“Very” is a dangerous word. Mark Twain once gave the following advice to writers:
Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.
American novelist and columnist Florence King was of the same opinion:
‘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.
Whether in writing or speaking, “very” is a good word to avoid. Yes, it has its place when used sparingly. The problem is that many people overuse it. It becomes a crutch. Even worse is the use of “really”. When you use weak modifiers all the time, your writing and speaking become weak.
How can you drop “very” but still emphasize an adjective? Simple; use a better adjective. Jennifer Frost has created an excellent infographic for Grammar Check that lists 147 words that you can use. She has invited me to share it with you.
One thing about the list below. It covers adjectives. But don’t forget that you can apply the same strategy with adverbs. For example, why say “ran very quickly” when you can say “raced” or dashed” or “zoomed”?