Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Knowledge Tuesdays: Adverbs Don’t Always End in –ly


As writers, we’re often told to get rid of adverbs. To some extent, I agree with that statement. If we can find a stronger verb, then we should. If we can show the action instead of tell using an adverb, we should. It’ll make our writing stronger. Can you get rid of every adverb? Honestly, I think not, and I don’t think we should try either.

So what are adverbs?

An adverb is a part of speech. It is any word that modifies any part of speech or other verbs other than a noun (modifiers of nouns are primarily adjectives and determiners). Adverbs can modify verbs, adjectives (including numbers), clauses, sentences and other adverbs.

Adverbs typically answer questions such as how? (adverbs of manner), in what way? (adverbs of frequency), when? (adverbs of time), where? (adverbs of place), and to what extent? (adverbs of purpose). This function is called the adverbial function, and is realized not just by single words (i.e., adverbs) but by adverbial phrases and adverbial clauses. Side note: In Latin class, we always had to break up a sentence and tell the parts of speech. I remember the adverbial clauses/phrases the best because we had to not only say whether or not it was an adverb but what type. Of course, I was a bit of a know-it-all and corrected the teacher a time or two on them and was known as “Miss Smarty Pants” or “The Genius.” So embarrassing!
  
Here is a list of common adverbs. It’s a long one that goes on for eight pages, and I’m sure we’ve all used some of them in our writing.

So what are your feelings about adverbs in writing?

10 comments:

Aubrie said...

Now and then I'll use one, but I'm using them a lot less than I used to. Thank goodness!

Lindsey Duncan said...

I don't use a lot, but for me, some of them are fine - primarily when the alternative is torquing the sentence out of whack just to use a different form of the same thing.

Kerri Cuev said...

I use them sparingly. LOL. Thanks for the list. I really love posts like this!

Christine Rains said...

I have cut down my use of adverbs. I've done the same with adjectives. It's all about describing things in a concise way. Years ago, I used far too many!

Jack Edwards Poetry said...

I was also taught to limit the number of adverbs I use. I try and use as few as possible and be as specific and as strong as possible in my descriptions. Great post btw.

Austin James said...

I only like adverbs if they really serve a purpose.

I suppose I could have written:

I like adverbs if they serve a purpose.

Jennifer Hillier said...

I don't mean to, but I find I use a lot of adverbs in my first drafts when my focus is just getting the story down as fast as possible. But I cut most of them in subsequent drafts... though not all, because sometimes they just work. :)

Alleged Author said...

Yuppers! However, people don't find the non -ly adverbs to be as annoying. :P Great post!

Lisa Potts said...

My first drafts are riddled with them, but I try to cut most of them in revisions.

Love that you were known as "Miss Smarty Pants"!

Nicole Zoltack said...

I'm like Lisa, my first draft has a lot and when I edit, I remove all the ones that aren't necessary by using a stronger noun or verb. But I don't remove them all.