We often use “very” and “real­ly” for empha­sis. They’re easy to use; we just plop them in front of anoth­er word to give that oth­er word more impact.

For exam­ple, “I’m very hun­gry” tells the read­er I’m not just your run-of-the-mill hun­gry. It’s more than that.

The prob­lem, how­ev­er, is that since this prac­tice is so easy, it can make us lazy. Why think of a more mean­ing­ful way to make your point, when you can make it instan­ta­neous­ly? Even though it does get your point across, some­times the point made los­es its impact.

Often, sin­gle words exist that mean the same thing as your “very” or “real­ly” phras­es. Look at these 4 exam­ples:

  1. Very hun­gry vs. Fam­ished
  2. Real­ly tall vs. Tow­er­ing
  3. Very tired vs. Exhaust­ed
  4. Real­ly hap­py vs. Elat­ed

Notice how in each exam­ple, the impact of the idea is stronger and more emo­tion­al with the sin­gle word. By elim­i­nat­ing “very” and “real­ly” phras­es from your vocab­u­lary and replac­ing them with more pow­er­ful, sin­gle words, your lan­guage can have the same strength and emo­tion as the exam­ples above.

Next time you’re tempt­ed to use “very” or “real­ly”, stop for a moment and con­tem­plate whether a stronger, short­er alter­na­tive already exists.

About Kim Siever

I am a copy­writer and copy­ed­i­tor. I blog on writ­ing tips most­ly, but I some­times throw in my thoughts about run­ning a small busi­ness.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter at @hotpepper.

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