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Writing "very" Poorly


One would think good writers would write very well, but so often they write very poorly instead.


The wordvery, that is.


The intensifier.


How’d you do on the test? Very badly.

How’s your grandmother? Very weak.

How’s your kitchen? Very clean

How’s your kid? Very dirty.


Very is, of course, an intensifier, intended to make strong words stronger, weak word weaker, and weird words weirder. It’s a great word to use. It’s very great, in fact!


Just two problems.


Some use very with a word that has already been intensified and therefore, has no need of an intensifier. Why say very excellent? The word excellent already means very good.


Others use very to intensify an adjective (hence the word, ‘intensifier’), when there is a perfectly good substitute waiting in the wings.


Why use very weak when you can use frail, feeble or fragile?

Why use verychildish when you can use infantile or puerile?

Why use veryneat when you can say immaculate?

Why use verysloppy when you can say slovenly.

Why use verydirty when you can say filthy

Why use verywet when you can say drenched or soaked?

Why use verybright when you can say brilliant or glaring

Why use veryangry when you can use livid or fuming, or even apoplectic

Why use verybadly when you can use detestably or atrociously or wretchedly?


Such writing not only kills two birds for the price of one, but usually more accurately delineates meaning and emotion.


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