Monday, March 26, 2007

Re: Adverbs

Ok, so a bunch of people have posted on the recent link entry asking why adverbs are bad. The reason why is they're lazy. Not all the time, but there are plenty of times when people use adverbs instead of good description.

You could say "Tom shook angrily as he talked to Bob" or you could say
"The vein on Tom's head seemed to throb with every stacatto word"
One sentence tells that he's angry, the other shows it.

On another note:
Tom Swift novels are famous for their humorous use of adverbs. A "Tom Swifty" or two [via wikipedia]:
"I manufacture tabletops," said Tom counterproductively.
"I dropped the toothpaste," said Tom, crestfallen.
"I can't remember what I was supposed to buy," said Tom listlessly.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about Joel's example of "technical" usage?

11:15 PM  
Blogger AHFB said...

fine by me

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adverbs are really useful when writing academic prose. For example, in let's say a history or philosophy paper, when you're writing analytical phrases or paragraphs, "showing" action is secondary to communicating a specific point in concise and clear academic statements.
Adverbs also have connotations sometimes not expressed in wordy clauses that show the action. And about adverbs being "lazy," short, concise, but substantial papers are much harder to write than long ones. Now if you're a creative writing major or something, I can see how adverbs would be shunned, but as long as there are other writing styles and expectation I'll gladly and frequently use adverbially describe actions.

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

delete "use" from that last sentence

12:16 AM  
Anonymous ko said...

hehe "crestfallen"

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"i am convinced the road to hell is paved with adverbs."

-stephen king in his quasi-autobiography, "on writing"

if stephen king says it, it must be true.

10:21 PM  
Blogger Joel said...


/also buys whatever Mr. King says

10:51 PM  

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