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The Wells Street Journal blog serves as your guide to writing.

How to Avoid Overusing the Word “Very” in Your Writing

In the movie Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams’ character Professor Keating said “So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose.” The point he was trying to make is that there are much better words to use than “very” and that by using more descriptive language, you can improve your writing. Here are some examples of words you can use instead of “very” for a list of common adjectives.

Blog Body:
happy –> elated, overjoyed, ecstatic, thrilled, joyful
sad –> despondent, disheartened, discouraged, gloomy, downhearted
angry –> furious, infuriated, incensed, irate, enraged
tired –> exhausted, fatigued, worn out, drained
scared –> terrified, petrified, frightened, panicky
big –> huge, enormous, whopping, gargantuan
small –> tiny, miniscule, itsy-bitsy
smart –> intelligent, brilliant, smarty-pants
stupid –> idiotic , imbecilic , moronic , brainless , asinine
good –> great , wonderful , fantastic , splendid , marvelous

Conclusion: As you can see from the examples above, there are many ways to improve your writing by simply avoiding the word “very” and instead using more descriptive language. Next time you’re about to write “very happy”, take a step back and think of a more precise word that will really capture how you’re feeling. Your writing will thank you for it!