Avoiding “Really” and “Very”

I did a video about how to use really and very a couple weeks ago for some of my lower intermediate and beginning students. Now that I’ve done that, I just want to say, “Stop using them so much!

Using these words to make an adjective feel stronger is great, but for my intermediate and higher level students, it is actually a bit of a trap.

Don’t get me wrong, I use really and very quite a bit! So do most native English speakers. However, there is a limit to how often you can repeat these words without sounding unnatural.

If you are studying English to take the IELTS or TOEFL, to pass an English class or just to be able to express yourself clearly in another language, it is important not to overuse these two words. 

What should you do instead?

  1. Build up your vocabulary with different adverbs of degree and intensity.
  2. Learn and use more strong adjectives.

We all know that English has an overwhelming amount of vocabulary. The downside is that it takes a lot of effort to learn; however, the upside is that you can often find exactly the right word to express your feeling or idea!


Let’s start with adverbs of degree and intensity. 

If you are just using really (and not really) and very (and not very), you are limiting yourself to only two levels of intensity. If you start using other adverbs, you can get much more expressive!

Take a look: 

Click here to download a PDF with more of these adverbs.


Now for better vocabulary.

Instead of saying basic adjectives, such as good, bad, big, small, hot, cold, etc, find a word that has exactly the degree of intensity and meaning that you want to say.

For example:  It is very cold. → It is freezing.

Basic Stronger Basic Stronger
Good Great, excellent, terrific, awesome, fantastic Bad Horrible, terrible, awful, atrocious,
Pretty Gorgeous, beautiful, alluring, exquisite Ugly Hideous, beastly, grotesque, unsightly
Hot Boiling, burning, sweltering, scorching Cold Frigid, cool, crisp, icy, wintry
Funny Amusing, entertaining, hilarious, droll, silly Boring Tedious, humdrum, uninteresting, monotonous


Cheerful, delighted, ecstatic, joyful, thrilled Sad Sorrowful, wistful, dejected, mournful


Download a longer list of these strong adjectives here. 

You should note that these stronger adjectives also often have a slightly different usage or connotation (positive or negative feeling) than the general basic adjectives.

Make sure you look up some examples of how to use the new vocabulary before you use them in your English tests or in business Emails!


What to do next?

  • If you find these materials helpful, don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter to get the latest from LaurasEnglishClass.com.
  • You can also check out my new Youtube channel here.
  • You can also join my Laura’s English Class Group on Facebook. Starting in October, there will be weekly LIVE Office Hours, where you can log in to ask your questions in real time.

Do you still have questions? Comments? Let me know! I’d love to hear from you!