10 Things We Told You to Stop Doing in 2021

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In a letter to one of his students, Mark Twain once advised: “When you catch an adjective, kill it.” While it’s tempting to gussy up otherwise bland sentences with descriptive words like ominous, cheerful, and courageous, when we overuse them, they have the opposite effect of weakening our meaning. Instead, choose more descriptive adjectives (uncouth instead of rude) or a more illustrative noun (jalopy instead of old car).

The same goes for adverbs (think: really, very, actually, quite, literally). They don’t add much, if anything. You may not be able to change your whole life in 2022, but you can certainly resolve to replacing weak verb-adverb pairs with more descriptive, standalone verbs, can’t you? For example, instead of, Uncle Roger drank quickly try Uncle Roger over-served himself.

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