Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Very makes me sick

I hate the excessive use of the word "very" very, very much.

People write that a man is very tall or very short. A woman is very beautiful. A mountain is very big.

Would a man be taller if he were very tall? If he were just tall, would he be shorter than very tall? Is very beautiful better than beautiful? And is big different from very big.

If a bomb is powerful, it doesn't need very to make it so. "Powerful" is a powerful word.

A colleague once wrote that this guy was a "massive" 6-foot-5, 297-pound tackle. Is there such a thing as a 6-foot-5, 297-pound midget? His height and weight alone tell us that he's pretty big; we don't need massive to add to it. And does a 6-foot-8, 350-pounder deserve "very" more than the 297-pounder?

The solution, of course, is to pick a word that does all of the work, one that doesn't need "very" for emphasis. Very small might become minute; very big might be huge. And if a woman is beautiful, well, that says it all.

Mark Twain once wrote that you should change every instance of "very" in your writing to "damn." The editor would delete all of the damns, and the writing would be as it should be.

He was right. Very can be very, very, very annoying.

Contact: I can be reached at tgilli52@gmail.com or nc3022@yahoo.com. Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.

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