Adverbs: why you don’t need them

by | May 18, 2015

Adverbs, those extra descriptive words hanging around near their best-friend verbs, can be a pain in business writing.

My advice? Delete them all.

Too extreme? Try it. Take something you’ve written, and cross out all the adverbs. How does the writing look now? Shorter, of course, but probably simpler and clearer.

If you’re missing the colour and descriptive power that adverbs can add, try spicing up your choice of verbs. Don’t write ‘walked slowly’ – try ‘shuffled’. Instead of ‘ran quickly’ – ‘sprinted’ or ‘dashed’.

I realise I am over-generalising, and there’s a great article here that argues the opposing case.

In fact, I’d say that allowing a few adverbs in your writing is acceptable, but make sure they’ve earned their place on the page, and aren’t there just out of habit – or because you’re trying to make a boring subject sound more exciting than it really is.