Be Very Interesting: Avoid ‘Very’

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The word very is overused, as I mentioned previously. There are so many other intensifiers (adverbs to make adjectives and verbs stronger) and mitigators (adverbs to make adjectives and verbs weaker) that can make your English sound far more interesting. You are not a boring person in your native language, so don’t sound boring in English.

    Alternatives to ‘very’:

  • amazingly
  • extremely
  • incredibly
  • remarkably
  • significantly
  • so
  • truly
    Alternatives to ‘not very’:

  • not incredibly
  • not so
  • not terribly

The alternatives to ‘not very’ make a much shorter list because other than those three, everything else sounds a little unnatural or has a lot of exceptional cases making it incredibly difficult to use.

The British Council has an extremely helpful page about this on their website.

Edit Overused Words in Your Writing

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When students ask me how to improve their writing the first thing I tell them is to read more and copy the style. After that, I usually tell them to change ‘good’/’better’/’best’ a few times and delete or change ‘very’. Why? They are overused and – most of the time – not precise enough.

Is something simply ‘good’ or is it ‘pleasant’? Is it ‘very good’ or is it ‘excellent’? Is it ‘the best’ or ‘the most appropriate’? Is it ‘better’ or ‘more suitable’?

If you use the words good, bad, very or nice in your writing, read it again to check that your meaning is clear enough. You could even search for alternatives on Word Hippo.