Easy on the Adjectives and Adverbs

ketchup bottle

This writing lesson works hand in hand with the recent writing assignment idea I posted on writing description without adjectives and adverbs.


Imagine taking a friend to a fancy restaurant.  After consulting the waiter, he orders the chef’s expensive specialty dish. When the savory work of art arrives, he asks the startled waiter for a bottle of ketchup, and proceeds to drown the entire dish with half a bottle of Heinz.

“What?!” he replies to your wide-eyed stare. “I like ketchup!”

I like ketchup too. On hamburgers and french fries. In small doses.  The idea of eating a spoonful of ketchup is nauseating. Why? Because ketchup is a condiment—a food item designed to complement the flavor of other foods. Condiments are supposed to enhance the flavor of the main dish, not be the main dish.

That’s a good way to think about adjectives and adverbs. They are perfectly good words which serve a useful purpose. But they are meant to complement the words they modify, not dominate sentences. They work best in small doses.

Inexperienced writers, particularly when writing description, tend to overdose on modifiers. They feel that to really describe something, it is necessary to string together descriptive words:

The big, brown, hairy spider crawled very slowly and quietly along the thickly carpeted floor.

 This sentence certainly describes, but it is difficult and dull.  Be selective in your use of adjectives and adverbs. In fact, if you are focusing on using concrete nouns and vivid verbs, you will be able to eliminate most of the modifiers you’ve been depending on.

The tarantula crept silently across the carpet.

Here’s a simple rule of thumb to remember:

 Write with nouns and verbs.

Adjectives and adverbs are not wrong, but they are often the easy way out.  Do the hard work of finding the perfect noun or verb and you can improve the power of your language and eliminate some excess fat from your writing.  Trust your nouns and verbs. Resist the urge to color each with a modifier: “My athletic brother and his playful dog wrestled lovingly in the green grass.”

That’s a gourmet meal smothered in ketchup.


Like this article? Please consider sharing it or subscribing to our weekly email update! Post any comments and questions below. Bloggers love comments.

About the Author

Brian Wasko

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

  1. bactefort

    There is noticeably a lot to identify about this. I feel you made certain good points in features also.

  2. skartec digital marketing academy
    skartec digital marketing academy03-24-2017

    I was recommended this blog by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my difficulty. You are incredible! Thanks!

  3. mobil tillbehor
    mobil tillbehor03-24-2017

    Well I really liked reading it. This article provided by you is very useful for accurate planning.

  4. south pasadena real estate company
    south pasadena real estate company03-23-2017

    You need to You need to indulge in a contest for just one of the best blogs online. I am going to recommend this web site!

  5. click here
    click here03-22-2017

    Major thanks for the article.Thanks Again. Cool.

  6. click here
    click here03-22-2017

    That is a great tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate info Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!

  7. sicherheitsunternehmen

    spiderman Slots view of Three Gorges | Wonder Travel Blog

  8. important source
    important source03-21-2017

    I really enjoy the article.Really thank you! Keep writing.

  9. you could check here
    you could check here03-21-2017

    Looking forward to reading more. Great article.Really thank you! Really Cool.

  10. browse around here
    browse around here03-20-2017

    Really appreciate you sharing this article.Much thanks again. Fantastic.

  11. funny shirts for boys
    funny shirts for boys03-20-2017

    pretty practical material, overall I think this is really worth a bookmark, thanks

  12. peru tour
    peru tour03-20-2017

    Muchos Gracias for your post.Thanks Again. Awesome.

  13. divinelipstick.com

    Terrific work! This is the type of info that should be shared across the web. Disgrace on Google for no longer positioning this put up higher! Come on over and discuss with my web site. Thank you =)

  14. Alternative News
    Alternative News03-20-2017

    Your style is so unique in comparison to other folks I ave read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you ave got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this blog.

  15. arizona marijuana dispensary
    arizona marijuana dispensary03-19-2017

    logiciel gestion finance logiciel blackberry desktop software

  16. Google

    Please take a look at the web pages we follow, which includes this 1, because it represents our picks in the web.

  17. look this now
    look this now03-17-2017

    Lovely website! I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more. I am taking your feeds also

  18. jav streaming
    jav streaming03-17-2017

    Looking forward to reading more. Great blog post. Really Great.

  19. Kansas City Mudjacking
    Kansas City Mudjacking03-17-2017

    That is a beautiful picture with very good light -)

  20. แม่บ้าน

    Just added your website to my list of price reading blogs

  21. แม่บ้าน

    Thanks a lot for the blog article.Really thank you! Fantastic.

  22. Aesthetics lifestyle
    Aesthetics lifestyle03-16-2017

    Major thankies for the blog post.Thanks Again. Really Great.

  23. play online casino
    play online casino03-16-2017

    This is one awesome blog.Really looking forward to read more. Want more.

  24. socialdad.ca

    It as actually a wonderful and handy section of data. Now i am satisfied that you choose to discussed this useful details about. Remember to stop us educated like this. Many thanks for revealing.

  25. male performance enhancers
    male performance enhancers03-15-2017

    You completed various fine points there. I did a search on the topic and found most folks will have the same opinion with your blog.

  26. Kathy

    Looking forward to reading more. Great article.Really thank you! Much obliged.

  27. visit website
    visit website03-15-2017

    Online Article Every so often in a while we choose blogs that we read. Listed underneath are the latest sites that we choose

  28. dorset boutique hotels
    dorset boutique hotels03-14-2017

    Great blog. Cool.

  29. weight loss methods
    weight loss methods03-13-2017

    I?аАТ’аЂа†ll right away seize your rss feed as I can not find your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service. Do you ave any? Kindly permit me know so that I could subscribe. Thanks.

  30. genetic Test
    genetic Test03-12-2017

    Say, you got a nice blog article. Keep writing.

  31. Hotel booking
    Hotel booking03-12-2017

    Wow, great article post.Much thanks again. Fantastic.

  32. World class university
    World class university03-10-2017

    Thank you for your blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Cool.

  33. app download for windows 8
    app download for windows 803-10-2017

    Your blog is amazing dude. i love to visit it everyday. very nice layout and content

  34. technology

    This blog is really educating additionally amusing. I have discovered many handy tips out of this amazing blog. I ad love to come back again and again. Cheers!

  35. Knoblauchpresse Vergleich
    Knoblauchpresse Vergleich03-10-2017

    Really good article! Also visit my blog about Clomid challenge test

  36. best sneakers
    best sneakers03-10-2017

    I was really confused, and this answered all my questions.

  37. Alinda

    This blog is definitely entertaining and also factual. I have picked a bunch of helpful advices out of this source. I ad love to come back again and again. Thanks!

  38. read more
    read more03-10-2017

    Say, you got a nice blog.Really looking forward to read more. Really Cool.

  39. bad hard drive south jordan
    bad hard drive south jordan03-10-2017

    Major thanks for the article.Really thank you!

  40. Jual Follower Instagram
    Jual Follower Instagram03-10-2017

    I’а†ve recently started a web site, the information you offer on this site has helped me greatly. Thanks for all of your time & work.

  41. Football

    This blog is without a doubt interesting and amusing. I have discovered many useful advices out of this blog. I ad love to return over and over again. Thanks a lot!

  42. read more her
    read more her03-10-2017

    A round of applause for your blog post.Thanks Again.

  43. fashion book review in Italy
    fashion book review in Italy03-08-2017

    Thank you for your post.Thanks Again. Cool.

  44. pregalvanised pipes chennai tamilnadu india
    pregalvanised pipes chennai tamilnadu india03-08-2017

    Looking forward to reading more. Great post.Really looking forward to read more. Cool.

  45. Toy kermesse
    Toy kermesse03-07-2017

    Your style is so unique in comparison to other folks I have read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you ave got the opportunity, Guess I all just book mark this page.

  46. mohawk

    Saved as a favorite, I really like your site!

  47. Get book reviews
    Get book reviews03-07-2017

    This is one awesome blog.Thanks Again. Fantastic.

  48. Jyotish

    you all find lots of superior family resorts that you can come across both online and offline, some are pretty cheap also..

  49. free sports betting picks blog
    free sports betting picks blog03-07-2017

    in accession capital to assert that I acquire in fact enjoyed account

  50. darceky

    You might have a very great layout for your blog i want it to utilize on my web-site also.

  51. click to search
    click to search03-07-2017

    That is a really very good go through for me, Should admit that you just are one particular of the best bloggers I ever saw.Thanks for posting this informative write-up.

  52. More about the author
    More about the author03-06-2017

    Thanks for the blog article. Really Great.

  53. Samsung_Galaxy

    Really appreciate you sharing this post.Much thanks again. Great.

  54. Maralyn

    Say, you got a nice blog post. Keep writing.

  55. London venues
    London venues03-06-2017

    Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic article post.Really looking forward to read more.

  56. love anal
    love anal03-05-2017

    Wq0mTu womens ray ban sunglasses ??????30????????????????5??????????????? | ????????

Leave a Reply

If you like a post, please take a second to click "like," and comment as often as you like.
We promise not to correct your grammar!