Friday, June 4, 2010

In defense of adverbs...

Nicola Morgan over at "Help! I Need a Publisher!" has a great post up about using adverbs lazily, and why we shouldn't do it - but why adverbs are so often unfairly maligned. You can find it here.

This fits in well with my general philosophy of grammar: know precisely what grammar does for you, so that you can use it to your advantage when you want, and not let it ambush you from behind.


  1. I liked that. Finally, a sensible approach to adverbs. Just like salt, a sprinkle is needed to season the writing, but too much makes it unpalatable.

  2. "Unfairly." Heh. ;)

    I try to avoid adverbs at all costs. There's a need for them occasionally, but I'd much rather not use them if at all possible. The English language sounds the best when it's used the least.

  3. JDsg,
    I'm guessing you try to avoid -ly adverbs at all costs. Adverbs take many forms, and serve a pretty important function in English. If you prefer simplicity of prose, that's a perfectly valid stylistic choice, but part of the reason I like Nicola Morgan's article is that I think people often waste time worrying about adverbs as if they were not legitimate elements of English grammar.

  4. You're correct in that adverbs are perfectly legitimate and, to be honest, almost impossible to avoid in one form or another. I do prefer simplicity of prose as a stylistic choice, not only because I think it sounds the best, but because I think that style helps people to understand what I'm trying to say more easily. But that's just me and I wouldn't expect everyone to follow that style. Some people can write in a florid style, for example, and make that writing sound wonderful.