Avoiding the overuse of “very + adjective”

Even for native speakers of English, building up a rich vocabulary can be quite challenging. Much easier for instance to use very + adjectif rather than struggling to find “le mot juste”.

The table below is a handy guide for this task.

A word of warning, however: the alternative to very + adjectif must be appropriate.

Eg, using swift with car just sounds wrong.

One can have a swift journeya swift recovery and a swift runner, but for car one would rather speak of a speedy car.

This example underscores a highly complex aspect of the English language, all the more so as one can speak of a speedy journeya speedy recovery and a speedy runner.

Here, the rule is that speedy can be used to describe anything that goes fast – animate, inanimate or process – as can swift, but in the latter’s case not for something that is mechanical (car, plane, etc).

Only native speaker translators translating into their mother tongue have this level of instinctive linguistic sensitivity. In fact, it is this type of extremely detailed and particularly picky aspect of our work that gives us the most job satisfaction.

Please contact me to discuss all types of translation and content writing work.

Tableau d'alternatifs à very + adjectif
Credit : Proof Reading Services

Native speaker translator+

A native English speaker translator at work
A native English speaker translator will have a sound knowledge of English grammar

As a native English speaker translator who translates from French and also has a background in journalism, I offer my clients:

  1. French-English bilingualism
  2. Excellent knowledge of English
  3. Sound English writing skills

Indeed, good writing skills in a translator’s target language is often forgotten as essential for this type of work.

Moreover, especially if a non-native speaker translator doesn’t live in the country of his or her target language, that key linguistic knowhow invariably just won’t be present.

Professional translators work into their native language


Translation: Getting it Right — a guide to buying translation
(Institute of Translators and Interpreters, 2014)

To demonstrate this, below is some profile information of a France-based French translator that is prominently displayed on the front page of a professional website.

Even though the translation is grammatically correct and easily understandable, it reads like translated text and isn’t how native speakers express themselves.

French text on the site

Parce que votre marque, votre produit ou votre service méritent mieux que des mots, vous avez besoin d’un traducteur qui est avant tout un homme à l’écoute. Pas un robot.

Translated text on the site

You need a human translator to adapt your brand content, your added-value, because at the end of the day it’s not just words we translate. It’s your vision.


  1. “You”, “your”, “we” — in English, the passive voice tends to be used.
  2. An “and” is missing between “your brand content” and “your added-value”
  3. Contrary to French, English normally avoids repetitions of possessive pronouns (“your”)  in a list, even when it only contains two elements.
  4. “value” and “added” aren’t normally hyphenated.
  5. “because at the end of the day” is a highly idiomatic expression that makes for an inappropriate fit within the context of this text.
  6. For such a small chunk of text, an identical number of sentences in both the source and translated texts is often a bad sign. To maintain the original meaning of the source text, the translation needs to be reformulated.

Revised translation by a native English speaker translator

A translator who will communicate the subtleties and vision of a French brand, product or service in context-appropriate English.


  1. The revised translation includes a mention of both languages.
  2. The hyphenation in “context-appropriate” is correct.
  3. No need to make any mention of “a robot”. It’s obvious the translator in the text is human and not a piece of software.
  4. The translated text is slightly altered to ensure that the meaning of the source text is maintained.
  5. Cultural awareness disregards translating gender insensitive French expressions such as “un homme à l’écoute”.

The fact is that the first impression given to a potential customer will often be the key determinant as to whether any subsequent work is undertaken. These types of “first contact” content therefore need to be flawless — and all the more so when on a website’s Home Page.

A complete mastery of all of the subtleties of the English language is the added value that only a native speaker translator can provide.

Please contact me to discuss any French to English translation and English content writing work. I’m sure I’ll be able to help.

The crucial role of editing and revising copy

Editing an English language document

  The golden rule that says to write is to rewrite is often overlooked. Writing copy is one thing, but to finish the job it will need to be completely reworked; it’s the most important part of the process.

So says author Andrew Kevin Walker, best known as the screenwriter of the US hit Seven (1995).

The fact is all professional writing requires this. From Shakespeare to JK Rowling, any high quality piece of writing would have gone through an invariably rigorous review and editing process.

Copy is checked for precision, clarity, conciseness, intelligibility, coherence and respect for rules of spelling and grammar.

A thorough review and editing process not only improves quality and readability, but also makes the end-product easier to monetise, with the opposite also holding true.

It’s actually impossible for a professional writer to produce content that won’t be improved with third party editing support.

Editing in action

The following bit of text illustrates this well. It’s the first paragraph of the introductory Editor’s Note of a published English-language architecture magazine. Unfortunately, it was neither written nor edited by native English speakers, leading to various errors.

   Going under (1)

Shovel to dirt (2), we head underground to dig up some of the latest innovations in subterranean construction. (3) We offer information (4) on The Lowline, an underground park set to open in N.Y.C. (5), and expand (6) on international (7) projects taking place in Pushing the Boundaries of Underground Construction.

The errors

  1. going under means to go bust.
  2. No need for all the references to digging, shovelling, dirt, etc … reader knows subject is about underground construction because headline says so.
  3. New paragraph needed for clarity.
  4. offer information is more appropriate for something a tourist office does.
  5. No need for full stops between N, Y, C … also reader will know that NYC is New York, the city, unless reference is made in copy to elsewhere in the state of New York.
  6. No need for expand — it’s obvious
  7. international implies a single project happening in more than one country.

   Going underground

Issue #19 sees us heading underground to report on some of the latest innovations in subterranean construction.

We cover The Lowline, an underground park set to open in New York, as well as other projects around the globe in Pushing the Boundaries of Underground Construction.