Why Adverbs are Like Wine – Overindulging Can Be Scary for Your Content Writing

Posted on June 10, 2014 by Tracy S

wine

For many, nothing is better on a quiet Friday night than catching up on a favorite TV show on Netflix and enjoying a glass of wine or two. However, drink too much and you will find yourself in less-than-stellar shape the next morning. Adverbs are similar—a few here and there give your content writing a little extra sparkle but too many weaken your prose and may make it more difficult to accomplish your content goals. These tips can help you achieve more with the adverbs you use.

  • While many adverbs do end in LY, they all do not. That means you need to keep an eye out for hidden adverbs to avoid overuse. Some of the most commonly used are what are called FLAT adverbs. These adverbs are also adjectives. However, they are used to describe a verb. Some examples include: drive slow, jump high and run fast.
  • Using adverbs minimally brings significance to the ones you do use. You want to use them in the spots that will give you the biggest impact. You don’t want to eliminate them altogether, but using them occasionally brings just the right spice to your writing.
  • When you do use an adverb in your content, spend some time deciding on the right one. After all, is VERY, very important to the meaning of your sentence?
  • When you are going over a final review of your piece, check for adverbs and see if there is a way to rewrite the sentence without an adverb. In many cases, if this is true, you should eliminate it.
  • Often, adverbs are included because the verb is weak alone. Check and see if you can find a better verb that will help keep you from needing the adverb.
  • Watch for redundancies when you are using adverbs. For instance, writing “the cat creeps stealthily” is redundant since creeping is a way of moving stealthily.
  • Two of the biggest crutch adverbs are “very” and “really.” Removing these from your writing is one of the easiest ways to tighten up you prose.
  • Do not remove all your adverbs. While as a general rule they are overused, removing all of them will make your writing dull and one-dimensional.

While a well-placed adverb is a welcome addition to most content, too many will have you suffering from adverb hangover. Enjoy in moderation! After all, as Stephen King said: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”

Tracy S is a content writer and blogger who specializes in home improvement related topics. When she’s not working, Tracy loves playing pool, watching cheesy reality TV, spending time with her family and dreaming of the beach.


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