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Why Adverbs Stink (and the Magic of Editing)

How to use adverbsImagine readers hippety-hopping through your content.

An autumn breeze plays with their hair. You notice a twinkle in their eye.

Sound good, doesn’t it?

Now, picture the sun hiding behind an ink black cloud. Your readers start to trudge. Their shoes feel heavy. Squelch. Sploosh. Squelch. Sploosh.

Not the kind of experience you want to create, huh?

Still it happens all the time.

Lazy editing makes readers trudge. They get tired. They start skimming your content, or worse: they might click away.

And the muckiest words making your readers drag, plod, and toil? Those are adverbs. As bestselling author Stephen King has said:

The road to hell is paved with adverbs ~ Stephen King (tweet this)

But why are adverbs so bad? And do they always stink?

To use adverbs correctly, you must understand two types of adverbs.

Shall I explain?

The first type of adverbs almost always stinks

This type of adverbs modifies verbs.

For instance:

Henneke walked quickly.

The explanation of Ms. Grammar:

  • The word “walked” is a verb because it describes what Henneke does.
  • The word “quickly” describes how she walked. Therefore, “quickly” modifies the verb “walked,” so it’s an adverb.

Why writers should care:

When you delete the word “quickly,” you change the meaning of the sentence. “Henneke walked” doesn’t mean the same as “Henneke walked quickly.”

So, instead of crossing out the word “quickly,” you can replace the word “walk” to paint a more precise and vivid picture:

  • Henneke hurried.
  • Henneke ran for her life.
  • Henneke sprinted.
  • Henneke jogged.
  • Henneke sped ahead like a hungry hyena spotting an antelope.

When an adverb modifies a verb, you can almost always remove the adverb and pick a more accurate verb:

  • She spoke softly—She whispered; she mumbled.
  • She said loudly—She barked; she yelled; she screamed; she shrieked.
  • She said jokingly—She joked.
  • She worked really hard—She slaved; she labored; she toiled.

Be careful when using adverbs to modify verbs. Always check whether you can use a more accurate verb on its own instead of a verb + adverb.

The second type of adverbs can be sweet-smelling or stinky

This type of adverb modifies an adjective.

Let’s look at an example:

Henneke is a very crazy girl.

The explanation of Ms. Grammar:

  • Nouns refer to people or things, so the word “girl” is a noun.
  • Adjectives describe what people or things are like, so the word “crazy” is an adjective.
  • “Very” describes how crazy Henneke is, so it’s modifying the adjective “crazy,” and that means “very” is an adverb.

Why writers should care:

The word “very” doesn’t help you paint a clear picture, and that’s why it’s a mucky adverb.

When you delete “very” you might feel that the remaining sentence, “Henneke is a crazy girl,” isn’t strong enough. And this is where the magic of editing happens. Look for a stronger expression and add zing to your writing. For instance:

  • Henneke is nutty as a fruitcake.
  • Henneke is bonkers.
  • Henneke is looney.
  • Henneke is dippy.

Take your pick. Which version suits your voice best?

Not all adverbs stink

Look at a random page on Apple’s website, and you’ll see their copy is riddled with adverbs.

Sometimes an adverb adds stress (adverbs in bold):

An elegant form thatโ€™s exceptionally strong.
Apple Pencil instantly recognizes when you are pressing harder or shifting its angle.

Sometimes an adverb helps paint a clearer picture:

That extreme resolution (โ€ฆ) makes everything from photo editing to intense 3D games more vivid and deeply engaging.
Despite having 78 percent more display area than iPad Air 2, iPad Pro feels reassuringly solid in the hand.

Sometimes an adverb is used for rhythm or repetition:

The speakers in iPad Pro arenโ€™t just high fidelity, theyโ€™re highly intelligent.

So, when can you use adverbs?

Adverbs left carelessly in sentences are almost always mucky. In contrast, adverbs chosen with care are fine. Choose them to paint a more precise or more vivid picture. Compare these two versions:

Her friend is really beautiful.

The adverb “really” is meaningless and can be deleted.

Her friend is breathtakingly beautiful.

The adverb “breathtakingly” adds stress and paints a more vivid version, so you can decide to leave it, or opt for “Her friend is gorgeous.” Both versions are fine. Choose the version that suits your voice and rhythm.

The 4 enchanting rules for adverbs

  1. If you delete an adverb and the meaning of a sentence doesn’t change, remove it.

  2. If you delete an adverb and the sentence weakens, try finding a stronger expression.

  3. If an adverb modifies a verb, try picking a more accurate verb and delete the adverb.

  4. When in doubt, delete your adverb.

The art of good writing

Good writers aren’t sprinters.

They choose each and every word with care.

They know the rules. But they also know how to break the rules. Deliberately. Determinedly. Emphatically.

Remember to have fun and play with your words. ๐Ÿ™‚

Comments

  1. This article is an eye opener to me.

  2. Excellent post, thank you Henneke! You add value to my life ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Mark Farrelly says:

    Henneke,
    As always, your words are ENCHANTING! As well as engaging, alluring and captivating. (All adverbs I know, but good ones.)
    I shall drift off to sleep with your wise words dancing through my mind tonight. (It is night where I am.)
    And tomorrow, I shall promise, once again, to apply to my writing, what you tell me to do!
    Thanks for all you do. Thanks for caring. Thanks for writing. Thanks for sharing. You inspire people more than you possibly imagine! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Mark.

      By the way, engaging, alluring, and captivating are adjectives. Those can be bad, too, but not as bad as adverbs. And in this case, I like them all! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Hope you’re having sweet dreams about readers hippety-hopping through your content with a smile on their face ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Mark Farrelly says:

        Sorry Henneke, my bad! Of course they are adjectives and not adverbs. (I will claim being tired!)
        ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Jon Burnham says:

    ‘Very’ good Henneke as always. Exceptionally clean writing. Clearly explained. Goodly done.

    Thank you.

  5. Hi Henneke,
    Back with another blockbuster, huh?
    Love the visual imagery of your opening.
    You didn’t just say why it was wrong, but how to correctly use it, if need be. The editing tips are so welcome.
    Thanks for a great post.

    Ruth

    • To be honest, I was prepared for a deafening silence, because I wasn’t sure whether people would be interested in an article about adverbs. It sounds a bit like going back to school, doesn’t it?

      Glad you enjoyed this one!

      • Hi Henneke

        If truth be told and tons of writing reveal it, some of us didn’t get it the first time around. Since grammar is abstract refreshers are always welcome. Hint. The best grammar book hasn’t been written yet.

        P.S. I found a handy trick. When I edit and see a word with “ly” stuck on the end I wonder what it’s doing there. The word not the โ€œlyโ€. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Cheers

        • Yep, that’s an excellent trick! Thank you for adding that, Curtis ๐Ÿ™‚

          What other grammar topics should a grammar book cover? I know you want me to write one ๐Ÿ˜‰ But I’m not sure I’m up for writing it. At least not yet. Perhaps try a few more grammar-focused blog posts first.

  6. Great article. Straight to the point.

    I must admit I have an itty bitty adverb problem myself. At least my first drafts are often packed with adverbs. Thanks for the 4-point-checklist. I’m going to apply this to the website copy I’m writing right away. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Chris recently posted…5 Fehler, die auch Sie vermutlich auf Ihrer รœber-uns-Seite machenMy Profile

    • But that’s exactly what first drafts are for! You’ve not seen how crappy my first draft are. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Lee Miller says:

    Fantastic insights and guidance. Your awesomeness continues. Thank you Henneke. Love. Love. Love your juicy posts. โค๏ธ

  8. Sharing this with my kids. It should be required reading in English class ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Thank you Henneke. I sometimes feel like I’m trudging through my writing. I will check to see if it’s the adverb issue. I love the advice about finding a stronger word to replace the adverb and verb. It’s difficult at times to come up with the precise word. Would you suggest using a thesaurus for this?
    Kelly recently posted…Living an Authentic Life: A Tribute to Teresa RevisitedMy Profile

    • Yep, I use a thesaurus quite often. I sometimes find that I use the same words too often, and a thesaurus can help find alternatives.

      • Karen Doll says:

        I also use a thesaurus quite often too. I believe all writers at some point can say that they find themselves using the same words and expressions too often. Being aware is half the battle! Thank you once again for your enchanting article about weeding out those sneaky unnecessary adverbs. Perhaps it’s not the writer’s fault at all. Perhaps all those extraordinarily sneaky adverbs that pop up in our copy are the result of alien influence-aliens have infiltrated all writer’s computers throughout the world, unbeknownst to us, and when we tap tap tap on our keyboards, our fingers unnaturally tap out unnecessary adverb after adverb! Ha Ha

  10. Another enlightening post, Henneke!
    Adverbs shall fear my delete key.
    Thank you.
    Chris.

  11. Henneke – exceptional and crisp as always. I saved the post to use again later – like brushing my teeth or making my bed, scrubbing my writing for pesky adverbs is something I must do every day. Otherwise, they sneak back in there. Do you have a recommended app or software (e.g., Hemingway app?) to help identify them? Some of us, many years past grammar class, could use the help of software that highlights them for us…so we could then search and destroy.

    I enjoy seeing your posts pop up in my feed! Such a great service you offer
    Marnรฉ

    • The Hemingway app is pretty good. I find it a little too prescriptive – they suggest to eliminate all adverbs (I think). If you use the app to find adverbs and then decide what action you want to take (leave, delete, or replace), then it can be useful.

      Thank you for stopping by!

      • I have a problem I am not quite sure how to solve. I need to write my blog about a horrible topic – child abuse and neglect. I am writing for a fantastic group of volunteers. We raise funds to meet the needs of these young victims of maltreatment. How do I apply your suggestions for making the blog light-hearted and interesting, but at the same time make my message urgent and clear? Does every blog have to be a story?

        • Not every blog post has to be light-hearted and not every blog post needs to be a story. Try thinking about your volunteers. How can you help them and keep them motivated? Which questions do they have that you can answer? How would you talk to them in a face-to-face conversation?

  12. Hi Henneke,

    Really great post here.

    The person who is very interested in improving their writing skills, a post like this tells a lot to me. Me that I desperately need to spend more time in the editing stage than I currently do.

    I know for a fact that my problem is I just get lazy and choose those week adverbs to relay my point and I just never return to correct it.

    But that’s pretty much miscues and I know to be a better writer I have to make the sacrifices that I needed to edit properly. And that definitely means no longer take a shortcuts with particular ad verbs and that using adverbs meaningful and dynamic.

    Excellent stuff as always, Henneke.

    – Andrew
    Andrew recently posted…Reader Discussion: What Do You Blog About?My Profile

    • Yeah, I’m the opposite. I hate writing first drafts and I can spend all day long editing my content. I find editing so much more enjoyable ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Thanks Henneke, for this breathtakingly useful post.

  14. Henneke, you are a true master! Your lessons always surprise and delight your audience, but this one is especially good. Who knew adverbs were worthy of such deep consideration? I especially appreciate the ultra-specific examples you provide. As many others have said, “Thank you for all you do!”
    Kara Werner recently posted…3 Insights about YOU (and your team)My Profile

  15. I’ve become a ruthless editor. Thanks to you. Now my writing is more tight, crisp. And (I hope) it goes straight to my readers’ heart.
    I enjoy writing now. A huge change from my school days, when I loathed it.

    • I hated essay writing at school, too. And I wasn’t good at it either. Dutch (my native language) and English were my worst subjects!

  16. I have always had problems with adverbs. I use them too much and even I know I don’t have to I still use them. With this post I have a much clearer paint about this thread.

    Just loved the way you explaind what kind of adverbs exists and how to remove or change them for something better. I will follow your advices.

    Thank u Henneke!

    PD: sorry for my English, instead I’ve studied English here (Spain) since I was a child my writing has become terrible in the last years. I have to practice much more ๐Ÿ™‚
    Javi Pastor recently posted…Seed Keywords: herramienta SEO para encontrar keywords imposiblesMy Profile

  17. Dear Henneke,
    Here I am, enjoying myself hippety-hopping through your enchanting writings. Just to go with your words and never ever return to my daily struggle, digging deep, trudging to find the right words. The right words for what? Somewhere on the way to learn to write I lost my purpose and passion. After reading this post I am inspired by the word hippety-hopping. It hit me. I am born for hippety-hopping. Trudging makes me feel a shame of my writing. With newfound inspirations and tips due to this post I will start writing again. Hopefully one day somebody will hippety-hopp through my writing. Thank you, Henneke.

    • I think readers notice it when you write with enthusiasm or when you’re finding writing a pain. Having fun when writing (or editing!) will inject more passion into your writing.

      Don’t ever feel ashamed of your writing. Try to spot why you don’t like it and then try to improve it. Reviewing articles you like and emulating their style and structure, can also help. I hope you’ll soon enjoy your writing again!

  18. Dear Ms. Grammar,

    I wish you were my teacher when I struggled in grammar school to learn the rules of un-mucky writing. (I was more of an art and science kid.)

    Thanks again for another enchanting lesson. (How much muck can you put in a comment?) ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Marlene Hielema recently posted…By: Marlene HielemaMy Profile

  19. Patricia Haag says:

    Henneke – I loved this post! Thank you for clarifying adverbs; I will refer back this post often.

    Question for you on blogging style. I see a lot of blogs these days where every sentence stands on its own, as if it’s a paragraph. Most of your post is that way, also. Is that the current style to make posts easier to read?

    Patricia Haag

    • Most of the time, I try to have one-sentence paragraphs in the opening of the post because it makes it feel like readers breeze through the content with ease. Then the main body has paragraphs of a few sentences, unless I want to stress a specific sentence (if I want to stress a single sentence, I create a one-sentence paragraph). In the final paragraph, I usually have one-sentence paragraphs again. It might be that I’ve been following this routine less recently. I’ll have a look!

      The layout of this post feels a bit messy with so many bullet points.

  20. I wondered what it said about me that I clicked open a post about adverbs with gleeful anticipation. Not many people could make an adverb tutorial both educational and fun but as usual Henneke, you succeeded.

    • Yes, I was wondering about this, too. I thought the word “adverb” in the subject line would frighten off a lot of people, but I was hoping that the word “stink” would make up for that ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thank you for your kind words, Carole. Always good to see you!

  21. Another illuminating lesson. Thanks Henneke.

  22. Laura Wooten says:

    Exceptional stuff, Henneke (edited from: really love your stuff). I aspire to be you when I grow up!

    Question: Do you do the illustrations yourself?

  23. Tom Harms says:

    Henneke,
    Great tips. The use of boring adverbs is a waste of paper. The average reader has become immune to the lazy, standard adverbs, and generally walks away with the image of a boring ‘blah, blah, blah’ conversation.
    Thanks for the lesson on adding a little spice to our writing.

  24. Henneke:

    Every piece of your digestible content has been delectible and this is no exception. You’re just toooooo good!
    I think Hemingway allows 3 but I usually want to keep mine…now I may have to rethink…well…everything.
    I had been reading your work for quite sometime before getting on the list to digest and oh my goodness…just more proof of why I love your stuff. Thank you, Henneke.

    • You can keep a few adverbs – you just have to decide which adverbs are a little stinky and which are quite fragrant ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thank you for your kind words, Sue-Ann. Nice to “meet” you here!

  25. Cool!
    Kitty Kilian recently posted…Wat is de clou van echt succesvolle storytelling?My Profile

  26. I could literally visualize running like a hungry hyena, Henneke. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thank God for some nice adverbs. I have to try this in my next blog post.
    Vatsala Shukla recently posted…5 Tips to manage Time TargetsMy Profile

  27. Hey Henneke,

    Great advice here. You’re the second person that have talked about adverbs in this manner. I have been slowly but sure adding adverbs with care as you suggested, but if I’m in doubt then I just get rid of it because sometimes to me it just sounds redundant.

    Thanks for the advice Henneke! Have a good one!
    Sherman Smith recently posted…Blogging Strategies: 6 Extremely Powerful Fail-Proof TipsMy Profile

    • Editors hate the overuse of adverbs, so I’m not surprised you’ve come across other posts discussing how to use adverbs in moderation.

      Thank you for stopping by, Sherman.

  28. Yes! I was excited to see this, Henneke.
    However, about half-way through, I frowned. Hmm…
    How could this little Dutch girl be teaching ME new things in MY language?! Ha!
    But you were, and you have, and more than once.
    Thanks for your bravery, risking what you thought might not be popular, but only for our good. Like a mom, that way. <3
    Katharine recently posted…My Friendโ€™s New Book!My Profile

    • In a way, it might be easier to analyze and write about a language that’s not your mother tongue. I still look at the English language with fresher eyes than people who grew up with English. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Glad you were excited about this one!

  29. Elvire Smith says:

    Hey Henneke,
    You know, after 7 years of English in high school, then working for a company fir 6 years where English was equally used as Dutch, I thought I spoke pretty good English. Next, marrying my American husband and living in the US helped me to expand my English even further, being assured by many that my English was much better than the average American. Wonderful.
    Next, moving to Australia, I thought I did not speak not understood English at all. I adjusted my language in the 3 years on the Gold Coast.
    Now, living some 21 years in English speaking countries and being a constantly developing copywriter, you teach me ever so much more about English, more than I ever imagined. And I love it, you teach me how to use English better and better. Say it better and with less words. Let them sing and dance, let them paint a vivid picture so they may engage and entertain and persuade!!
    THANK YOU, Henneke, I so appreciate you! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • And I guess the English spoken on the Gold Coast is quite different from American English, too.

      I’ve found the Americans more complimentary about my English than the Brits. Perhaps the Americans are more used to different accents?

      • Yes, we are more used to lots of mixed accents, but also, we have a sort of different viewpoint, of all being in this boat together, helping each other pull self up by the bootstraps, acutely aware of our own “foreign” roots, struggling to make it all work. We appreciate anyone who commits to learning one of the more difficult languages in the world, however successfully. We do not think we invented English, but some of us actually know how to speak it. ๐Ÿ˜‰
        Katharine recently posted…My Friendโ€™s New Book!My Profile

  30. Elvire Smith says:

    PS did you notice the error? Or is this on purpose to see if we are awake??

    The adverb โ€œbreaktakinglyโ€ adds stress and paints a more vivid version, so you can decide to leave it, or opt for โ€œHer friend is ..

    BREAKtakingly??? Is that a new word?????

    LOL

    Thanks for being my English mentor! ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. Yeah, I know. Stephen King suggested editing with a heavy marker to cross out superfluous words. Or with a knife to whittle down your manuscript to the bare minimum. What you’re left with is pure. Like scraping garnish off good steak.
    Kenneth Lim recently posted…โ€˜Mad Max: Fury Roadโ€™ Will Have Two More Sequels, Indicates DirectorMy Profile

    • I love that comparison with the steak. Why spoil a good steak with garnish or a far too creamy sauce? I like my steak pure, too!

  32. I had a writing teacher tell me that verbs are the workhorses of vocabulary. Instead of choosing an adverb to brighten up some boring verb, choose the right verb! That’s always been told repeatedly…. ahem, drummed into my head.

  33. Cherie Eifler says:

    Wonderful post! Thank you so much. I particularly loved the examples of replacement with a stronger verb. My writing and even my edits tend to be “more than is needed” to convey my message, and adverbs could be a major contributor to the muck. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • What helps me to tighten my writing, is to wait a day between writing a first draft and editing it. It’s easier to see what words to cut when you’ve created some “distance” and are able to look at the sentences with fresh eyes.

      Happy writing!

  34. I love learning from you Henneke and some of it is beginning to sink in…I find myself saying more by writing less and getting rid of those useless adverbs helps …and I adore your sketches, especially the cycling ones..

    • Thank you for your compliment on my sketches, Joan. I find bicycles still difficult to draw!

      Lovely to hear you feel your writing is improving ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. Now that 5 minute grammar lesson was really helpful. I always thought adjectives and adverbs were the same thing. Duh! I will be on constant lookout in future. Thank you Henneke

  36. Hey lady! I like the illustrations adding spice to the introduction to this lesson. The cartoon features looks like you! At least to my eyes and perceptions. Perhaps it is a self portrait of you internally. Is it? Ha! This lesson about grammar is interesting! I write poetry… so I am careless. And this is reflected in the rest of my writing. I just care about rhythm and pleasing myself. I am egocentric. Anyhow! We all appreciate you help–teacher! God bless!

    • Yes, purple-haired Henrietta (the cartoon character) is my alter ego. She’s a little braver, more outgoing, and more creative than me. Henrietta is like the English translation of Henneke. It’s the closest English name I could find.

      To be clear, I don’t have purple hair. And I don’t have a dog either ๐Ÿ˜‰

  37. I recall this being brought up in one of your books, but it was effervescently nice to see it so delightfully reinvigorated here.

    • I like the word effervescent! (That’s despite often struggling with the pronunciation.)

      Nice use of adverbs ๐Ÿ™‚

  38. Referring to one of your earlier comments, of COURSE (didn’t mean to shout) we are interested in adverbs. Actually I am interested in anything you dish up. As a copywriter who has spent far too much learning things I didn’t plan to (immersed myself in SEO this week and hope all these comments are ‘nofollow’ so you don’t endorse us all by mistake), it’s great to be reminded of what I should be focusing on. Thank you for being you and being out there, keeping us on track, Henneke. You are a special one.
    Emma Capell recently posted…Super Quick Fix to Reach More of Your Facebook Visitors Today!My Profile

    • What a lovely comment, Emma. Thank you.

      And yep, all links in the comments are nofollow. I wouldn’t mind endorsing real commenters like you and the others here, but I think by having dofollow links in comments, you attract more spammy comments.

  39. Henneke–I’m a long time reader and this is one of your top 5 posts! As others have commented, this is an eye opener. I am sharing this with my three teen-aged daughters and the balance of my tribe. Thank you!
    Matthew Theis recently posted…Comment on When Was The Last Time Your Expectations Were Exceeded? by Matthew TheisMy Profile

    • Just shows how difficult it remains to predict as writer how popular an article will be.

      I appreciate your comment (and you loyal readership!), Matthew. Thank you.

  40. Wow Henneke, I savored every word in your post. Your writing is crystal clear, thank you very much!
    Elisabeth Zonjee recently posted…100 excuses for not learning DutchMy Profile

  41. Dr. Nicolas Rao says:

    Thank you Henneke, you make everything clear effortlessly. This one takes out the duh’s of adverbs. I am going to share it with my daughter who writes a half page for the newspaper every week.
    Thanks again, great lesson; delightfully written.
    Nicolas Rao

  42. Hi Henneke,
    thank you for bringing life and spunk into something as painful as writing copy (for me).

    • I like the word spunk! And I hope that (with a little more practice perhaps) writing soon will become less painful for you!

  43. Scott Worthington says:

    I thought that Henneke was just mildy eccentric. Now I know the truth.

    Hennekke is bonkers.
    Henneke is looney.
    Henneke is dippy.

    Henneke is also modest, changing the subject in her final examples. Too modest to write…

    Henneke is breathtakingly beautiful.
    Henneke is gorgeous.

    Thank you for the enchanting lesson, Henneke.

  44. Hi, Henneke,

    Yet another great piece.

    Okay, I give up. I’m sort of lame at adverbs. And this article sure spills the entire beans on using adverbs well.

    I love the emphasis on differentiating the usage. And the last four examples are good points that have successfully summarised the entire lesson every writer needs on adverbs.

    Interestingly though, after reading Stephen King’s On Writing, I came off with the notion that adverbs are just too lame and should never appear in writing. (The book explores that deeply).

    Hence, I tend to avoid adverbs like it’s a plague.

    But with this masterpiece, putting a final crush to my doubts about the use of adverbs, I am certain to never be scared of adverbs. Not ever.

    This is worth sharing and of course, worth archiving.

    Thanks, Henneke.

    Best regards.

    Busayo Yusuff
    Yusuff Busayo recently posted…Break From The Noise (The Hustlerโ€™s Guide to Becoming an Online Iconoclast)My Profile

    • Yep, you can decide to avoid adverbs almost completely. That’s fine, too.

      It’s always better to be on the safe side. Rather too few than too many.

      Thank you for stopping by!

  45. Mike Wilke says:

    Henneke,
    As usual, you make perfect sense out of a controversial subject.
    Thank you for that.

    Mike

    P.S. Please say hi to Henrietta for me?

  46. Wow Henneke! A well explained and easy post to read on two levels. One, thanks for the refresher in grammar, and two, awareness from a copywriting perspective.

    I always smile when you refer to Apple – you just love their web copy ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Enjoy the rest of the week

    Mark
    Mark Crosling recently posted…How to Leave a Rating and Review on iTunes for PodcastsMy Profile

    • Yep, I like Apple’s copy. I’ve learned a lot from studying their copy (and the article I wrote for KISSmetrics about three years ago still gets mentioned by people occasionally!). I also think Apple provides good examples because they instantly establish credibility – probably more so than from some lesser known brands?

      I hope you’re having a good week, too!

  47. Hi Henneke,

    You powerfully showed us how to make our writing less dull. When it comes to writing concise and colorful, you are one of the writers I truly admire.

    The Apple example was exquisite, those adverbs are almost hypnotic. The way they present their products is magnificent, it’s just something I have to respect as a marketer.

    On a related note though, I read the copy for the Kindle Fire recently. No funky words, but it was so bold I had to chuckle.

    Tiny Price. Big fun
    Almost 2x more durable than the latest iPad Air (and costs a lot less too)

    I love your lessons Henneke, thanks for another one!

    – Jasper
    Jasper Oldersom recently posted…Are You Keeping This in Mind When Selling Your Products or Services Online?My Profile

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Jasper.

      It’s fascinating to study copy, isn’t it? I could spend all day browsing the web looking for interesting copy …

      A pity that I have to write a blog post now and then ๐Ÿ˜‰

  48. Thanks for this valuable post. I came across your name on Elna Cain’s blog and thought I should visit. You are so knowledgeable! Thanks again

    Mercy.
    Mercy recently posted…7 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Freelance WriterMy Profile

  49. Hi Henneke,
    This post is extremely helpful (I needed that one, I promise :-)). I’m guilty of overusing adverbs, though I believe most of us do it. I signed up for your writing course a while back and got through some of the material but to be honest with my inbox so flooded and time being limited I lost track. Now I’m reminded why I need to go back to that folder (yes, I made you a folder) and finish reading EVERYTHING.
    You are amazing at what you do and I thank you for sharing your gift so freely. I just got both books from Amazon. It may take me a while to get through them but I will keep you posted on the journey.
    Thanks again for all you do!
    Anna
    Anna recently posted…7 Tips for Entrepreneurs & Dream-ChasersMy Profile

    • Yep, you’re right. Most of us overuse adverbs. Me, too. We just have to edit ruthlessly ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thank you for buying my books. I hope you’ll find them useful, too. Will you let me know?

      Thank you for stopping by!

  50. LOVE this post!

    Working in corporate-land I’ve been steadily indoctrinated with the desire to add ever more outlandish adverbs to my copy (you see how much work there is to be done!)

    I’ve recently embarked on a ‘strip it bare’ and build it back up mentality, fuelled by reading copyblogger articles, which is how I stumbled on your site.

    What’s interesting is the persuasiveness of your copy. I arrived at your site, read the first 5 lines of one of your posts and promptly purchased your book – what strange mind control is this that you weave Henneke!

    One tool that has helped me is Grammarly. I love the way it crosses out my adverbs like a frosty old English lit teacher.

    When I write: “Henneke is a really crazy girl.” – it strikes out my poorly chosen adverb with a carefully worded put-down:

    “It appears that ‘really’ causes some redundancy in this sentence. Consider removing it.”

    I’m slowly getting used to the constant criticism it lavishes on my copy but heaven forbid you add a preposition at the end of a sentence…
    Dylan Jones recently posted…How to Leverage Content Catalysts on LinkedIn [Tactics from my MissingLink interview]My Profile

    • Thank you for buying my book, Dylan. I hope you find it useful. Let me know?

      I’ve not tried Grammarly – their feedback does indeed sound a little old-fashioned like a stuffy literature teacher. The Hemingway app (free online) also marks all adverbs so you can consider removing or replacing them.

      Happy writing!

  51. Simranjeet Singh says:

    Hello Henneke,

    I regularly read your blogs and have learned a lot of things.

    I love this post, but I have a question.

    In the third line, you wrote “Sound good, doesn’t it?”
    Shouldn’t it be “Sounds good, doesn’t it?”

    If your version is correct, then please explain. I am a bit confused here.

    Thanks

    • I think that’s because it’s short for “That does sound good, doesn’t it?”

      (I’ve written “Sounds good?” in the past, too, but had it corrected by a professional editor.)

  52. Miriam Gilbert says:

    Oh my gosh – I just rediscovered my love for language… Thank you!

  53. sujit kumar biswas says:

    Dear Henneke
    How dare to comment your post. I was flabbergasted while studying your post. Your writings always have a different taste. Just love your way you think.

    Best
    sujit

  54. Hmmmm interesting, I never thought of it this way.
    Being an american living abroad most of my life I think I overlook things like how to use an adverb properly.

    I guess I should be thankful that I have my partner do most of my web writing… (I just send him this post : )
    Dave MUN recently posted…Model UN Style – MUN Style (Official Video)My Profile

    • I’d say most people overlook things like how to use an adverb properly. You’re already ahead if you know what an adverb is ๐Ÿ™‚

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