Want to know why you shouldn't use adverbs in your content? Read this article to find out how too many adverbs can ruin your content—and what you can do about it!
Why You Shouldn't Use Adverbs and How to Keep Them at Bay
1. Adverbs tell instead of show.
When it comes to writing web content, it's always better to show and not tell.
Effective content uses words that help your readers paint a picture of what you're describing.
The problem with adverbs is the more you use them, the more telling you do.
Russian writer Anton Chekhov put it well when he said, "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."
The thing is, when you litter your piece with unnecessary adverbs, you end up giving too many descriptions away.
In short, you're spoon-feeding your readers and not leaving much for their imagination.
So, if you want to keep your readers on your page, choose words that engage their imagination.
With the right words, you'll be able to get your message across and still let your readers think for themselves.
How to Revise: Adverbs used to modify verbs often do more telling than showing. While it's best to delete the adverb entirely, try looking for a more precise verb instead. Here's an example:
Andrew walked quickly through the park.
If you removed the word quickly, you'd change the meaning of the entire sentence. Instead, try changing walked into something like these:
- Andrew brisked through the park.
- Andrew sped across the park.
2. Adverbs don't add much to your content.
If you think your descriptions are better with adverbs, think again. Stuffing your writing with adverbs only adds to your word count.
Web content bogged down by too many adverbs can unnecessarily lengthen your article.
And we all know that readers don't have time to read through a 2,000-word essay fluffed-up with adverbs.
Don't get us wrong. There are times when adverbs are necessary for your content.
However, if not appropriately used, adverbs won't add anything meaningful to your content.
How to Revise: The key is to be conscious of using adverbs. As you write your draft, be more direct with your writing. When you find an adverb in your sentence, try removing it and rereading the sentence. If it makes sense, remove the adverb altogether. However, when removing the adverb makes the sentence weak, rephrase the sentence, and use a better expression.
3. Adverbs muddle your content's clarity.
One of the golden rules of content is to write it with clarity.
Readers will skip over your content when it's vague and loaded with fluff.
The fastest way to scare readers off of your page is by writing vague content. Don't distract your readers from your point.
The easiest way to distract your readers is with adverbs. Peppering your draft with adverbs sets up roadblocks that keep your readers away from your main message.
Remember, too many adverbs kill your audience's reading experience.
Leading with adverbs buries your point in a ton of words. And when the point is too hard to find, your readers will grow impatient and be gone before you know it.
How to Revise: Don't use adverbs to state the obvious. For example, you don't have to say, "Angela screamed loudly." because screaming, by definition, is a loud act. Using adverbs requires purpose and intent. Don't just use any adverb. Instead, choose the right word to express what you really want to say.
Adverbs aren't all bad. But when misused, adverbs can do more bad than good. If you're not careful, they'll muddle your content's original message and lead your readers astray. So before you publish your content, make sure to proofread and edit to remove all the unnecessary adverbs. This way, your piece can genuinely engage your readers.
Do you know of other tips that can help your fellow writers make better use of adverbs in their work? Hit us up on our social channels (links below!) and let us know!