Those of us who write love our adjectives. Or, should I say, we love our wonderful, decent, worthy adjectives.
When we tire of using the old standbys like good and great (and their comparative and superlative forms), we tend to pull out alternate words like excellent, admirable, superior, etc. But care must be taken that our adjectives are not so different that they call excessive attention to themselves.
A word like bombastic can seem like old-time hype from a showbiz flack. Slang terms like gnarly appear contrived (unless you are a 19-year-old surfer dude). Amazing calls to mind late night TV spots for devices like the Veg-o-matic. Marvelous can trigger thoughts of a certain Gershwin song. And the word fine should possibly be retired from the language. Depending on usage, fine can sound like insincere praise.
Because we don’t want to use the same words repeatedly within a particular piece of writing, we look for new ones.
What should we do when we need a good adjective—a nice, neat, friendly, helpful and satisfactory adjective? If you don’t have a Thesaurus on hand, the internet has numerous sites filled with synonyms—some good, some bad. Whether you are writing a laudatory press release or a positive (or negative) movie review, the right adjective can make a sentence sing. The wrong adjective can sink your effort.
Two things to remember: Sometimes the basic adjectives like good and bad are best. And another person’s feedback regarding your work can help you decide if your adjective use is appropriate.