Tag Archives: adverbs

Adverbs: Are They Necessary?

I’m not advising you to avoid all adverbs. But so often adverbs are no more than fillers or result in redundancy. Take a look at these:

ALSO:  “In addition, Ronnie is also attending the conference.” In addition/also?  Choose one.

PERSONALLY: If you write, “Personally, I don’t care for pineapple,” you are being redundant.

SIGNIFICANTLY:  When you write that “the horse’s weight dropped significantly,” you are not conveying useful information. Be specific. How much weight did the horse lose?

CURRENTLY: Writing that “Edward is currently living in Chicago,” is redundant.

LITERALLY: You know this is a big annoyance for me; I’ve already written a post or two about it.  It means something actual. If you say someone was “literally blown away by the news,” I expect to see socks and shoes spinning through the air in addition to the body.

ABSOLUTELY: This word adds no meaning. “We were absolutely stunned by the birth of quadruplets” doesn’t make your amazement any stronger. Either you were stunned or you weren’t.

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Thoughts About Adverbs

Hopefully, actually, basically, amazingly, fundamentally, surprisingly, significantly, essentially—these are all common ways to begin a sentence, and you can throw them out. My favorite story about “actually” is from a friend whose young granddaughter started many sentences with that word.  Her grandmother asked her what “actually” meant, and Nicole thought about it and finally answered, “Actually, I don’t know.”

Adverbs can be redundant. There is no need for a band to blare loudly. Is there any other way to blare?  Do you clench your teeth tightly?  Laugh happily?  Weep sadly?  Are you totally amazed?  Can you be partially amazed?  Isn’t that like being partially pregnant?

When you use an adverb, determine whether it is doing any work. Does it contribute to the meaning of your sentence? If not, cut it out. It’s deadwood.

Adverbs (novel)

Adverbs (novel) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Filed under All things having to do with the English language