Using Adverbs

60 Second Advice by Anne Brees

Adverbs are words that modify your verbs. A good clue whether a word is an adverb is if it ends in -ly. (Think quickly, loudly, happily, etc.) While a few adverbs in your writing is fine, you should avoid using them frequently. Adverbs tend to bog down your sentences. Every word you use is precious.

Generally if you have to use an adverb in your prose, it means that your verb is weak. Replace your sets of weak verbs and adverbs with a stronger word. (Replace “The man ran quickly. ” with “The man sprinted.”) You may also be using adverbs frequently if you are over explaining. (Over explaining: ‘shouted loudly’, ‘whispered quietly’, ‘snuck carefully’.) Don’t insult your readers. They don’t need you to dumb it down. 

You don’t have to remove every adverb from your writing, just try to avoid when possible.

What strategies do you have to stop using adverbs?


2 thoughts on “Using Adverbs

  1. Tiegan says:

    I generally just do what you suggested: replace weak verbs with stronger ones.

    Sometimes I really don’t care whether or not I’m using them, though, and just write. I can be picky later.


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