Sunday, August 22, 2010

In Defense of Adverbs

Adverbs have been demoted as a valued part of speech - sort of gone the way of Pluto as a planet. It's too bad, actually, as adverbs definitely have their place in the language. Mostly, their demotion is confined to dialogue tags, those parts of conversation peppered with "he said" and "she said." According to the industry standard today, writers are to use said as opposed to chortled, snarled, argued, growled, burbled, and a host of other verbs that indicate state of mind. The thinking is that readers tend to expect said  and pass over it as they read, while more energetic verbs cause readers to pause and digest your verbiage instead of plowing relentlessly onward through your characters' conversations.

Times change. Tom Swift, hero of a previous generation, liberally interspersed adverbs throughout. Tom Swifties became so much a part of the culture that people enjoyed bantering them about. Anyone out there have a favorite Tom Swiftie to share?

Anyhow, adverbs as a part of speech (there are eight of them, if you still remember your 8th grade English), have been relegated to the back shelf. I am violently opposed to the current practive. Definitely opposed. If this were a conversation, I'd state that over and over again.


  1. Uh oh. Our first friendly disagreement. I actually do a remarkably efficient "Find" on the deadly letters ly and hunt the beastly devils down. Then I happily delete them. :)


  2. Do you do this carefully?

    heh heh