- On June 12, 2016
“Very is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen. For example, would you rather hear the mincing shallowness of I love you very much or the heart-slamming intensity of I love you?”
Anyone who’s been in one of my writing workshops knows this is one of my favorite quotes. It’s attributed to a writer named Florence King, who died last week.
While it’s true that we don’t sit at our desks deliberating between I love you very much and I love you, we do tend to modify a lot of things we write with very. I’m not sure it flat out weakens our statements, but it sure doesn’t add anything either. When you read the following examples, strike the word very and you’ll see—and hear—why.
• We are very clear on our plan for the future.
• Health systems use hundreds of customized scheduling templates, making it very difficult to ensure staff productivity.
• We are very grateful for his service and leadership.
• Laphroaig is a 200-year-old Scottish distillery known for its very strong single malt scotch.
• A good mentor listens very closely to what his mentee is saying.
• To create a good customer experience for our users, I feel very strongly that we spend time being customers ourselves.
• We are very excited to have him join the company.