Very is an overused word. Whenever you’re tempted to use it, try dropping it to see if any meaning is lost. There’s a good chance your sentence will actually benefit from its removal. There are exceptions, however, especially when very provides meaningful emphasis.
For example, consider whether these sentences really need the intensifier very:
Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but over the years the Georgia General Assembly has provided us a vast array of very entertaining and sometimes very bizarre legislative denizens. [Atlanta Journal Constitution]
After all, Coats was the pilot for the shuttle Discovery’s very first mission — the STS-41D flight that marked the beginning of the shuttle’s 27-year spaceflying career. [Fox News]
It goes without saying that almost all Western analysts and pundits know very little about Libyan rebels. [American Conservative]
Their campaign elsewhere in the Middle East, after an apparently promising start, had not been going very well. [Guardian]
In these cases, however, very serves a purpose in providing meaningful emphasis:
He’s the very English luvvie famed for his blue-blooded roles in TV shows such as Brideshead Revisited and Elizabeth I and theatre work in classic Shakespeare plays. [Daily Mail]
When they’re good, they’re very good. [White and Blue Review]
Very and past participles
An old, nearly forgotten grammar rule holds that very should not modify past-participial adjectives, as participles are derived from verbs, and very can’t modify actions. So phrases like very engrossed and very delighted are illogical because it would be impossible to say, for example, this book very engrosses readers, or you very delight me.
This might be good advice, but most 21st-century writers don’t bother with the old rule. For example, these writers use very to modify a participle:
Cobb won’t be very disappointed if he doesn’t win a state title. [NJ.com]
It’s making me feel very annoyed, threatened, unsafe and unsettled. [letter to Morning Sentinel]
There are a few easy solutions to the very-past-participle issue, if you care about pleasing old-fashioned grammarians. One is to remove very (see above). Another is to replace very with quite (which is almost as often overused as very), much, or very much—for example:
Cobb won’t be much disappointed if he doesn’t win a state title.
It’s making me feel quite annoyed, threatened, unsafe and unsettled.
But in both cases, simply dropping the intensifier might be even better.