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Adjectives and Adverbs- Friends or Foes?

Lately, I’ve been struggling a lot with overusing adverbs and adjectives; at least that’s what I’ve been hearing from my writing group.  The first few times someone mentioned it, I thought, oh I must have used too many in this chapter.  But as time has gone by, I’ve realized that I keep getting the same feedback.  This got me thinking, what’s wrong with too many adjectives and adverbs?

I started looking online for the answer to this question, which ended up being so simple, I was surprised I’d had such a hard time figuring it in the first place.  Maybe I’m the only one who has struggled with this problem, but I thought I’d share my conclusions all the same.

The Main Problem: Using an adjective or adverb often means you didn’t use a strong enough verb or noun in the first place.  Bingo.

Secondary Problem: Using too many adjectives and adverbs often “waters down” your sentences and makes them less powerful.


  • Poor Example: The car moved swiftly down the road.
  • Good Example: The car raced down the road.
    • This is an example of how using the right word is more powerful than two good words.
  • Poor Example: The child screamed loudly.
  • Good Example: The child screamed.
    • This is an example of how removing the adverb gives the sentence more power.

I hope this helped anyone who has been struggling with the same problem.  I know I’m excited to start applying this new knowledge to my own writing.

Also, my friend recommended this book to me, so I recently purchased it from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0446370290/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER

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  1. The Sunday Session – What Are Your Thoughts On…. « Poeta Officium

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