Posted by: episystechpubs | January 3, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Don’t get your adverbs here!

For those of you who remember Schoolhouse Rock, you might recall being told to “unpack your adjectives” and to go to Lolly, Lolly, Lolly to “get your adverbs here.” Today, I have some different advice for you now that you are living in the world of business writing. To be a lean, mean writing machine, here is a list of adverbs to use sparingly.

· absolutely · minimally
· actually · obviously
· approximately · particularly
· basically · perhaps
· certainly · please
· completely · pretty
· definitively · quite
· essentially · significantly
· extremely · simply
· generally · somewhat
· hugely · strongly
· just · very
· mainly · virtually

When you are writing, ask yourself: “Does this word add to the meaning of what I am trying to say?”

For example, words like “essentially,” “basically,” “generally,” “mainly,” “perhaps,” “pretty,” and “somewhat” are wimpy words! These words are often used to avoid committing to a statement, such as “I’m pretty sure she took your pen,” or “My project is essentially complete.” What a bunch of wishy-washiness!

Other words, such as “absolutely,” “certainly,” “definitively,” “extremely,” “hugely,” “obviously,” “particularly,” “strongly,” and “very” are the opposite of non-committal. These adverbs are strong and definite, but they don’t add a lot to what you are saying, except a few more syllables and a little redundancy. For example, “This project is hugely important.” Isn’t it enough that the project is important? Will you pay less attention to its importance without the word “hugely” there?


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