Adverbs: friend or foe?

I would daresay that nothing is more important to a sentence than its verb.  Verbs are what give a sentence action and propel a story forward.  The right verbs are what make good writing even better.  However, sometimes instead of using strong verbs, we use adverbs to make weaker verbs stronger.  Is that OK?  I would say sometimes, yes, but most of the time, look for adverbs and see if you can find a stronger verb to use instead.

Take a look at these two sentences and see what is stronger:

• The girl aimlessly walked down the hall.
• The girl wandered down the hall.

The first sentence uses an adverb.  While this sentence is not grammatically incorrect, the adverb/verb combination makes it weaker than the second sentence which uses a stronger, more descriptive verb.

Another bonus to replacing adverb/verb combinations with a stronger verb is the writing becomes more concise.  Word count is reduced.  Skilled writers can say more with less.  Minimizing adverb use is one way to do that.

More examples for you showing word count:

• John sipped his water.  (4)
• John slowly drank his water. (5)

• John purposefully walked into the room.  (6)
• John strode into the room. (5)

• She spoke quietly.  (3)
• She whispered.  (2)

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