Dear Dr. Boli: My English teacher said that to make your writing vigorous you should eliminate adverbs, and she said that the way to do it was to go through your writing and look for all the words that end in –ly. What do you think about that? —Sincerely, A Boy in Mrs. Pendleton’s Seventh-Grade English Class Who Wonders Why She Hates Adverbs So Much.

Dear Sir: Yes, that sometimes works to find adverbs fast, but it is not always—indeed, we might say not often—very effective.

As for your teacher’s advice about eliminating adverbs altogether, Dr. Boli has long held the opinion that it is always rather more lazy than useful to make an inflexible rule now that you are likely to regret later.