Adverbs are a pandemic and the cure is verbs.
Is there an argument to be made?
I’m here to tell you.
Adverbs are commonplace. No one recoils at its usage. But they should.
Adverbs diminish meaning.
Adverbs destroy eloquence.
Adverbs disintegrate imagery.
This article shows introverts how to enthrall listeners and command presence. No need for complex sentences or verbose language. Just strong verbs.
Setting The Situation
The OVERUSE of adverbs erodes an introvert’s character and stature. It dilutes meaning with wishy-washy language.
It’s not the be-all-end-all of conversational literacy.
Adverbs have their place.
However, the average person fills their conversational palette with mediocre words that diminish significance.
Let’s define an adverb:
A word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb or a word group, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree, etc. (e.g., gently, quite, then, there ).
“He spoke softly.”
It modifies the verb.
You wonder: “What’s wrong with that? Seems like a normal statement.”
- Conversation is multiple sentences. Overuse of adverbs dilutes meaning.
- Normal doesn’t command presence. Or else, everyone could do it.
“He spoke softly. His eyes glared menacingly and his body remained rigid.”
Any atmosphere is lost with that many adverbs.
You might say:
“Yes, but nobody talks like that in real life.”
I wish. At least, that person understands vivid imagery.
“I was really running out there. I totally cut my time by 0.2 seconds!”
I’m generalizing, but this is the conversational ability of the average person. Language is an extension of our ideas. Yet, it is bastardized because promptness trumps clarity.
We care more about making the message known rather than how we announce it.
Where is the problem?
My response is the education system.
It expects fluency, not sophistication. There is a difference. The education system relies on standard protocols that suppress creativity – the kind needed for exploration, eloquence, and enthusiasm.
My sneaking suspicion: word count on essays is the bane of all students. Instead of writing with clarity, they write to meet quotas. Gaming the system to meet requirements rewards higher grades, not understanding of language.
I remember – in my high school days – adding more words to look smart and meet the word count.
“It was windy.”
“It was an unfathomably windy day.”
Verbosity for its own sake.
Besides, conversation is not taught in school. You are expected to convey information. That’s where education falls short because the method of conveying is as much an art form as the idea itself.
Thankfully, there is a way to undo decades worth of programming.
Thankfully, there is a way to display strength in our words.
How Introverts Command Presence
Simple. Stop using adverbs. At the very least, reduce your usage.
In addition to becoming a robust conversationalist, you needn’t use energy conceiving or speaking unnecessary words.
Why spend energy weakening your sentences?
Okay, you may be wondering: “How do I may make words stronger?”
Use Strong Verbs
“He walked quickly to class.”
Remove the adverb.
“He walked to class.”
However, emphasis on ‘quick’ is lost which slightly alters its meaning.
A small snag, but fixable.
Change the verb.
“He blitzed to class.”
“He bolted to class.”
“He raced to class.”
Your words command. Your idea captivates. Your presence echoes. Adverbs cannot replicate such feelings.
Let’s return to our example above:
“He spoke softly.”
Depending on the context, meaning is lost. You still want the listener to recognize the change in volume. Change the verb.
Different verbs, different vibes.
Adverbs elongate a sentence. Why spend extra energy? Use strong verbs.
Retain clarity and vigor.
The key is patience and practice. Most of us are accustomed to adverbs; it takes time to re-orient around verbs.
Adverbs are not a complete death-sentence. Hell, I still use them. But, I try to cut down wherever I can. If I want to add imagery and potency to my speech, I utilize verbs.
The Greatest Perpetrators
“I really enjoyed that movie.”
“I,like, thought he was awesome.”
These three adverbs are the greatest mass murderers of conversational eloquence in the 21st century.
The adverbs in the previous sections were – at the least – passable. You’ll escape notoriety, even with extended usage.
These adverbs have 0 redeeming qualities.
They don’t express magnitude. Even worse, you’ll hear all three used in combination.
“She jumped, you know, like, really high.”
A travesty of a sentence.
Scrub these out of existence. You don’t even have to change the verb.
“I enjoyed that movie.”
“I thought he was awesome.”
“Gnarly. Sick. Wicked.” (Yes, I’m old[er])
There are some exceptions to adverbs. I’m not opposed to them(fully). Like other tools, there is a place for them if you know when and where to use them. I will address some concerns below.
Buy Time With Adverbs
If adverbs extend sentences longer than they need to be, those extra seconds can buy time. For example, if you are at a loss for words and unsure what to say next, buy time by using adverbs as filler. It also works best with added pauses.
Bob: “What are your thoughts on the Prime Minister?”
You: “I…wholeheartedly..believe that Prime Minister should… dutifully cut taxes..for the middle class.”
Just an example, but if you find yourself speechless, add filler words so you can work out what to say in your head.
Confuse Others With Adverbs
More adverbs mean longer sentences. Longer sentences muddle ideas. Great for confusing your listeners, especially if they want a definite statement.
Bob: “What are your thoughts on the Prime Minister?”
You: “I am continuously analyzing the Prime Minister’s seemingly unexpected response to the situation, diligently. His openly straightforward policies could curiously produce an enormously unforeseen outcome.
Hide your message by burying it under an avalanche of nonsensical adverbs and distasteful filler.
I believe the biggest criticism of this technique is that nobody cares about your usage of adverbs.
It’s true. No one will lambaste you for using them. That’s because there is zero standard for good conversation. Anyone can hurl slang, break convention, use inflection and regurgitate incomplete sentences.
Google: How to have a conversation
Millions of articles focusing on the transfer of ideas, never the method of transfer itself. This is why I built this site: To focus on both.
We strive to our utmost potential. As vast as it is, you must concentrate on the areas that matter most. If you are reading this, then you realize to importance of speech- the importance of conversation.
You realize it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it.
Nobody cares if you break conversational ‘convention’, but they recognize bad conversation. Likewise, they are aware (subconsciously) of a strong conversationalist. That’s what this site aims to do: maximize the potential of the English language.
Strong verbs stronger meaning, imagery, and connotation. Adverbs have their place. I’ll write an article about its uses. However, if you want to capture the listener’s attention and command presence, don’t succumb to describing the verb. Don’t water it down. Distill to its purest essence. Capture the imagination.
I’m curious: What is your most-used adverb?
Leave a comment down below!
Also, check out our Youtube Channel for examples of conversational techniques!
“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. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.”
Dead poets society