I hate the word ‘very’ very much!

July 16, 2013 at 12:41 pm

It may be a hangover from my journalism days, but I’m no fan of the word ‘very’.

No, I don’t think it is a hangover from that. I know other editors who frown on words like ‘very’ as well. While some might have a bugbear about words that end in ‘ly’, ‘very’ is my pet peeve.

Admittedly, I still use it sometimes, especially when writing dialogue, because a lot of people use it when they’re talking. However, when I did journalism I was told that if I needed to use the word ‘very’ then the word after it was the wrong choice. It wasn’t strong enough.

I don’t know if Mark Twain did say it, but this is attributed to him, ‘Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.’ I couldn’t agree more. Of course, these days ‘damn’ isn’t going to be edited out, but he’s right about ‘very’ on most occasions. ‘Very’ is one of those words that isn’t usually necessary. It’s right up there with ‘quite’, ‘just’ and ‘really’.

I mean, do we really need them? They’re just not necessary. If you’re using those words in your writing, especially very often, it can be quite annoying, and it usually changes the sentence in only very small ways, or not quite enough. Take those words out of the previous sentence and it will still make sense. Most times, they don’t need to be there.

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