Use the adjective "proper" when something is good or fits a situation. You can use this word to describe behavior, clothing, or your English.

  • It’s important to learn proper English grammar and usage.
  • A t-shirt and jeans aren’t proper attire for a funeral.
  • Theresa’s boss didn’t work with her in a proper manner, and now he’s in trouble.
  • It’s not proper to address the President of the United States by using only his first name.

To make the adverb form of this word, add an "ly" ending:

  • A properly worded resume will help you get an interview for a job.
  • Some of the fans watching the soccer match acted improperly during the game. (The prefix "im" makes this word negative.)
  • Maria is not dressed properly for this occasion.
  • Jose doesn’t speak English properly. He should take some classes.
  • If you behave properly at work, you won’t have to worry about losing your job.

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This page was first published on June 2, 2012. It was updated on February 20, 2016.