Adverbs: good or evil?

Subject: Adverbs: good or evil?
From: Geoff Hart <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 08:37:07 -0500

Although adverbs are generally far less useful in technical communication
than in (say) creative writing, making a blanket statement that they're
useless or even harmful is far too dogmatic. As in most things about
English, the answer is "it depends". Take the following examples:

"Press the DIMM gently into the slot": Sure, you could say "Press the DIMM
into the slot without using excessive force", but why bother? Then you'd
just have to define "excessive".

"Double-click the mouse button slowly": This makes a useful distinction
between this particular technique and the more standard "fast" double-click.

The acid test for adverbs is the same as for any other word when you're
trying to write concisely: does it provide useful or important information
that would be difficult to convey in another way? If the answer is yes, then
it's easy to defend using the adverb.

--Geoff Hart, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca




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