Adverbs and God

Although it may not be obvious, I try to get better at writing. I will read a couple books on writing every year and I’m always a sucker for “5 Ways to Write Better” blog posts that authors create.

One main reason why I blog regularly is to practice writing and communicating.

A rule of writing I have seen frequently is “avoid using adverbs.”


Adverbs are words that describe verbs. Good writing skips adverbs and uses stronger verbs. For instance:

She loudly put the book down.

is better said

She slammed the book down.

Most adverbs could be eliminated by using a stronger verb. I’ve had this rule beaten into my head since most writing advice will bring it up. I may not do it, but I at least know the rule, which is half the battle.

Adverbs are the enemy. Adverbs are bad. Avoid adverbs. This is the first thing my brain brings up when hearing the word “adverb.” Which is why it struck me the other day when I read this quote:

God loveth adverbs

Are you suggesting that God is a bad writer? What giveth?

It’s an old Puritan quote. As far as I know, the idea behind it is that God wants to know how we do things, not just whether we did it.

I Corinthians 13 seems an easy passage to back that up. You can give all your goods to feed the poor, but if you didn’t give it lovingly (adverb), it profits you nothing.

Being alive in this present world? Not the main issue. Living soberly, righteously, and godly is the big issue.

The adverbs have it. Maybe God could have used stronger verbs? I don’t know. I hesitate being His editor.

3 thoughts on “Adverbs and God”

  1. I’ve never understood the academic antipathy to adverbs. You’ve done better here than most at describing why writing may be stronger without them, but I’ve always more or less lumped the aversion to adverbs in with antipathy toward certain races or ethnic groups–simply narrow, self-limiting, snobbish, and unfair. Peace.

  2. And just to be clear, Jeff, I’m writing about my own feelings regarding the use of adverbs, and not about anyone else’s motives. In other words, I’m not saying or suggesting that your avoidance of adverbs is anything other than a desire to write well. Peace.

  3. As with most grammar rules, I don’t understand them either! Hemingway didn’t like adverbs, so I think the anti-adverb crowd, thinking that Hemingway was a good writer, decided all good writing should read like Hemingway. I’m not convinced either, but I am a fan of less, but stronger, words, and that is what I try to work on.

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