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Apr
25
2016

The case for adverbs -- by Chris Welch

The case for adverbs.

I would never have believed that it would be necessary to make such a case. But there is a prejudice abroad in CC, one without validity or justification in my humble opinion, one that is applied with confident censoriousness and seemingly never questioned. It is time to make a case for the defence.

It should not be needed. Adverbs are an ancient and substantial class of words, integral to the language, that would never have survived if they did not perform a useful function.

That function is qualification: they modify the verb (or adjectives and other adverbs, not to mention clauses and entire sentences). They add precision to the meaning, allow for subtlety and nuance, and prove useful adjuncts that enable a well-balanced sentence to be constructed or to create the needed rhythm in a work. They can help define individual voices and impart necessary information. The English language without adverbs is a maimed and diminished thing. How can anyone justify dressing up nouns as much as one might wish, but claiming that verbs should be left naked and bereft?

Add the fact that all writers have used adverbs in the past. I think that that is a pretty safe assumption, though I am open to correction. Certainly great writers like Austen and Dickens have. And there is your prima facie case.

The onus must therefore be upon the naysayers to provide cogent and convincing arguments. I was directed to a website citing a certain Mr Stephen King who seems to be particularly antagonistic to ‘this malignant part of speech’. I have never actually read any works by the gentleman, but I will accept that Austen and Dickens are not in the same class as writers.

The website (https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/03/13/stephen-king-on-adverbs/) and entitled ‘Stephen King on Writing, Fear, and the Atrocity of Adverbs’    begins by citing Mark Twain’s admonition to ‘Employ a simple and straightforward style.’

Now, I yield to no-one in my admiration of Mark Twain. I do like his style. But it is not THE style. I don’t think anyone could accuse Shakespeare of a simple and straightforward style. Out of interest I pulled A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court from my bookshelves and opened it at random. And there immediately found adverbs. The second of which was a ‘suddenly’ but I shall leave that for another day.

Having admittedly ‘used a handful of well-placed adverbs in his excellent recent (book)’ – Mr King is clearly a trained professional who can handle these dangerous words, but please don’t try it at home, folks – he is quoted as saying:

Adverbs, like the passive voice, seem to have been created with the timid writer in mind. … With adverbs, the writer usually tells us he or she is afraid he/she isn’t expressing himself/herself clearly, that he or she is not getting the point or the picture across.

This is unwarranted pejorative writing. It is technically an ad hominem fallacy, attributing derogatory characteristics to those he disagrees with. On what basis does Mr King know, or can even reasonably assume, that writers use adverbs out of fear? This may well be Mr King’s opinion, he is clearly not a timid writer himself, but it cannot be justified. If it is the case, considering the use of adverbs by the giants of English Literature, we seem to have had an inordinate number of fearful writers in their tremulous ranks.

It goes without saying that Mr King provides not a scintilla of evidence for this breathtaking claim. Indeed, simply remove the term afraid and you have an excellent case for adverbs right there.

With adverbs, the writer usually tells us he or she isn’t expressing himself/herself clearly, that he or she is not getting the point or the picture across.

And that’s when one reaches for the adverb box. That’s what adverbs are FOR, Mr King.

By the way, how did that ‘usually’ get in there? Oh, sorry, I forgot. Mr King is a professional.

Mr King then continues with a technique I see on all such sites. To use carefully chosen examples that exemplify his case. Cherry picking we fallacy spotters call it.

Of course that is fine, per se, as long as his case is simply that adverbs can be misused, as can all parts of speech. It is the jump to the conclusion that all (or, at least, the vast majority of) adverbs ‘pave the road to hell’ that is totally invalid.

Mr King’s example:

Consider the sentence He closed the door firmly. It’s by no means a terrible sentence (at least it’s got an active verb going for it), but ask yourself if firmly really has to be there. You can argue that it expresses a degree of difference between He closed the door and He slammed the door, and you’ll get no argument from me … but what about context? What about all the enlightening (not to say emotionally moving) prose which came before He closed the door firmly? Shouldn’t this tell us how he closed the door? And if the foregoing prose does tell us, isn’t firmly an extra word? Isn’t it redundant?

1. Ask yourself what writing would be like if only words that really (sic) have to be there were permitted. Writing is not the impartation of information in as succinct a manner as possible.

2. Context. Mr King happily invents a context in which the word firmly is entailed by the preceding prose, and concludes that therefore the word is unnecessary. This is the logical fallacy of petition principii or ‘begging the question’. He is assuming what he wants to prove.

What, for example, if it is the opening sentence? Then consider

He closed the door firmly. His class sat nervously.

Does this not begin to create an atmosphere and add information where ‘He closed the door. His class sat.’ does not?

To me ‘He closed the door firmly’ reads better than ‘He closed the door.’ The latter seems flat and uninteresting, but that is a subjective view, of course.

3. The fact that the preceding might be written in such a manner as to make the adverb redundant does not require it to be written like that. The use of the adverb may add to the preceding passage. Writing is about opening up different possible ways of expressing something, not shutting them down.

Now,’ he said, ‘remain here in your seats until I return.’ He left, closing the door firmly behind him.

4. Although Mr King does not mention this, I am told that adverbs can, and should, be replaced by an alternative figure of speech.

For example ‘He said delightedly’ can be replaced by ‘He said with delight’. This, to me, encapsulates the nonsense of adverbophobia. I accept there may be the odd and marginal occasion where one may be stylistically preferred to the other, but in what possible way can the adverb be regarded as noticeably inferior to an adverbial phrase?

The even more amazing claim that the use of an adverb means that the author has not chosen the correct verb is so manifestly absurd as to deserve being passed over in pitying silence.

Mr King ‘insist(s) that you use the adverb in dialogue attribution only in the rarest and most special of occasions . . . and not even then, if you can avoid it.

If this isn’t dogmatic and grandiose assertion I’ve never heard it. 

He gives three examples. I shall content myself with one.

‘Don’t be such a fool, Jekyll,’ Utterson said.

Compared to

‘Don’t be such a fool, Jekyll,’ Utterson said contemptuously.

According to Mr King the latter is 'weaker' than the former, 'and most readers will see why immediately.'

Well, I don’t see why, and I’m not afraid of saying so. I note, in passing, that Mr King does not see fit to inform us poor, ignorant souls what IS wrong with it. The implication appears to be that anyone who disagrees is obviously someone who lacks the taste, discrimination or aesthetic appreciation to see it.

Nor am I impressed by the argumentum ad populum (the argument to common belief), even if it is true. Yet another logical fallacy.

I am quite prepared to say that I personally prefer the balance of the second sentence and the useful information about the tone.

By way of an amusing aside, well, I found it amusing, after writing this I stumbled across a Stephen King book in a second-hand bookshop. The Waste Lands. I opened it at random (page 304) and found myself reading '‘How reassuring,’ Eddie said sourly.' Tut tut.

I have my suspicions that ‘most’ readers would simply not agree with Mr King. Has he carried out any objective survey before making his unqualified assertion? I have. Totally unscientific, I admit, and with an extremely small sample size of 25 people, but at least I made some attempt to check the assertion.

I was not surprised, though Mr King ought to be, that 72% opted for the sentence with the adverb as ‘better’ while 20% expressed no preference. A mere 8% agreed with Mr King’s assessment.

I would doubt that any of these dogmatic assertions about style have ever been ‘tested’ in even the most rudimentary ways. They all seem to rely on an appeal to authority (yet another fallacy). Some celebrity authors take their own stylistic preferences as gospel and it becomes the unthinking norm.

On another aside, I assumed, as most readers would, that the sentence actually came from Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. It doesn’t, so I wonder why Mr King invented it?  The book actually contains plenty of genuine cases of adverbs in dialogue tags - good-naturedly, hoarsely, peevishly, complainingly, sharply, sulkily, coolly, musingly, gloomily, doggedly etc.

I will accept that many honestly find that adverbs do stand out for them and feel wrong. Now, this is just a hypothesis and founded on nothing but the results of simple surveys such as the one above, but I suspect that this is probably due, in many cases, to the well-known psychological traits of sensitisation, peer pressure and confirmation bias. Heuristics of the mind that we are all heir to, so that is not intended to be pejorative in any sense.

I am NOT saying that adverbial use should not be criticised, where it is inappropriate, redundant, clumsy or excessive. That is down to the usual subjective qualifications. But when adverbs are criticised for simply being adverbs it is time to take a stand. 

I shall finish this little rant with a final passage from Mr King - a wonderful example of hyperbole that commits the slippery slope fallacy- use one adverb and you will soon be overrun by them. OK, I know he is being comedic, but he really would benefit from a tutorial on rational argumentation. 

‘Someone out there is now accusing me of being tiresome and anal-retentive. I deny it. I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they’re like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day . . . fifty the day after that . . . and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it’s — GASP!! — too late.’

Well, I wouldn’t say you are tiresome and anally-retentive, Mr King. But I say that ironically.

I hastily retire to my blast bunker and nervously await developments.

Regards to all,

Harp.

Donations to the ‘Save Our Adverbs’ Appeal may be sent to Harpalycus on Critique Circle. Anything that makes a ticking noise will be returned to the sender.

Posted by Chris Welch 25 Apr 2016 at 02:44
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Responses to this blog

Bethanne80 25 Apr 2016 at 06:51  
I agree - we've gotten to the point now where we see all adverbs as evil. Adverbs do have a place; we should learn their place and learn to use them well, but also learn to take them out when they're not needed. I know that often times when I edit my own work, I find myself removing a good deal of adverbs because their place in the sentence doesn't change the meaning at all. There are also times when I replace a weak verb and its adverb with a single strong verb.

On the subject of dialogue tags, I think adverbs do have a place there - occasionally. But I find that my writing is usually stronger when the dialogue itself, or an action beat, shows the tone of voice used.
Instead of writing, "How dare you," she said angrily. I would prefer to write, She slammed her mug on the table. "How dare you."

Maybe that's a bad example, but I think that dialogue tags only rarely need adverbs.

Adverbs: Use 'em when they're useful, slay 'em when they're not.
Kcm 25 Apr 2016 at 08:33  
Hi Harp,

Well and thoroughly wrought (hard to pen that sans adverb). Still, a bit of obsessive compulsive disorder overtakes me when I run up against an intellect as keen as you present. I can't keep quiet; have to say something; so here goes: I surmise that adverbs owe their beginnings, their sustenance, and their existence—in greater part—to the oral traditions. The writer has the luxury of spending three weeks at the task bringing a single sentence from inception to the point of bearing its fruit. Our friend Stephen King consigned months of work on CARRIE, his first novel, to the trash bin—still unspoken, in a sense until, by his testimony, his wife retrieved it, read it and insisted on seeing the finish of the work's tale.

That lag-time luxury not afforded a speaker. It's more often like Inception: shpluhhht!:now dare to stand by your words, allin under none second. For quick, irretrievable communication uses, I think, quick, accessible, plastic adverbs, are damn handy if not irreplaceable tools.

I agree with what I gleaned from this excellent blog. There are instances, as well, in text where adverbs are irreplaceable. There are also instances where replacement would constitute a downgrading of the text. They annoy me when I perceive that the writer (very often the one you're reading at this moment) opts for expediency and fails to spend the time to either husband the inception or bring it cleanly to the page.

Kevin
Onalimb 25 Apr 2016 at 09:24  
I heartily applaud your refusal to pander to the 'rules.' Anyone who thinks to apply any 'rule' across the board, without reference to context or creative expression, and without looking to see whether the usage works, is doing themselves, or the author, a disservice.

Critiquing groups have many fine qualities, but one of the downsides is the push to conformity.

Personally, I endeavor to use adverbs sparingly. When I do use them, I want them to stand out. However, I have seen writers who create beautiful, lyrical, flowing prose that I greatly admire.

For me, good writing should make the reader both know and care. Tossing out pretty words, without much regard for meaning, is like random banging on a keyboard to make 'music.' By the same token, a dry rendition of facts evokes no emotional response.

We each have to find our own voice.



Kathryn 25 Apr 2016 at 09:26  

Comeaux 25 Apr 2016 at 09:48  
Harp, I vividly remember some time back that you and I had a discussion about adverbs: me sharing with you my scoldings from others about adverbs; you sharing with me that my writing was flat without them. You were right. But so are the people who take the stand against them. How can that be? Now, that's an interesting question.

Here's what I've concluded. After also pulling writings from Shakespeare and Tolstoy and Steinbeck and Hemmingway from my library, I discovered—after much frustration, fits of rage, and threats to stop writing—that adverbs are not a sin. It is NOT wrong to use them. However, anything overused in our writing is never a good thing. Adverbs are a part of our English grammar that should be used, but striking a good balance with their usage is indeed a tricky situation.

New writers and established writers who have become rushed to put out their next novel, overuse adverbs. Instead of critics on CC informing writers that they should consider paring them down, they end up teaching them that it's a writer's sin to use them. Eager new writers with an aim to please, comply, with no earthly idea that it's not that they shouldn't use adverbs, but rather, they shouldn't OVERUSE them.

The key is, don't OVERUSE adverbs. Matter of fact, simply put, don't overuse any word. Repetitiveness will bore the reader.

I have fought with this for over two years, wrestling with the idea of what kind of writer I wanted to be. So desperate that I pulled more books off my shelf then went online and read excerpts of well-known authors on Amazon.com; becoming frustrated when I found many authors had committed the same infraction.

The thing is, there's not one writer that has avoided the use of adverbs. Not one.

So, what's the point?

Again, the point is that we should not overuse any word or word phrases. That also includes "ing" words. Why? Because you and I are entertainers in the art of writing and we bear the burden of presenting a new act, a new chapter that is interesting enough to keep our reader's attention. If a tap dancer gets on stage and performs the same two-step repetitively, we soon become bored and will boo him/her off stage. If our writings are filled with too many adverbs, "ing," and "ly" endings, readers will place your book back on the shelf, throw it out, return it to the library, or return it to the store for a refund (I've done this a time or two myself).

My new aim is to write with adverbs, "ly" and "ing" endings, but to do so with attentive eyes always in search for my overuse of them.

In the end, write as you will, but to overuse anything will bore the most loyal reader.

That's my take on this.

Thanks for the post, Harp.

Donna
Destro 25 Apr 2016 at 09:49  

Peachalulu 25 Apr 2016 at 12:26  
Good article, Harp. I like adverbs myself. But they're so maligned I use them sparingly. Like just there.
__________________
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Jones0901 25 Apr 2016 at 13:22  
great article.
there is a tendency on this site to 'call out' adverb use. I think is because chiding the use of adverbs is easier to do than picking out structural or thematic flaws in someone's work. I think when people aren't quite sure how to fill up 300 words to get a credit, or they feel like they might insult someone by mistake, they lean towards the easy criticism of commas, adverbs, spelling. and this kind of crit has a place, but if it was all we needed, this site could just be called editor's circle.(and we'd all be published)
that being said, I think adverb use can lead to lazy writing.
example(s):
He closed the door firmly. His class sat nervously
yes, this sentence is better than:
He closed the door. The class sat.
however, this doesn't mean that either is the best option:
He muttered a curse as the door slammed shut behind him. The class said nothing, but he could feel their eyes upon his back, and the weight of their mounting nervousness pressing down.
of course, they are many better options than that, too, but the point is, if you leave your description at 'firmly' and 'nervously', the impact of the emotion and the action are dependent upon the adverb, when a couple of words (doesn't have to be many, just the right ones) can increase whatever emotion you want the reader to feel.

however, the selective use of adverbs is a serious weapon:
O WHAT can ail thee, knight-at-arms,. Alone and palely loitering?—that's probably my favorite.
Pmartissm 25 Apr 2016 at 19:12  

Let's not forget that writing styles do change with time. No-one writes like Dickens anymore with reams of description and backstory before the 'action' starts. Having said that I did write a review of a school field trip I made when 18 years old in Dickensian style that was well received.

Back to adverbs. I think they do get slammed a bit too much on CC, and I think a judicious use of adverbs is necessary It's the overdoing of their use that would encourage lazy writing.
Rellrod 25 Apr 2016 at 19:27  
Loved the blog, Chris. I agree.

Comeaux has it right, I think: It may be useful, especially for us beginners, to warn against adverbs and such, because beginning writers tend to overuse them. But these guidelines are like training wheels. Eventually we (should) develop a sound sense of when to use a given technique from our linguistic toolbox.

Incidentally, to my mind "closed the door firmly" means something quite different from "slammed the door." The latter is louder, more forceful, and angrier. When we want to choose just the right word to express what we mean, sometimes it's an adverb.

Rick
Trevose 25 Apr 2016 at 19:59  
I can't help but share that we may be misreading King (so to speak). In short, I think he is smarter than we realize and that this is really about self-promotion. Of course, he uses adverbs. So saying flamboyant things such as the road to hell is paved with adverbs is a fine way to get your mug posted on Facebook once a week, especially when there is ample evidence that you don't believe what you say. It also might just make someone curious enough about his writing to buy a copy. Do you think if his tag line had been "Clear writing is important" he would have made so many appearances on social media?

His fake hatred of adverbs is all a gimmick to garner more publicity, more sales. This is similar to what he did with his book: At the start of his autobiography (On Writing), he comforted us by saying he would not be like those other writers that write about themselves and talk about their craft...unless he was really good and had special wisdom to share... So because he said he is great, he is great and wrote a book about himself, which was surprisingly lacking in insight about the craft other than to advise aspiring writers to read Elements of Style.

Long live the King, smart marketer that he is. I should be 1/10th so clever (To promote my own brand equity as a writer, I was trying out "The road to hades is paved with cobblestones that represent too many glue words" but not sure that roles off the tongue so well).

Full disclosure: I don't like his fiction at all, though I did find the autobiographical portions of On Writing well written and engaging.
Harpalycus 25 Apr 2016 at 22:05  
That is fascinating, Trevose. I know nothing about the man but it certainly fits his 'style'.
Unfortunately, though lacking his exuberance and panache, I have met all his 'arguments' on CC, advanced in all seriousness by others, no doubt with the best of intentions. So he makes an easy but useful target.
Especially as I have had him held up, on several occasions, as a guru who has brought the truth down from the mountain on tablets of stone.
I am not against people choosing to write terse and unadorned prose, writing should be a garden of different blooms not a monoculture of whatever form. Nor against the subjective criticism of the use of adverbs in a given context.
But I think it is fair to say that there is a substantial prejudice against adverbs per se, and, when challenged, it too often turns out to be an unthinking prejudice (is that a tautology?). It's four legs good, two legs bad. And what about us chickens is what I say.
And please don't start on 'glue words'. I have got enough on my plate with Mr King.

Jaramsli 25 Apr 2016 at 22:17  
Sigh. Now I have to look up adverbs in the dictionary, too. I honestly thought I didn't need them.
Excellent article, though. I chuckled nervously while reading.
__________________
Beware of research. Knowledge is power and power corrupts.

Trevose 26 Apr 2016 at 06:54  
Harpalycus said: "...though lacking his exuberance and panache, I have met all his 'arguments' on CC, advanced in all seriousness by others, no doubt with the best of intentions. So he makes an easy but useful target." Indeed and indeed. And though I did not say it earlier, very well written and enjoyable article.

Fcsc 29 Apr 2016 at 00:29  
So much has been written before, yet I want to add my appreciation of your article (blog?).

Your point is so well made by: The Darwinian survival of adverbs over the millennia, and the simple analysis of Mr. King's exemplar text: He closed the door firmly. His class sat nervously. Straightaway I was back at school fearing Mr. Tribe- the eccentric, and brilliant mathematics teacher. Had you written: 'He closed the door. His class sat,' I could have been anywhere, or worse, nowhere.

Thanks from someone who has been worried about adverbial criticism.


Demonqueen 29 Apr 2016 at 00:59  
Firmly in your camp, Harp. I've been scrupulously editing a short story this week using an online editor and when I got to the adverb section I apparently had too many, but for the most part, when I took them out, it weakened the meanings. Or I had to rewrite the sentences which lost a lot of the personality of the piece (it's humour). So, apart from a few, most of them stayed.

Interestingly, in my local writing group the other day where the theme was on Shakespeare, our French members told us that French literature is very dry because they 'write with an eraser' in their hands - i.e. over-edit it to the point that there is no passion or personality left in it. Apparently, they see Shakespeare as very modern! But, point is, its a very slipery slope. The beauty of the English language is its vast vault of vocabulary.

I do think this campaign against adverbs stems from abundant misuse of them and, as with most of these things (Telling, for instance), are born out of a fear or lack of knowledge of teaching the right way to do it. It's easier just to say: don't do that, rather than: here's how to do it effectively.

Great argument, BTW — I'll be coming to you for all my legal work in the future Come over and hang out in Adverb Alley with me! We can mug a few strong verbs and naked nouns.


"The road to hades is paved with cobblestones that represent too many glue words" but not sure that roles off the tongue so well).


Now THAT I can agree with, Trevose, and am tackling an article related to it as we speak!

Colibri 30 Apr 2016 at 15:04  
Very good article, Chris. Sorry, excellent article and interesting comments from everyone.
I agree on both counts. I'm not against adverbs, just make sure they are carefully selected to produce the desired effect and not overused.
Mbrooke 3 May 2016 at 04:43  
You're speaking my language here. New to fiction writing but having written non-fiction for almost two decades, I had never even heard this rule until I came on here.

I think the absence of adverbs can somewhat ironically lead to overwrought prose. As a writer if you're not allowed to say something as simple and to the point as "He closed the door forcefully" or "She spoke emphatically", you need to use fifteen words to describe the same thing...I'm sorry to "show" the same thing.

Unless his closing of the door is an intricate part your overarching narrative or theme, then I'd rather him just close it with impunity and move on. It's a style preference.

I don't think it's a hard and fast rule that you have to use them either. I'm sure there are fabulous writers who excise adverbs ruthlessly (or find another way to write this sentence without "ruthlessly"), but that doesn't mean adverbs are without merit in the English language.
Ordovician 3 May 2016 at 09:18  
Hey Harp! I think you would enjoy this article chronicle.com/article/50-Years-of-Stupid-Grammar/25497 about The Elements of Style. It is written by a noted linguist and similar in style to your post. In On Writing Stephen references Elements quite often, and I am fairly convinced that it is the basis for his hate of adverbs.
Did anyone else ever notice how the Harry Potter series is positively brimming with adverbs?
Giffordmac 5 May 2016 at 12:21  
Amen and Hallelujah! Couldn't have said it better myself, and I've tried. Oh, how I've tried.
Colibri 6 May 2016 at 10:32  
Quote by: Giffordmac
Amen and Hallelujah! Couldn't have said it better myself, and I've tried. Oh, how I've tried.


Yes, me too. Chris has given us a great article.

Sac 13 May 2016 at 19:03  
I think a lot of this animosity towards adverbs likely stems from new writers to CC over-using them, and having it turn their writing from showing, into telling.

I recently critiqued a story where the main character crept out her front door carefully. I pinged that paragraph, not because I hated the use of the word, but because I thought it was an opportunity to show the reader more of the scene. Was it an old weathered door, slightly warped out of the frame? Did you have to wrench on the knob to keep the door from clacking shut? Had the knob become loose over the course of time because of this repeated action? There's opportunity there for expanded story telling.

And then there's Patrick Rothfuss, and The Name of the Wind. One of the great fantasy novels of our time, and maybe all time, and Patrick's writing is chock full of adverbs. But then again, Rothfuss is an incredibly skilled writer.

Everything in moderation, I say. And everyone should have a little fat in their diet.

My two cents.
Dystopianp 14 May 2016 at 17:50  
My two cents are simple: "Don't use an adverb when a verb would say it better." Otherwise, leave them in. Adverb paranoia is rampant here and I do not believe this OCD is worth all this worry. Do other writers' sites carry on like this?
Andrewhowe 4 Aug 2016 at 01:50  
Hey, Chris!

To begin with, I'm impressed by the fact that you go against world-known author's attitude toward adverbophobia. It's just awesome! As for me, just a few of us can talk on the topic when our views differ from an opinion leader's.

I absolutely agree that adverbs are not bad at all. However, you might notice that they are often misused, and that's the biggest problem. Obviously, we can't stop using adverbs at all, but we'd better realize when to leave or remove them in order to make the prose better. Being interested in this subject, I've collected data into an infographic (adverbless.com/adverbs-good-or-bad.html), and it can help people analyze when and how adverbs weaken your prose.


Chris, I wonder if you pay much attention to adverbs when you proofread your articles. Having written an article on this topic, it might be in your head, so I'm interested if you try to eradicate adverbs or it's just OK for you to write like it goes.

After all, we can't stop using adverbs, but we can make our prose stronger, and it's a little-known way how to do it
Akalovid 2 Jul at 11:31  
Thank you! As a non native speaker, it was only recently and with the greatest surprise that I read of the supposed evil of adverbs. The case seems to originate from obscure sources, such as: www.livemint.com/Leisure/i8wjh4uNOfjbcZNuVvMPQM/The-adverbs-that-gave-JK-Rowling-away.html , which intimidate writers by proclaiming:

`Blatt’s analysis shows us that books which had less than 50 adverbs in every 10,000 words were considered “great” by critics two-thirds of the time. Hemingway, the minimalist, used only 80 adverbs in every 10,000 words while Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling (of whom Stephen King once said, “Ms Rowling seems to have never met one [adverbs] she didn’t like”) used them at the rate of 140 per 10,000.'

I view such recommendations with the greatest suspicion. I think that a writer has to question the function of every word in his text. Focusing on adverbs can't be more than a useful excersise.

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