CASS Q&A: “Part suspended” versus “Partly suspended” on the London Underground

Last month, I received an interesting email about some terms that London commuters might be very familiar with:

We at London Underground currently operate the electronic service update board which indicates the real-time status of each of our lines. Most of customers are familiar and use it daily. We currently use the phrases – good service, severe delays and part suspended. I wonder how correct these phrases are; in particular should part be partly or partially?

After querying some corpora, I responded:

Traditional grammar would have it that a verbal form should not be modified by an adjective but an adverb. Thus, only “part suspended” is problematic. Modern grammarians would normally recommend that people follow customary practices. I checked the frequencies of “part suspended” and “partially suspended” in several large electronic databases. “Partially suspended” is always more frequent. In conclusion, “good service” and “severe delays” are fine, but go for “partially suspended” rather than “part suspended”.

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