Posted by: episystechpubs | May 6, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Words to Use Instead of Very

Good morning, friends!

In most business writing, whether it be email, technical writing, or any correspondence to a client or professional colleague, we are advised to be brief—to be polite and friendly, but to get to the point so we don’t waste people’s precious time.

To this end, Kara and I have repeatedly recommended that you avoid unnecessary wordiness. We’ve talked about cutting out deadwood phrases like “due to the fact that,” “in order to,” and “at this point in time.”

We’ve recommended removing redundancies like “return back,” “meet together,” “small speck,” “imagine in your mind,” and “added bonus.”

We have even recommended that you sparingly use adverbs like absolutely, actually, completely, and essentially.

But today, I want to bring your attention to one special, overused adverb: very.

This is a particular pet peeve of mine, and I blame my little sister who has always had a tendency to exaggerate, but not creatively. Recently, she was stung by a wasp, and she said, “It hurts very, very, very, very much.”

And this is where I went wrong. I said, “Really? Four verys? I’m glad you didn’t get bitten by a rattle snake because you’ve used up all your verys.” And this is when she called me a name I cannot repeat. I can tell you, however, that our mom would be sorely disappointed in her, which I pointed out just before I heard the expletive and then the dial tone.

In my sister’s honor (even though she’s not currently speaking to me because she’s very, very angry), I’m sharing this list of alternative words you can use instead.

I hope you have a beautiful day!

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

Pronouns she/her/hers

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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