Monday, June 1, 2015

A Week Without "Very"

Ah, the word "very."  As we know, there is much discussion about this little word in writing circles.  Let's start off with a few well known quotes about writing this word "very" ...

"So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy.  A man is not very tired, he is exhausted.  Don’t use very sad, use morose," spoken by the character John Keating in the Dead Poets Society.  And there is this one, the first version of which was most likely the product of William Allen White, "Never use the word, ‘very.’ It is the weakest word in the English language; doesn’t mean anything. If you feel the urge of ‘very’ coming on, just write the word, ‘damn,’ in the place of ‘very.’ The editor will strike out the word, ‘damn,’ and you will have a good sentence.”

I use the word "very" a great deal when I am speaking.  I hear it plenty from friends, family, in various media, at work, etc.  Yet the word is so vilified in writing.  Somehow, I wanted investigate the strange phenomenon of "very."  I kicked around a few ideas and finally settled on the concept of just not using it for a week, either in writing or speaking, unless as a direct reference.  

I'm not sure I can do it, actually, and I keep re-reading my post here to see if it has found its way in somehow.  I have a feeling this will be an interesting week.

What do I hope to learn?  I'm not exactly certain.  Perhaps there will be a difference in how hard it is to avoid in speech versus writing.  Maybe I'll give it up easily and gleefully.  Maybe avoiding it will be irritating and I'll stop after three days.  Not sure.  But let's give it a try, anyway.

Image Credit - Me and my awesome Power Point skills