Adverbs Aren’t Always Your Friends

Why you Should Cut out the Adverbs

Adverbs can sometimes be helpful. Sometimes. On certain occasions you might want to insert an adverb here and there to style your writing but for the most part, adverbs should be used with caution. Using too many adverbs can leave your writing flat, repetitive, and cheesy. Take a look at the following example:

The girl smiled happily as she walked through the tall grass. Her dress flowed gently through the wind. With her eyes set on the horizon, she moved gracefully towards the setting sun. She didn’t know what to expect but she would face it all courageously.

By the time you get to the third adverb the story becomes dull. The adverbs are weighing down the flow of the paragraph and are not contributing to the meaning of the passage. Let’s see how the paragraph would sound without the adverbs:

The girl smiled as she walked through the tall grass. Her dress flowed behind her through the wind. With her eyes set on the horizon, she moved towards the setting sun. She didn’t know what to expect but she would face it all with courage.

Much better. Short, sweet, and to the point. Cutting adverbs from your writing can make your sentences shorter and more concise (key elements to good writing). Having less adverbs can also make your writing more diverse since you’ll be using less words that end in “ly.”

Yet, with this in mind, it’s important to recognize that adverbs can be helpful–sometimes.

How to Tell a Good Adverb from a Bad One

A good adverb is an adverb that adds meaning to your sentence. Take for example the following sentence:

The girl smiled happily.

Here, “happily” is acting as a bad adverb because it is not providing any new information. The verb “smiled” already implies that the girl is happy so the adverb “happily” is just taking up space.

Now, let’s say we replace “happily” with sadly.

The girl smiled sadly.

Now we have an adverb that is contributing new information to the sentence. In this case sadly acts as a good adverb. Adverbs are useful tools when used sparingly and correctly. The most important thing to remember about adverbs is that an adverb is most effective when it modifies a verb in a contradictory way, as was the case with “smiled sadly.”

I hope this helps. Happy adverb trimming. 🙂

Post submitted by–Gabriela

 

 

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