First, what is an adverb?
An adverb is a word used to modify a verb so that the meaning is changed:
- He looked at Jane.
- He looked menacingly at Jane.
- He looked lovingly at Jane.
Stared is the verb and menacingly and lovingly are adverbs.
Most (but not all) adverbs end in “ly”. Examples include quickly, helpfully, apprehensively, grumpily. The adverb adds more nuanced information to the verb.
- He gave her a ride home.
- He helpfully gave her a ride home.
- He apprehensively gave her a ride home.
- He grumpily gave her a ride home.
Each of those sentences paints a different picture because of the adverbs.
Note: where possible, we recommend replacing adverbs completely with strong, specific verbs. Read more about why you should avoid adverbs here.
Now, what is a redundant adverb?
An adverb is redundant if you use it to modify a verb with the same meaning in its definition.
- Tom shouted loudly at the taxi as it drove away.
It’s not possible to shout quietly so the word loudly is redundant.
- Anna smiled happily as she ate her ice cream.
Again, if Anna is smiling, we already know that she is happy.
Here are a few more examples of adverbs that repeat the meaning of the verb they’re trying to modify:
- On the queen’s death, the throne reverts back to the next male in line.
- The spooked horse bolted hastily across the field.
- His unfortunate nose protruded out over his upper lip.
- Steve whispered quietly to Susie and then tiptoed soundlessly off.
All of those words can be removed without altering the meaning of the sentence.
How to Find Redundant Adverbs
Use ProWritingAid’s Writing Style Report to highlight all of your redundant and overused adverbs.
Interested in other posts from our "Grammar School" series?
- Show, Don't Tell. What Do They Mean Anyway?
- What is a Cliché? And Why Should You Avoid Them?
- What are the Different Types of Verbs?
- What are Overused Words?
- What is POV? And How Do You Choose the Best POV for Your Story
- What is a Clause?