Wordly Wise

Musings of an infinite soul

Be careful of using adverbs

with 4 comments

Many writers employ adverbs (and sometimes adjectives too) in their attempt to add emphasis to their writing. What they don’t understand is that, more often than not, the use of these words weaken the effect of their writing. Take for instance the following sentence:

“Your draft is really appalling.”

In the above construction, the adverb “really”, instead of adding emphasis, is subtracting it. Think about it. Would you add “really” if you were sure of yourself? Now read the same sentence minus “really”.

“Your draft is appalling.”

How does it sound? Better? More emphatic? You bet! Why so? Because when you make an assertive statement like the one above, it reflects confidence.

Let’s take another example.

“I can’t believe it!”, said John surprisingly.

Is the adverb surprisingly needed?

“I can’t believe it!”, said John.

Is “surprise” not implied in the words “I can ‘t believe it!”?

So be careful of using adverbs. Rely on stronger verbs and nouns instead. Follow this advice and you minimise your chances of someone saying to you that “Your draft is appalling.”


Written by Manoj Khatri

22 July 2006 at 10:46 am

Posted in On Writing

4 Responses

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  1. I like this theme way better than the earlier one! Its nice and bright, the earlier one was a trifle gloomy.


    22 July 2006 at 9:54 pm

  2. Yup Nidhi. I am in an experimenting mode just now. Somehow I don’t quite like any of the themes on wordpress, so I am making do with what is available. This is the theme I started off with, and I am back to it for now.

    Manoj Khatri

    23 July 2006 at 9:48 am

  3. And shouldn’t the title read: ” Be careful while using adverbs”?


    23 July 2006 at 6:56 pm

  4. I think it “could”, not “should”.

    Manoj Khatri

    23 July 2006 at 9:15 pm

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