Very, very, completely: Keep language crisp and clean

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I was alerted to my default descriptive style about two weeks ago. It happened when I ran my own document through spell check prior to a more serious edit and it stopped me at ‘really, really’.

I realised these words were redundant and creating unnecessary hyperbole.

Recently I finished reading a book where the author’s penchant was for the word completely. Completely unnecessary, if you don’t mind.

A good writer will use strong adjectives. These should by rights, hold their own and not need any help from their much weaker and more common crutch-like cousins. Words that show up in the written form to assist perfectly (that’s one) capable adjectives and adverbs are in many cases unnecessary, superfluous and generally a good waste of space.

These words are ‘very, really, completely, absolutely’ and others which you will recognise for what they are when you see them.

In some, but usually rare occasions, these words, called intensifiers, do assist in making the meaning clear or just making the statement more expressive.

Can you describe the weather as very, very hot? Or would you do better to say sweltering?

Is someone completely broke or are they just plain broke?

After a fast are you very hungry or rather starving, famished maybe?

Is an athlete at the end of a marathon completely exhausted or sufficiently exhausted by itself?

My default word is really. I would typically say really, really, angry, when what I really mean is furious or incensed.

Why not spend some time reviewing your work and try to identify your default intensifier. Then look at the adjectives and adverbs you’ve used it for and see how you can replace them, with better, stronger and more effective words.

Get comfortable with your Thesaurus, online if necessary, say good-bye to really, very, absolutely and words of their ilk and start to enrich your vocabulary.

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