Editor Cat is back with her thoughts on words you shouldn’t be using. Enjoy:
What, I have to do this more than once? Humans can’t figure this out on their own? Fine.
Hello there human writer types. Apparently this unnecessary word thing is a recurring gig. I better see a lot more kibble in the bowl. Okay, the word you should excise from your writing, or at least use with extreme prejudice, is “very.”
There are many definitions for “very” and if you want to know what they are, click this. They all boil down to the same thing. Very is a modifying word. It’s a useless modifying word, though. All of you can do better. In many cases, the word isn’t needed. But what about emphasis? you ask. Emphasis is done with precise language. Some example. For the bad sentence I will some of the examples from the definition.
“A giant is very tall.” A true statement, but stronger to say “A giant is the height of a house”*
“In the very same place as before” Pardon me while I cough up a hairball. Better to say “in the exact place as before”
“He was caught in the very act of stealing.” Oh really? The very act? Say it’s not so. How about “he was caught in the act of stealing.” Or you could keep it real simple: “He was caught stealing.”
If something is “very” something, always see if you can find a replacement that gets the idea across with more punch:
very graceful = agile
very smart = a genius
very ugly = hideous
Note that only two of the above word describe Editor Cat. I think you know which two.
So you see, very is not necessary to your writing. You can come up with stronger language to get the same thing across. Oh, the asterisk above on the first example? Stronger language doesn’t always saves words. We’re looking for clarity, not word count.
Until next time, keep those keyboards clicking.