Home > Grammar/Mechanics, Literacy Centers, Study Skills, Writing > Useless Adjectives and Adverbs

Useless Adjectives and Adverbs

Eliminate Writing Crutches

Eliminate Adjective and Adverb Crutches

“‘The amazing author profoundly utilizes many symbols to creatively symbolize his very meaningful ideas.’ What do you think of my concluding statement?”

“You sure use plenty of words to say what you mean, Marci.”

“I do try. My English teacher says that I’m in love with adjectives and adverbs. They are my most favorite and often-used parts of speech.”

Definition and Examples

Writers often use adjectives to make general nouns more interesting or specific. However, readers prefer writing with well-chosen, specific nouns. Example: Instead of absolutely, positively necessary, the writer might say essential. Also, writers may include useless adverbs when more concrete and specific verbs would serve better. Examples: Instead of the runner ran incredibly quickly, the writer might say the runner sprinted.

Read the rules.

  • Writers should avoid using adjectives to make general nouns (people, places, things, or ideas) more interesting or specific. An adjective modifies a noun or pronoun and asks, “How Many, Which One, or What Kind?”
  • Writers should avoid using useless adverbs. An adverb modifies an adjective, adverb, or verb and asks, “What Degree, How, Where, or When?”


Write the following sentences and [bracket] the useless adjectives and adverbs.

  1. The huge sumo-wrestler entered the arena slowly to face his fighting opponent.
  2. The well-trained and experienced navy pilot took off quickly and rapidly from the large aircraft carrier.
  3. Meteorologists carefully studied the devastating impact of the swirling tornado.
  4. He gently sifted the tiny grains of sand through his fingers into the bucket.
  5. Sad mourners attended the funeral service and later after the service witnessed the burial.

Revise the sentence to eliminate useless adjectives and adverbs.

Avoid using very interesting, nice words that contribute little to a sentence.


  1. The [huge] sumo-wrestler entered the arena [slowly] to face his [fighting] opponent.
  2. The [well-trained and experienced] navy pilot took off [quickly and rapidly] from the [large] aircraft carrier.
  3. Meteorologists [carefully] studied the [devastating] impact of the [swirling] tornado.
  4. He [gently] sifted the [tiny] grains of sand through his fingers into the bucket.
  5. [Sad] mourners attended the funeral service and later [after the service] witnessed the burial.

Pennington Publishing's TEACHING ESSAYS BUNDLE


For more essay rules and practice, check out the author’s TEACHING ESSAYS BUNDLE. This curriculum includes 42 essay strategy worksheets corresponding to teach the Common Core State Writing Standards, 8 on-demand writing fluencies, 8 writing process essays (4 argumentative and 4 informative/explanatory), 64  sentence revision and 64 rhetorical stance “openers,” writing posters, and helpful editing resources. 

Differentiate your essay instruction in this comprehensive writing curriculum with remedial writing worksheets, including sentence structure, grammar, thesis statements, errors in reasoning, and transitions.

Plus, get an e-comment bank of 438 prescriptive writing responses with an link to insert into Microsoft Word® for easy e-grading (works great with Google Docs),

Download the following 24 FREE Writing Style Posters to help your students learn the essay rules. Each has a funny or ironic statement (akin to “Let’s eat Grandma) to teach the memorable rule. 

Get the Writing Style Posters FREE Resource:

Grammar/Mechanics, Literacy Centers, Study Skills, Writing , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.