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VERYLittle Added Meaning

Posted by Val Fox on April 26, 2012 at 12:25 AM

  While the word ‘very’ is commonly used and even listed in word use references, I avoid this intensifier whenever possible unless it adds to a character’s speech (Thank you very much.) Be prudent when using ‘very’ before adverbs and adjectives, as it’s somewhat redundant and unnecessary if you use a strong adjective.


Examples include: very specific meaning (specific is specific, no?)

A better choice for very hungry could be famished.

Very tired means exhausted.                                                                          


Using the word ‘very’ to emphasize meaning wastes words without adding more information. Most sentences sound crisper and cleaner without it. In E.L. Callihan’s Grammar For Journalists, he states “as a rule the use of ‘very’ before an adjective is unnecessary…in The pears were very rotten, the adverb very adds nothing to the meaning.”


Do not use ‘very’ with adjectives that already express an increased quality in the meaning. An example would be: The ice is very frigid or The very large elephant sprayed me with water.


Hope this blog wasn’t too dry for your taste. We looked at the letter V today as part of the April 2012 A to Z Blog Challenge. We’ve almost completed the alphabet, writing a blog each day for 26 days. Tomorrow’s blog will include the letter “W.” Thanks for visiting.



“So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.”


                                                                                                   -John Keating, Dead Poet’s Society



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This is the personal website of writer Val Fox from Alberta, Canada: soon-to-be published author; freelance writer/editor; ghost writer; animal and child advocate; amateur photographer and avid camper.  Welcome!


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