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The Tricky Truth About Adjectives

Does your copy suffer from drab adjectives? Adjectives are delicate. Tricky. Problematic.

Why?

Adjectives can destroy your copy. Because they slow down your readers and make them click away.

But they can be fun, too. Almost magic. Because they can help your reader picture or feel something. And that makes your content powerful, persuasive, and memorable.

So how do you know whether an adjective is drab or strong?

Drab adjectives don’t have a genuine meaning: Corporate blurb like best-in-class, market-leading, innovative, cutting-edge, or ground-breaking.

*Blllerrrrgh*

And strong adjectives?

Emotional or sensory words are powerful. Like crappy, creepy, or stupid. And vibrant, dazzling, or fuzzy.

How can you eliminate blandness from your copy?

  1. Pump up the volume. Go for enchanting or delightful rather than nice.
  2. Make the word sensory. Choose stinky or rough rather than bad.
  3. Delete an adjective if it doesn’t change the meaning of your sentences.

What are your favorite adjectives?

Image credit: Treehouse1977 (adapted)
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Comments

  1. If anyone wants to know how NOT to use adjectives, listen to Geraldo Rivera speak. This guy uses more adjectives in a sentence than Madonna has facelifts.

    Thanks Henneke

    • Yep, sometimes it helps to think about those people that bore us and why that is…

      Thanks for your comment, Louie.

  2. As a novice writer I am learning a TON from your little nuggets – don’t stop!

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