I’ll keep this short and simple.
There’s one word you’re using in your writing that’s spoiling everything.
I’m sorry to tell you this but it’s making you look as thick as a bag of hair.
Or that your grasp of the English language is a little limp.
Are you ready to find out what it is?
Are you sure?
Are you VERY sure?
The word you should stop using right now is (drum roll please….):
Yep, the innocuous little V word should be stricken from everything you write moving forward.
And here’s why…
English is a rather verbose language when compared to some others. According to Language Monitor there are over a million words in the English language. The Oxford English Dictionary has a definition for over 600,000 words and apparently our lovely language is growing at a rate of around 25,000 words a year.
Over the years English has evolved to meet the needs of its speakers. English has worked hard to reinvent itself, to expand, finesse and remove.
If a word doesn’t exist we create it.
If a word isn’t precise enough we qualify it.
For example we no longer need to say ‘wiggle your backside up and down at a fast pace’ now that we have ‘twerk’.
You’ve heard the old myth that Eskimos (or the Inuit and Yupik people to be exact) have over 100 words for snow. Well the same is true of many English words.
There are heaps of synonyms** for any given word.
So it seems a big fat hairy shame to use phrases like ‘very happy’, ‘very good’, ‘very important’ in your copywriting, when you have so many other options to choose from. Am I right?
Hang on, let’s just confirm what ‘very’ means
Okay, so VERY is an adverb meaning to a high degree, extremely or exceedingly. For example:
“The piglet is very bouncy.”
Although it’s used to magnify a verb, adjective or another adverb it lacks precision. It can actually confuse readers.
And it used to be used as an adjective:
“Why my good Sir, this is the very hedgehog I’ve been searching for.”
But that’s a little obsolete and Dickensian these days so probably best avoided.
Try writing the sentence without them and see how it improves.
I’m all for readability and ensuring your writing can be understood by your target audience, but that doesn’t mean you have to dumb it down.
Try elevating it occasionally with a sumptuous synonym!
50 ways to avoid using the word ‘very’
We all have our bad habits when writing (mine is excessive use of the word ‘that’) and it’s easy to fall into bad habits.
Why not print off and use this list of words to replace very for the next 30 days and see you can break those bad habits.
The list below is, of course, just simple examples (and many depend on the content).
If you have other, better synonyms to suggest why not comment at the bottom of the post.
Synonyms for Very
If you must use very try to limit it to once per 1000 words and then replace it with one of the following:
Absolutely, acutely, amply, astonishingly, awfully, certainly, considerably, dearly, decidedly, deeply, eminently, emphatically, exaggeratedly, exceedingly, excessively, extensively, extraordinarily, extremely, greatly, highly, incredibly, indispensably, largely, notably, noticeably, particularly, positively, powerfully, pressingly, pretty, prodigiously, profoundly, remarkably, substantially, superlatively, surpassingly, surprisingly, terribly, truly, uncommonly, unusually, vastly, wonderfully.
Over to you
What are your pet writing hates? Do you use very excessively in your copy? Do you have any good alternatives to suggest?
Want to have a chat?
If you need a Copywriter, SEO Consultant or Information Architect, then please contact me.
A word or phrase that modifies the meaning of an adjective, verb, or other adverb. They can be used to:
Describe how an action is done:
She gently caressed his buttocks,
To show where or when an action is done:
I need a curly wurly now
I like to buy my hedgehogs locally
To modify an adjective:
Your shoes look cheap and nasty
A synonym is a word with the same or similar meaning of another word, such as ‘buy’ and ‘purchase’, ‘big’ and ‘large’.