The Grammar GuideAdverbsWhy shouldn't you use the word "very" in your writing?

Why shouldn't you use the word "very" in your writing?

Why shouldn't you use the word "very" in your writing?

Many people overuse "very" in their writing. This is a mistake. "Very" is an intensifier without an inherent meaning. Many inexperienced writers use intensifiers like "very" or "really" to try to add power to their writing. This is a mistake.

Avoid using very in a sentence because it's a weak word that diminishes your meaning. There's not enough information in a word like "very" to tell your reader anything new. You're better off finding a stronger alternative.

Consider these sentences:

  • The very large dog's hackles rose.*
  • The monstrous dog's hackles rose.*

The second sentence uses a stronger adjective that relays more information to the reader. Replace your weak words with something strong enough that you don't need the "very."

Intensifiers like "very" are a part of speech, just like any other. Intensifiers are grammatically correct. However, overusing words like "very" is lazy writing.

Intensifiers are often used when a stronger verb or adjectivewould do a better job of conveying meaning:

  • He walked very quickly towards his mother.
  • He dashed towards his mother.

“Dashed” is a stronger, more evocative verb. “Dashed” also says the same thing in one word that “walked very quickly” says in two.

The same goes for adjectives: a strong noun or single adjective is better than a string of adverb descriptors.

Here's a great list to replace very + weak adjectives with strong adjectives that will pack a punch in your writing.

45 Ways to Avoid Using the Word Very

Don't depend on intensifiers to give your weak words power. Choose strong, specific language to strengthen your writing.

Dictionary Definition of very

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