used the word ‘small’ as an adjective: “Speak as small as you will.”  Copywriters enjoy artistic or poetic license which means the privilege they have to alter the conventions of grammar or language.  If established writers violate grammar rules, it is called poetic license and if ordinary people do so, they are branded ‘uneducated’.

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