A Very Useless Word
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Hi, I'm Britt Abel from the department of German and Russian Studies and I'm standing here next to this statue of Lucy because she once wrote a book report that gets to the heart of this micro-lecture, "A Very Useless Word." When Lucy needs to write 100 words about Peter Rabbit she peppers her work liberally with the word "very" to bulk up the numbers. She ends her report like this: "They were very, very, very, very, very, very, very happy to be home." What Lucy shows here is that the word "very" does not add meaning to the text, it's just an empty filler word. But more than that, the use of the word "very" indicates imprecise writing. If you find you need to use the word "very," then it means you haven't found an adjective strong enough to convey what it is you want to say. So here's my concrete suggestion: after you've written an essay, go back and see if you've used the word "very." If you have, replace the adjective it modifies with a more powerful, more specific word. You might need to use a dictionary or a thesaurus to do that. But remember, no matter what language you write in, the word "very" does not add strength to your writing, so get rid of it. Good luck and write well.