Ranked High vs. Highly

Here’s a sentence I encountered today:

Original Sentence:
Miscible flooding ranked [high / highly] as a potential EOR method in the screening study.

“High” is an adjective that needs to modify a noun, whereas “highly” is an adverb that needs to modify a verb. If we use the adjective, “high” would describe “miscible flooding.” If we use the adverb, “highly” would describe “ranked.” Based on grammar alone, I would tend to go with “highly.”

But consider some analogues, if you will.

Analogue #1:
Miscible flooding ranked [first / firstly] as a potential EOR method in the screening study.
You certainly wouldn’t say “firstly” here. You would use the adjective “first” and not the
adverb.

Analogue #2:
Miscible flooding appeared [high / highly] as a potential EOR method in the screening study.
You wouldn’t use “highly” here, either. You would use the adjective.

So “ranked” in our original sentence is used as a linking verb, much like “appeared” in Analogue #2. Therefore the adjective “high” could be used on the other end of it, modifying the subject.

Analogue #3:
Miscible flooding remained [high / highly] as a potential EOR method in the screening study.
Again, the linking verb “remained” would require the adjective “high” after it.

So, let’s go with “high” instead of “highly” in our original sentence.

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Famous Quote of the Day:

“The one thing you can’t do when you’re highly ranked is relax.”
William Floyd, American politician, 1734-1821

[Editor’s note: here “highly” is an adverb modifying the passive verb “are ranked.”]
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