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First, We Kill the Adverbs!

James Azadian

First, We Kill the Adverbs!
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Bestselling author Stephen King has said, “The adverb is not your friend.” And Justice Kennedy has noted, “I think adverbs are a cop-out. They’re a way for you to qualify, and if you don’t use them, it forces you to think through the conclusion of your sentence. And it forces you to confront the significance of your word choice, the importance of your diction.”

A quick and easy way to tighten your legal writing and make it more persuasive to judges and their law clerks is to eliminate intensifier adverbs. Words such as “absolutely,” “clearly,” “obviously,” “really,” and “very.” Useless adverbs violate the “show, don’t tell” principle. They do not make an argument stronger, they are a distraction, and eliminating them helps your legal writing become more focused.