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Bill Bergeman



Adverbs get a bad rap. Some writers believe adverbs are the hallmark of unimaginative writing. Yet, if we write something in a conversational tone, why would we not use adverbs? We generously pepper them throughout our speech all the time (see what I did there?), so it only makes sense to use them in our writing as well.

As with most good things, they can be overused. There are times when they can be replaced by better, more vivid words.

Some examples of not-so-good adverb usage:

  • He whispered [quietly] to her (redundant).
  • After running after him for 20 minutes, she [finally] quit (unnecessary filler).
  • It is [very] cold outside ("very cold" can be replaced by the more vivid term "freezing").

That said, in many cases, I'm happy to use adverbs. Unless I'm writing a Ph.D. thesis, I don't see a need to call in the Adverb Police.

Below are ten of my favorite adverbs. When used judiciously, they can add flavor and emotion to our writing.

    1. Truly.

    Example: Suzy truly loves how Tom looks in her eyes when they speak.

    2. Remarkably.

    Example: Her comments were made in remarkably poor taste.

    3. Seldom.

    Example: I seldom go to church.

    4. Clearly.

    Example: Clearly, you missed the point.

    5. Gracefully.

    Example: Mark gracefully applauds her decision.

    6. Often.

    Example: Jackie often chases after older men.

    7. Lovingly.

    Example: She lovingly places the flowers over his grave.

    8. Brutally.

    Example: Her singing is brutally out of tune.

    9. Unbelievably.

    Example: This speech is unbelievably long.

    10. Vivaciously.

    Example: The couple vivaciously dances around the room as if no one else is present.

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