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Grammar Repair Shop: So, very … undesirable

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in Workplace Communication

The words “very” and “so” are kosher intensifiers during casual conversations (as in, “It’s so hot today!”). But when writing, it’s best to avoid both.

Why? They can weaken your writing.

Caveat: If you use “so” to link one phrase to another, that’s different and perfectly acceptable. Example: “It was so hot, the frosting melted off the cake.” And sometimes “very” can be used to create dramatic effect: “The day was very hot, very dry, very long.”

Next time you’re tempted to write “so” or “very,” look for a replacement word. Truncating your word choice makes your prose tighter and more powerful. Examples:

  • Instead of “so hungry,” write “famished.”
  • Instead of “so big,” write “enormous.”
  • Instead of “very upscale,” write “posh.”

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