Strunk & White's advises, "Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs." This advice is not intended to say adjectives and adverbs should be completely removed from your writing; the authors add that "they are indispensable parts of speech." Beginning writers often use adverbs as a lazy way to "fix" weak writing. The following adverbs are among the most abused:
1. Basically. With rare exceptions, this word is useless. Remove it from your sentence and see how the sentence suddenly becomes more focused.
2. Slightly. Like its cohort "faintly," this word is used as a lazy way to express the idea of subtlety. Sentences using these words are uniformly dull and lifeless. Consider these examples:
"He looked slightly green."
"He looked faintly green."
Neither conveys a good image of how the person looked. A better alternative:
"He looked queasy."
3. Somewhat. This word sucks all power and color from the word it modifies. Avoid it.
4. Arguably. If you are making an argument, then the reader already knows that what you are saying is "arguably" true—by definition. Most of the time, "arguably" only serves to weaken your point. Similar offenders include "perhaps" and "practically." Be bold in your assertions, and leave out qualifiers. Think about these examples; which one is strongest?
"It is arguably the most..."
"It is perhaps the most..."
"It is practically the most..."
"It is the most..."
5. Very. This word is used more than any other to extend a paper to meet a minimum number of words. Teachers always notice.
6. Extremely. If you need to use this word to make your point come across, then the word it modifies is not strong enough.
7. Whatsoever. This word adds nothing of value.