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Follow-up: Where have all the adverbs gone? And how did they go?

mouthThis came to me by way of the Chicago Manual of Style Facebook feed. I’m not going insane–adverbs are declining, enough so that there’s a whole article in The Guardian from last fall!

Read the article here:

Where have all the adverbs gone? And how did they go?

I’m glad to have found an ally with the writer of the article, Maddie York!

To read my original article addressing this phenomenon, read here.

What do you think? Are adverbs overrated, or ignored?


Danielle M. Villegas is a technical communicator who currently employed at Cox Automotive, Inc., and freelances as her own technical communications consultancy, Dair Communications. She has worked at the International Refugee Committee, MetLife, Novo Nordisk, BASF North America, Merck, and Deloitte, with a background in content strategy, web content management, social media, project management, e-learning, and client services. Danielle is best known in the technical communications world for her blog,, which has continued to flourish since it was launched during her graduate studies at NJIT in 2012. She has presented webinars and seminars for Adobe, the Society for Technical Communication (STC), the IEEE ProComm, TCUK (ISTC) and at Drexel University’s eLearning Conference. She has written articles for the STC Intercom, STC Notebook, the Content Rules blog, and The Content Wrangler as well. She is very active in the STC, as a former chapter president for the STC-Philadelphia Metro Chapter, and is currently serving on three STC Board committees. You can learn more about Danielle on LinkedIn at, on Twitter @techcommgeekmom, or through her blog. All content is the owner's opinions, and does not reflect those of her employers past or present.

One thought on “Follow-up: Where have all the adverbs gone? And how did they go?

  1. Danielle,

    I’m with you on the oddity of people dropping the -ly from adverbs (as in “to speak proper” instead of “to speak properly,” as you point out of your original article, or “slow-roasted pork” instead of “slowly roasted pork,” as the “Guardian” writer points out). That usage amounts to sending in an adjective to do an adverb’s job.

    Your question above (“Are adverbs overrated?”) sends me in a different direction: Should writers avoid adverbs in general? I’d say yes and no.

    Why do I say yes? Because most adverbs that roll out of our brains in a first draft add no value. You can almost always improve your sentence by deleting words like these: actually, truly, frankly, extremely, definitely, totally, really, simply, literally, basically.

    Why do I say no? Because adverbs, creatively used, can add pizzazz. What’s not to love about, say, a fabulously frumpy winter coat? As bestselling writer Arthur Plotnik points out (using an adverb himself to marvelous effect), “joltingly fresh adverbs … are among the hottest locutions in contemporary prose.”*

    *_Spunk & Bite: A Writer’s Guide to Bold, Contemporary Style_ (New York: Random House, 2007), 37.

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