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  • Monica Jones

Very is VERY boring...



Liven up your English by cutting out ‘very’

“So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose” said actor Robin Williams to his class full of students in the movie Dead Poet’s Society. ‘Very’ is commonly overused and, well, just VERY boring…or should we say drab, colorless, dull or uninteresting? In order to enrich your conversations in English try using more colorful, vibrant, intriguing adjectives, such as delicious instead of very tasty, terrified instead of very afraid, and awful instead of very bad. Today we’re going to give you a fascinating list of 30 common adjectives and alternative words to use in order to jazz up your English speaking game!


Able: capable of doing something

· Luckily, their truck was able to make it up the driveway during that horrific snow storm last night.

· Alternative: competent, capable, qualified, suitable, cut out for

Available: free or ready to do something

· I’m available all day until five o’clock to have the meeting.

· Alternative: accessible, attainable, acquirable, procurable, free, vacant

Beautiful: having qualities that are pleasing to the senses

· You made a beautiful shot at the end of your basketball game!

· Alternative: attractive, gorgeous, handsome (generally used for men), lovely, stunning

Better: more satisfactory, pleasant or of higher quality

· When we went to the doctor’s appointment the results were better than we expected.

· Alternative: greater, improved, surpassing, of higher quality, preferable

Certain: without doubt, knowing something is true or correct

· Are you absolutely certain that you saw her at the movies last night?

· Alternative: assured, confident, doubtless, positive, sure, definite

Different: not the same as another

· We had talked about this on two different occasions.

· Alternative: unusual, distinct, dissimilar, unlike, unique, uncommon

Difficult: something that is hard to make, do, or accomplish

· She’s always had a difficult time with paying attention during class.

· Alternative: strenuous, tough, arduous, demanding, challenging

Easy: requiring little effort or thought

· After he studied so hard for the test, it was easy for him to get an A+.

· Alternative: effortless, simple, straightforward, uncomplicated, undemanding

Free (1): not costing or charging anything

· All the ladies were admitted into the night club for free.

· Alternative: no-cost, complimentary, free of charge or cost

Free (2): not under the control of another person or thing

· Even though it’s considered a free country with a lot of opportunities for upward mobility, many people feel trapped by their student loan debt

· Alternative: autonomous, independent, sovereign, unconfined

Friendly: acting in a kind or pleasant way toward someone

· As long as it’s just a friendly debate then there’s no need for anyone to get upset.

· Alternative: amicable, warm, approachable, sociable, outgoing

Funny (1): causing amusement or laughter

· I couldn’t tell if she was serious or she was just trying to be funny.

· Alternative: hilarious, comical, entertaining, amusing, humorous

Funny (2): strange, odd or difficult to understand

· I still can’t figure out why my car keeps making funny noises when I turn it on.

· Alternative: absurd, unusual, peculiar, weird, bizarre

General: concerned with universal rather than specific aspects/common characteristics of a group of similar individuals or items

· The general mood at the party was very upbeat and lively.

· Alternative: overall, universal, common, generic, across-the-board

Important: necessary or of great value

· It’s important to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds so you can avoid getting sick.

· Alternative: significant, principal, main, critical, crucial, essential, vital

Interesting: holding ones attention or arousing curiosity

· It will be interesting to see what they finally decide about the stimulus package.

· Alternative: Engaging, engrossing, intriguing, riveting, enthralling

Large: above average or big in size or amount

· There was a larger-than-expected increase in unemployment this year.

· Alternative: astronomical, enormous, gigantic, huge, ginormous (informal)

Likely: a high probability of occurring or being true

· How likely would someone be to buy a car from him if he wasn’t dressed professionally?

· Alternative: probable, possible, potential, conceivable, plausible

Major: of great importance or interest

· The major issue here is that we’re going to miss our flight if we don’t hurry.

· Alternative: significant, main, influential, important, key, principal

New: someone or something that recently came into existence

· There are so many new places she wants to visit, which makes it hard for her to just choose one.

· Alternative: recent, modern, original, fresh, novel

Old: having lived or existed for many years

· My dad likes to tell really old jokes that we’ve all heard hundreds of times before.

· Alternative: aged, elderly, ancient, previous, former

Popular: commonly liked, approved or admired

· Although that’s a very popular belief, it’s not necessarily true.

· Alternative: well liked, favored, common, preferred, famous

Possible (1): able to be done or achieved

· It was possible to see the Milky Way since the atmospheric conditions were right.

· Alternative: achievable, attainable, feasible, viable, doable

Possible (2): something which may or may not happen

· We’ve found a possible housing site, but we’re still waiting for the owner to assure us that we can move.

· Alternative: potential, probable, likely, plausible, conceivable

Recent: happening or starting from a short time ago

· Have you been following the recent news articles about the presidential candidate?

· Alternative: new, the latest, current, present-day, to date

Right: something or someone that is correct, just, or proper

· “I think you’re absolutely right,” agreed Sara.

· Alternative: correct, accurate, precise, appropriate, legitimate

Same: someone or something that is exactly like another person or thing

· I’m drinking the same tea as her, but I put honey and lemon in mine.

· Alternative: identical, equal, duplicate, equivalent, matching

Social: friendly companionship or relationships

· We have several social events to go to this week, so we’ll probably spend the weekend at home.

· Alternative: communal, neighborly, friendly, extroverted

Special: unusual or distinguishable quality

· Every New Year’s we make a special effort to fulfill our goals for the upcoming year.

· Alternative: unique, distinct, unmatched, particular, exceptional

Strong: having a large amount of power or resources

· There’s strong evidence that he was trying to convince him to stay at the company despite what his colleagues say.

· Alternative: muscular, rugged, powerful, mighty, sturdy, robust, firm

Ugly: not attractive, unpleasant to any sense

· The environment changed into a very ugly situation when we started discussing politics.

· Alternative: unattractive, unsightly, unpleasant, hideous, disgusting

Useful: helping to achieve or do something

· The information you gave us in order to truly comprehend the severity of the situation was useful.

· Alternative: effective, helpful, valuable, beneficial, practical

Young: first or early stage of life or development

· The women’s basketball team had several young players who showed a lot of potential.

· Alternative: adolescent, juvenile, immature, emergent, undeveloped

After reading this list you may still wonder, “But, why is it so important not to use the word ‘very’? The key reason for varying your speech is not only to make your conversation in English more engaging, but so you don’t overuse one single word, like ‘very.’ This can make what you say lose its original impact or meaning. Language isn’t about stagnation and monotony, rather it’s about communicating your thoughts and opinions in a way that captivates your listener. So, the next time you want to tell someone about a thrilling story, make sure to mix it up with some amusing adjectives from this blog!

*Note: The original quote Robin Williams used is from the Dead Poet’s Society book author, Nancy H. Kleinbaum.

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