The Short on Adverbs | Go!…quietly.

by Jade Handy on August 2, 2016

7276634946_a8b31cfb80Why ‘Go!…quietly.’? Two reasons.

Universal experience. We’ve all said it or heard it.

And, what parent hasn’t had the occasion of commanding their children, only to get that sinking ‘oh shit’ feeling immediately afterward because you just realized you didn’t put enough ground rules in place. You knew instantly from past experience that you just gave them too much liberty. Quietly.

The miracle is the adverbs. The way things are done.
Daniel Handler, Adverbs

So, adverbs define how verbs are to be executed. The same way adjectives define nouns. Masterfully. Without adverbs, ideas can get out of control quickly.

Someone can break your heart, leave you dead on the lawn, and still you never learn what to say to stop it all over again.
Daniel Handler, Adverbs

I remember as a child saying, “I’m going hit you three ways.” Oh yeah. “Yeah–hard, fast and continuously.” I wanted my sometimes humorous warning to invoke the right image. For some people, the image of just getting hit isn’t enough to create aversion, unfortunately.

I adore adverbs; they are the only qualifications I really much respect. – Henry James, American writer

Go – confidently – in the direction of your dreams. Not willy-nilly, right.

Go west young man. How? See how the West turned out…

But, adverbs get a bad rap. Especially when compared to adjectives with whom they are almost always paired with, oddly. Just Google ‘quotes with adverbs’ and you’ll see.

Adjectives are the sugar of literature and adverbs the salt. – also Henry James seemingly contradictorily

Whoever said “Cross out as many adjectives and adverbs as you can.” wasn’t a American capitalist, clearly.

All you have to do is listen to who or what gets you to take action on a regular basis or predictably. Notice the adverbs. They’re there, trust me.

Where do they position adjectives – I’m seriously curious. At the beginning? “It is with great honor that I present to you…” Or, do they strategically place them right before the verb? Are they placed controllingly right after the verb? At the end of the sentence, modifyingly?

Ask the English Teacher says “In general, we should put adverbs as close as possible to the verbs (or adjectives) that they modify.” Wait for the ‘but’ … “But here is a remarkable thing about English sentences: The reader pays most attention to the beginning and end of a sentence.” Aha! So, what do you want them paying the most attention to? And further when persuading, do you most want them to pay attention to just what to do, …or how to do it?

So much for this The Short being short in terms of words or time spent. ugh… The lengths I won’t go to. Normally I wouldn’t beat a dead horse with obvious repetitions such as my use of -ly as I have in this post, but I do when I need to drive home a point.

Look, at the end of the day all I’m saying is adverbs are there for a reason – they work. ▚


The innuendo behind “Whoever said…” is two-fold. Anton Chekhov ☭ while a revered author, he’s not an American. And, therefore not an American capitalist. My snarky point is adverbs do improve persuasion and sales regardless of academic literary stylistic preferences. Which, in turn, helps our economy, measurably.

–Meta Post–

Can you spot any of the rhetorical devices and persuasive elements used in this post? Paralipsis, rhyme, words that invoke the feeling, two-word utterances, cliché, idiom, trope –oh hell– here’s a more exhaustive list of rhetorical devices!

Photo Credit: quinn.anya via Compfight cc (even though I wanted to use Floyd Maud’Dib’s)

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