‘Live happy’ is the theme of Cityplaza’s summer activities this year. (Cityplaza is a major shopping mall in Hong Kong.)
Pedagogical grammar, as it is practised in Hong Kong, would have us say, and teach if we’re teachers, ‘Live happily’ – Use an adverb of manner after a Verb phrase that denotes an activity. So, is ‘Live happy’ acceptable? But hang on – Why does it sort of sound OK even though it has apparently flouted a grammar rule? Is there another grammar rule that I’m not aware of? What if the sentence appears in a student’s composition?
Other than the advertising intention (‘Live happy’ being more ‘ear-catching’ than ‘Live happily), there can be times when such flouting/stretching of conventional grammar rules becomes not only acceptable, but praiseworthy. It allows us to convey a nuance of meaning which cannot be expressed if we follow the traditional grammar rule (e.g., I’m loving it). That’s why my belief is that grammar instruction needs to be complemented with language awareness training.