NO ADVERBS: The Reason Behind the Rule

Going Verbal

If you’ve read any guide about improving your writing, you’ve heard the “No Adverbs” rule. Cross them out, delete them, take a tiny lighter and burn a hole through every –ly word that dares rear its ugly head until your manuscript looks like Swiss cheese, but don’t you ever, under any circumstances, ever use an adverb!

… Really?

Come on, folks. Adverbs are perfectly functional members of language society. It’s not their fault they’re so easily misused.

Adverbs are descriptors for verbs and adjectives, just like adjectives are descriptors for nouns. They tend to end in –ly, though there are adverbs that don’t (fast, regardless, seldom) and other non-adverb words that do (lovely, imply, gravelly).

(To quote a certain pirate movie: “Hang the code, and hang the rules. They’re more like guidelines anyway.”)

The problem arises when you use an adverb to support a word that’s not pulling…

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