The four letter word you need to avoid to make your writing great

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The four letter word you need to avoid to make your writing great

When writing we always want to be descriptive and in business we’re conditioned to make sure that we pitch everything as the best it can be. There is no mediocre service offered by any business, only the very best.

Yet those four letters – V.E.R.Y. – can significantly dilute the impact of your writing.

Apparently I’m in tune with Mark Twain on this point, who wrote that if you substitute very for damn an editor will always remove it and your writing will be just as it should be.

I’ve written before about being a fan of brevity. Why use two words when one will do? So as my gift to you, here are a few suggestions for how you can both decrease your paragraphs and increase your impact, simply by refusing to use the word “very”.

You want to say –       very beautiful

Instead use –               exquisite, dazzling, striking, alluring – immediately these words create pictures in the mind’s eye and resonate because they are seldom used.

You want to say –       very good

Instead use –               superb, exceptional, outstanding, brilliant – because a superlative is always going to sound better than “very good”

You want to say –       very bad

Instead use –             atrocious, appalling, dreadful, awful, horrific – useful for your customer complaints letters and sure to hit the spot

You want to say –       very quick

Instead use –              rapid, swift, expeditious – these words have much more impact; you can almost feel their energy

You want to say –       very happy

Instead use –               delighted, thrilled, elated, ecstatic – much more impact, don’t you think?

We’ve created a graphic of very good (sorry, couldn’t help it!) substitutes for you to use as inspiration to improve your writing. Feel free to refer to it regularly (very often?)


By |2019-06-19T11:46:02+00:00June 19th, 2019|language, Writing|0 Comments

About the Author:

Louise Turner
Louise is #sorrynotsorry that she asks so many questions and believes it’s the questions you don’t ask (that probably lead to the mistakes you do make) that you should say sorry for. A former media and communications manager in the public and private sector, Louise has crafted words for all kinds of organisations, from one of the world’s largest outsourcers to one of Yorkshire’s smallest but most sparkly jewellers. She truly believes that variety is the spice of life and is always looking to add clients from new sectors to her portfolio. When she’s not at her laptop Louise loves to spend time with her family, often in the outdoors, sometimes in a tent. She’s also a big fan of gin and sleep, but doesn’t get enough of either.

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