I’m practicing replacing adverbs with strong verbs. I read about few strategies that help replace adverbs. (E.g. this). I understand that a lot of it depends on the context. Adverbs can be removed, replaced with strong verbs, or left as is.
Let’s say, I want to replace the following adverbs with strong verbs. I tried to use online thesaurus but it is not designed for looking up synonyms for adverb + verb combinations.
- hopelessly grabbed
- intensely watched
- intensely looked
- abruptly stopped
- slowly walked
- slowly rotated
- slowly let go
- quickly turned
- quickly closed
- quickly raised
- quickly covered
- firmly secured
- gently pressed
- tightly pressed
- slightly displaced
- rhythmically moved
My approach so far was to take a verb (e.g press) and look up synonyms for it. In this specific case, I can see right away the word “squeeze”. I can confirm that this is the word I need by looking up its definition.
squeeze – firmly press (something soft or yielding), typically with one’s fingers.
Bingo! I can replace “tightly pressed” with “squeezed”. Or “He tightly pressed his lips together.” with “He squeezed his lips together.”
However, this approach doesn’t work well all the time (Actually, it doesn’t work most of the time). E.g. I can’t find anything for “gently pressed”. Also, it is a time consuming process. I understand now why they say: “you are being lazy when you use adverbs” 🙂
I guess, I’m looking for “adverbs replacement dictionary”. Does such a thing exist? Or a good guideline on omitting adverbs.
I have the same questions for the adverbs that describe adjectives:
- perfectly symmetrical
- strikingly similar
- barely visible
Here are a few substitutions for the three examples given:
- barely visible
The paper trail that he left was barely visible.
I think the above sentence is fine. But, if we wanted to substitute another word for “barely visible” we could say something like:
The paper trail that he left was indiscernible/imperceptible.
- Strikingly similar
It depends on what we’re describing here. If it’s something such as resemblance between two brothers we could their similarity was
uncanny or had a
striking resemblance. Depending on the context, it might also make sense to say one
Their political ideology had haunting echoes with the totalitarian...) the other or is
congruent with something else. If the items in question are a perfect match, you could say
- Perfectly symmetrical
This usage makes sense in some cases, and doesn’t seem unnecessarily verbose to me. For example, an ellipses may be symmetrical along the y-axis, whereas a circle would be perfectly symmetrical (about its origin). Describing this outside of math I might say “perfectly symmetrical” to emphasize that it doesn’t have any limitations in symmetry, but of course without the limitation, it would imply that and I would only say “The shape is symmetrical.”
I suppose it could also be used to emphasize the detail of symmetry in a complex object, such as:
The snowflake was perfectly symmetrical under 1000x magnification, from the patterns on each of its 16 edges, to the...[more detail, etc.]