One Simple Trick To Strengthen Your Copy

Want to make your copy stronger with one simple “trick”?

Eliminate all the adverbs.

What's an adverb?

It's a word – often ending in the letters “ly” – that modifies a verb (or even adjectives or adverbial phrases). Examples of adverbs: quickly, instantly, amazingly, powerfully.

If you find the above passage puzzling, don't worry about it; just go through your copy and try to eliminate as many of those “ly” words as you can. Here's an example:

“Quickly and easily motivate clients to buy stuff.”

~ becomes ~

“Motivate clients to buy stuff.”

Now you may be tempted to ask: “But Ray, I want them to know it happens quickly and easily!”

No problem. Just be specific.

“Motivate clients to buy stuff starting the minute you install the software, without any extra effort on your part.”

You may need to do a bit of rewriting to make the copy flow without the adverbs, but your language will be stronger and more persuasive for the effort.

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at

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  • Ray,

    That is such a good suggestion. I find myself using the “ly” words all the time and have to monitor it.

    You are right that rewriting the sentence to smaller and clear statements makes the copy more effective.


    Dan Foley

  • For more expertise on short sentences – see the work of novelist Robert B. Parker.

  • Excellent tip Ray!

    Gotta go now… I may have some changes to make on my site ;0)

  • Pingback: Headline vs. Headline - Copywriters Board()

  • Great tip, Ray!

  • WOW! This tip is so great Ray. I haven’t
    heard this tip from any of the copywriters
    out there.



  • Other CRUTCH words to avoid:

    – am
    – are
    – be
    – been
    – had
    – has
    – have
    – is
    – was
    – were

    Your writing will be more descriptive without them.
    Try it.