Eliminate Adverbs. Improve Your Writing.

by Jamison Koehler on March 8, 2015

We all have our pet peeves when it comes to the English language.

I had an English teacher in college who offered a $1 million reward to anyone who could find a single instance in which use of the word “utilization” would be preferable to “use.”  As far as I know, this reward is still unpaid.

I had a boss in government who hated the word “address.”  To address a problem, he said, is such an imprecise and bureaucratic thing to say.  It covers the vast territory between solving a problem and ignoring it.

Someone else I know hates semi-colons. “You have two sentences,” he says.  “Get over it already!”

But my favorite quirk comes from my father, who detested adverbs.  Try writing without utilizing any adverbs; you will see how quickly you can address writing problems.  Eliminate adverbs.  Improve your writing.

6 Comments on “Eliminate Adverbs. Improve Your Writing.

  1. How do you feel about ending sentences with prepositions, Jamison?

  2. Geneva:

    I think prepositions are a terrible thing to end a sentence with. Right? Isn’t that what you were going for?

  3. Ending sentences with propositions is something up with which I will not put.

    (attributed to Winston Churchill)

    Seriously, though – all adverbs? Never and not are adverbs. Should you revise sentence to avoid negated verbs?

  4. Bookmoth: Of course I overstated things. I also overstated my father’s feelings toward things and the fact that he would never use words like “detest” or “despite” when “hate” would work just as well. It is not as though you can never use adverbs. But you should be very conscious about when you do.

  5. “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops.” Stephen King.

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