Word to Use Instead of Very

It’s common, even for native speakers, to unintentionally repeat a word. In spoken English, that’s not a big problem. Repetition can even lend rhythm to your speech. On the other hand, in written text, it’s easier to recognize when an author relies on identical words and phrases over and over again. 

Sometimes, overuse of a word or phrase can even distract the reader. In order to make your writing stronger, try to add some spice to your vocabulary and syntax. Avoid dependence on particular words and phrases. Often, a thesaurus can be a particularly effective tool to add variety to your writing. 

Here are a few synonyms for the word “very” when it’s used as an adjective, according to Thesaurus.com:

  • actual
  • appropriate
  • authentic
  • bare
  • bona fide
  • correct
  • especial
  • express
  • genuine
  • ideal
  • identical
  • indubitable
  • mere
  • model
  • perfect
  • plain
  • precise
  • pure
  • right
  • same
  • selfsame
  • sheer
  • simple
  • special
  • sure-enough
  • true
  • undoubted
  • unqualified
  • unquestionable
  • veritable
  • very same

 

When it’s used as an adverb, “very” can be replaced with one of these synonyms:

  • absolutely
  • awfully
  • certainly
  • decidedly
  • deeply
  • eminently
  • exceedingly
  • excessively
  • extraordinarily
  • extremely
  • greatly
  • highly
  • incredibly
  • noticeably
  • particularly
  • pretty
  • profoundly
  • remarkably
  • surprisingly
  • terribly
  • truly
  • uncommonly
  • unusually
  • wonderfully
  • acutely
  • amply
  • astonishingly
  • considerably
  • dearly
  • emphatically
  • exaggeratedly
  • extensively
  • indispensably
  • largely
  • notably
  • positively
  • powerfully
  • pressingly
  • prodigiously
  • substantially
  • superlatively
  • surpassingly
  • vastly

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How Does “Very” Work in a Sentence?

In English grammar, the word “very” functions as both an adjective and an adverb. When it’s used as an adverb and followed by another adjective, the word “very” means, “exceedingly” or “truly.” Basically, it amplifies the word that comes next. 

Many grammarians consider it a useless word, since there exist more concise and colorful ways to express intensity. If you think about the adjective that you’re trying to amplify, it may be helpful to turn to a thesaurus to look for a replacement. So, when you’re thinking about revising your first draft, try to exchange “very” + adjective for a single term that conveys the meaning more succinctly. 

For example, you could replace the phrase “very pale” with the word “ashen.”

Here’s a short list of words to demonstrate how you can avoid “very.” Notice how all of the adjectives on the left turn up the volume, taking the English words on the right hand side and making them more emphatic and specific. 

Flawless > Very Nice

Cutthroat > Very Competitive

Trending > Very Current

Gorgeous > Very Pretty

Spotless > Very Clean

Exhausted > Very Tired

Tyrannical > Very Mean

With so many expressive adjectives in American English, we can’t possibly name every single one! Just remember this quick writing tip to instantly improve your prose—replace the adverb “very” or the phrase “very” + adjective with another word.

Antonyms for “Very”

Merriam Webster lists the following antonyms for the adjective “very”:

  • conjectural
  • hypothetical
  • ideal
  • inexistent
  • nonexistent
  • platonic
  • possible
  • potential
  • suppositional
  • theoretical
  • theoretic
  • another 
  • different
  • other

When “very” is used as an adverb, these words are antonyms:

  • little
  • negligibly
  • nominally
  • slightly
  • somewhat
  • professedly
  • supposedly

Sources: 

  1. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/very
  2. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/very
  3. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/a39980/128-better-words-than-very/