Sir Ernest Gowers on adjectives and adverbs

Unwary writers are often advised to strip all the adverbs out of their prose, and sometimes all the adjectives as well. There is a name for the kind of people who give this advice: blockheads. Here, by contrast, is some good advice on the subject:

Cultivate the habit of reserving adjectives and adverbs to make your meaning more precise, and suspect those that you find yourself using to make it more emphatic. Use adjectives to denote kind rather than degree. By all means say an economic crisis or a military disaster, but think well before saying an acute crisis or a terrible disaster. Say if you like ‘The proposal met with noisy opposition and is in obvious danger of defeat’. But do not say ‘The proposal met with considerable opposition and is in real danger of defeat’. If that is all you want to say it is better to leave out the adjectives and say ‘The proposal met with opposition and is in danger of defeat’.

—Sir Ernest Gowers, The Complete Plain Words

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