Adverbs can be a writer's friend, but they can also be a writer's worst nightmare. An adverb is a word that modifies the adjective or verb in a sentence, and sometimes they are necessary. However, most instances of adverbs can and should be deleted. Sometimes the adverb can be deleted and the sentence left alone. Other times, the author may choose to use a stronger verb.

For example, I can say, "I'm talking loudly." My adverb in this sentence is the word loudly. This word helps to describe how I'm talking. It's modifying the verb of "talk." In this case it's describing the volume of my words, but it could be describing any number of things such as the speed or timbre of my voice. Adverbs aren't terrible, but they tend to make your writing cluttered and a bit boring. In most cases, there is usually a better verb that could take the place of your adverb-verb combination. For example: I could say that "I shouted," or, "I screamed." Both of these are more concise and more to the point.

Another example is if I had a sentence that was talking about walking to class. Someone might write the sentence as, "I walked to class briskly." The adverb, briskly, is modifying the verb of "walk." While the sentence is technically fine, it's a little cluttered and not too interesting. You might try something like, "I sprinted to class," or, "I bolted to class after I heard the bell." Both of these are a bit more interesting and less cluttered than the use of the adverb briskly. Both of these new options really show how the student had to hurry. Sprinting and bolting imply a sense of urgency and helps the reader picture the scene a little bit better than by simply using the word “briskly” or another adverb that means the same thing.

Another mistake writers make has to do with redundancy. A lot of times adverbs stress the same feeling as the verb. For example, if I "run quickly." Both the verb and the adverb mean the same thing in this sentence. It's better to just say "run" or use the verb "sprint." Also, someone may say they "whispered quietly." Again, both the verb and the adverb in this sentence mean the same thing. The adverb adds nothing to the verb. It's better to just delete the adverb and stick the verb of "whisper."

Tips to avoid adverbs

  • Practice looking for adverbs and "ly" words when proofing your work

  • Try your hardest to find a verb that may relay your point a bit better, if you found an adverb that doesn't add too much to your point

  • Try to eliminate adverbs that are vague or tend to add very little to your writing

  • Sometimes you may need to describe a scene by taking out an adverb. Instead of saying, "I whispered quietly," you may say, "I whispered. The breathiness of my voice could not be detected, even from a few feet away."

  • Try your best to not use "very" or "little"

Sometimes adverbs are unavoidable and sometimes they are necessary but, as a while, adverbs are words that make our sentences cluttered and boring. To keep your writing consistently interesting and fun to follow these rules and tips while you're writing!

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