stop saying "very" to sound smarter

Stop saying "very" to start sounding smarter

May 12, 2023
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How often do you use the word "very" in an average day? Chances are, you use it multiple times in an average hour.

Maybe you're very curious to learn where this very on-point article will go because you're very interested in learning new things.

See what we mean?

Filler words, like "very," are a crutch that many people lean on, often without realizing it. But they can negatively impact how your communication is received. So if you're interested in learning how to improve your vocabulary to sound smarter, keep reading for some actionable recommendations.

Improve your vocabulary by banishing the word "very"

Using the word "very" can make your speech and writing feel repetitive and unimaginative. It can also create a negative perception in others' minds. That's because when you use "very," it can come across as lazy or uneducated, which can undermine the credibility of your overall message. And it reveals that your vocabulary may be a little basic.

Instead, try to intentionally learn and use more descriptive words to communicate with more clarity, flair, and sophistication.

For example, consider these two sentences:

  • The sunset was very beautiful.
  • The sunset was breathtaking.

Which sentence do you think creates a stronger mental image? By eliminating "very" in favor of a more descriptive word, like "breathtaking," you're able to paint a more vivid picture. This not only engages your audience more fully, but it also shows that you've taken time to carefully select your words and craft your message.

Alternatives to "very" phrases

So now you know why you should stop saying "very." But how do you actually do it?

Here's a quick cheat sheet of alternatives to common "very" phrases to help you start sounding smarter right away:

  • Very bad = Horrible
  • Very good = Wonderful
  • Very loud = Deafening
  • Very quiet = Silent
  • Very sad = Devastated
  • Very happy = Ecstatic
  • Very clean = Spotless
  • Very dirty = Filthy
  • Very big = Enormous
  • Very small = Tiny
  • Very cold = Freezing
  • Very hot = Scorching
  • Very easy = Simple
  • Very hard = Arduous

Can you already start to see how replacing "very" can help you come across as more confident and competent?

Common mistakes to avoid when ditching "very"

While it's a good idea to work toward eliminating "very" from your vocabulary, there are a few common mistakes that you should try to avoid:

Trusting a thesaurus too much

While using a thesaurus can be helpful when looking for alternatives to "very," it's important to understand the meaning of the words you're considering. Choosing a word simply because it sounds impressive can lead to confusion and miscommunication.

For example, if you're writing about a person who is feeling sad, using "disconsolate" instead of "devastated" may not convey the intended message. So make sure you know the definition of any new words before incorporating them into your speech or writing.

Overusing adjectives

While descriptive language can make your messages more engaging, overusing adjectives can have the opposite effect. so instead of relying on adjectives alone, try incorporating more vivid verbs and nouns into your writing, too.

For example, instead of saying "The dress was very beautiful," consider saying "The dress shimmered in the light." This not only eliminates the need for an adjective, but it also creates a stronger visual image.

Ignoring context

When choosing alternative words for "very," it's important to consider the context. Different situations may require different levels of formality or informality.

For example, while "scorching" may be an appropriate alternative for "very hot" in casual conversation or creative writing, it may not be suitable in academic or professional contexts. Always consider your audience and purpose when selecting alternative words for "very."

Improve your vocabulary by eliminating "very" today

Eliminating "very" from your vocabulary can be challenging, especially if you've been using it for years.

One way to practice eliminating "very" from your vocabulary is to read aloud whatever you write. As you read, note any instances where you used the word "very," and replace it with a more descriptive word. This will help you become more aware of how often you use this filler word and give you the opportunity to make your writing more vivid and engaging.

Additionally, having an accountability partner can also help. Tell someone you communicate with often that you're trying to stop saying "very," and ask them to call you out on it every time you slip.

And finally, the Elevate brain training app is another helpful tool that can improve your vocabulary and teach you creative alternatives for "very" phrases. Through interactive, engaging brain games, you can learn and practice using new vocabulary words in just 5 minutes a day. And you can get started right now for free by downloading Elevate on iOS or Android!

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