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08 July 2013

I regret adverbs

Adverbs. Yuck yuck yuck yuck yuck!

Feeling sentimental last night, I read through an email I sent friends when my baby was 2 weeks and 4 days old. I was horrified to see I hadn’t followed my own advice. I’d filled my writing with adverbs — ‘a most beautiful little creature’, ‘exceptionally relieved’ (my partner), ‘completely paranoid’ (me about baby-stealers), and the crowning glory: ‘liberally decorated in facial acne’ (the baby, not me!).

I bet I justified my fluffiness at the time by telling myself Hannah was worth every adverb in the world and more! But looking back on the writing, it comes across as sappy and drippy; nothing like my real-life personality.

I vow to never, ever, ever write an adverb again. Unless it’s absolutely, positively, unequivocally necessary.


  1. But sometimes adverbs are useful to add colour and emotion. You might not want them in business writing, but in personal writing about your lovely baby, surely you're allowed a few?

  2. The adverbs certainly came out willingly! Maybe one or two in the whole email would have been okay. But I was writing an adverb or two in each sentence. So many of them gave the email a sappy tone.

  3. Stephen King says, 'The adverb is not your friend'.