Avoid Using ‘Very’ to Sound More Powerful [+ FREE Vocabulary Guide]

Oct 2, 2019 | Advanced Vocabulary, Free Resource

Want to express yourself more easily in English and be more interesting in conversations? I know you do. And you’re going to learn how with one simple strategy: avoid using ‘very’ in English. 

Wait. Why should you avoid using very? Why is the word very bad?

You probably learned to use it in a grammar book. You hear it in conversations and on TV a lot. So what’s wrong with it?

You’re right, we do use words like very, really, and so to add emphasis, but here’s the problem: We overuse those words.

When we use them too much, they lose their meaning, their power, they become kind of boring, lazy words.

When you begin to avoid using very in English, you become more creative and powerful in your language.

You’re able to adapt to conversations effortlessly (effortlessly is a great alternative to very easily).

So now that you know why you should avoid using very, let’s look more closely at how and which words to use instead.

How to Avoid Using Very in English & Which Words to Use Instead

Let’s start by comparing two sentences.

Which sentence do you think sounds better:

Yesterday I did a really hard workout at the gym and afterwards I felt very tired and very thirsty


Yesterday I did a grueling workout at the gym; afterward, I felt drained and parched.

Here’s another example to consider…

She felt very happy about the promotion and was really excited to tell her family about it.


She felt overjoyed about the promotion and was eager to tell her family about it.

In these two examples, which question sounds more interesting and powerful?

Yes! Definitely the 2nd sentence.

But why?

When you avoid using very in English, your language is more powerful.

Grueling, drained, parched, and overjoyed give us a clearer, more interesting picture in our minds.

There are extra layers of meaning and this makes the sentence more exciting.

So here are some ways to avoid using very and what to use instead:

  • Very hard → Grueling (punishing, torturous, demanding)
  • Very tired → Drained (zero energy)
  • Very thirsty → Parched
  • Very happy → Overjoyed
  • Very excited → Eager

Let’s look at more examples of how to avoid using very.

Let’s say you had a very bad day at work. Ok. Cool. But can you think of another word to use instead of very?

What about horrible. Horrendous. Depressing. Maybe even grueling. 

For example, if you’re an account in the United States, tax season is probably grueling and horrendous for you because you’re working morning, noon, and night every single day of the week with no break for 4 months. 

That’s not just bad. It’s not very bad. It’s horrendous. ( = extremely unpleasant, horrifying, or terrible.)

Here’s a question for you:

Do you get annoyed when your neighbors play really loud music?

Let’s replace that with deafening music (Deafening = so loud as to make it impossible to hear anything else).

When you’re talking about the weather, try this.

Instead of saying:

  • It’s very cold outside.
  • Or it very hot today.


  • Very hot → Sweltering or boiling hot
  • Very cold → Frigid or freezing

Tell me, what’s the winter like where you live? Is it cold or frigid? You can share with me in the comments below.

And finally, how do you feel speaking English?

Very nervous?

How about apprehensive (anxious or fearful that something bad or unpleasant will happen)?

Or uneasy (feeling anxiety; troubled or uncomfortable)?

I feel very certain this lesson will help you advance your English vocabulary.

Or even better… I feel confident that this lesson will help.

And now I want you to practice. Are you ready to add these new words to your English vocabulary so you can use them in daily conversation?

Tell me:

1. What’s the winter like where you live (and don’t use very cold)?

2. How you feel when you get really good news (and don’t use very happy)?

3. What is your favorite word from today’s list and how you could use it in your own example?

And if you want to continue adding powerful vocabulary to your English, then join me next week for part 2 so you can learn how to continue adding new vocabulary to your English easily. 

Have a fantastic Confident English Wednesday!

~ Annemarie

P.S. ❤️this lesson? Get all my top vocabulary lessons here.

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