Writing

The Ultimate List of Strong Verbs for More Impactful Writing

Posted: December 13, 2022
Word count: 1,344 (5 min)

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Tomas Laurinavicius

Co-founder & Chief Editor, Best Writing

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Picture this: words jumping off page as you write them. Cool, right?

This is because you have a powerful writing style, and also used string verbs.

What is a strong verb?

A strong verb is a more powerful and impactful than ordinary or weak verbs.

Strong verbs are create intense imagery in the mind and are hard to ignore. They are are upgraded version of weak verbs.

Does that mean we should always employ strong verbs? Not at all. To keep the writing process natural one must not restrict using anything. One weak verb will not depreciate your writing. Consistently using them will.

What is a weak verb?

A weak verb is one which is less impactful, not precise, and often whose stem vowel does not change as past tense or past participle. Some examples of weak verbs are look, walk, taste, add. These words do not fundamentally change in past or past participle forms.

Some common weak verbs are:

look - look, looked, looked

walk - walk, walked, walked

taste - taste, tasted, tasted

add - add, added, added

Let us go further and discuss types of weak verbs.

Types of Weak Verbs

Weak verbs can be of three types: the state-of-being verbs, the ones that depend on adverbs, and verbs ending with -ing suffix.

The Being Verbs

When a sentence lies dormant, you can expect at least one of the 'be' verbs in that sentence. Powerful verbs revives a sentence from its dormancy.

The following state-of-being verbs should be used less in writing: am, are, be, being, been, can, could, do, does, did, have, has, had, is, may, might, must, shall, should, was, were, will, would.

Verbs That Depend on Adverbs

Strong verbs has the power to stand alone, without the support of adverbs. Without adverbs powerful verbs do well, unlike weak verbs, which need another word to be impactful.

Take this sentence for example:

  • The professor spoke very loudly in the classroom.

Here the verb spoke requires two adverbs to describe us how the professor was speaking.

The same sentence can be rephrased with stronger verbs:

  • The professor's voice thundered in the classroom.

See the difference?

Using a powerful verb instantly made the sentence more impactful, appealing, and dynamic. We can literally visualize the scene.

Let us take another sentence:

  • The explorer carefully looked over the landscape.

This sentence can instantly be improved by using power verbs:

  • The explorer surveyed the landscape.

Strong verbs does not mean the verb should describe a bombastic action. An interesting verb is one that appeals to the reader's mind.

Verbs with ing Suffixes

Verbs which has -ing in their continuous form can be avoided to form good sentences.

  • She was getting to know me.
  • She got to know me.
  • They were walking me till the bustop.
  • They walked me till the bustop.
  • The cats were jumping over the fence.
  • The cats jumped over the fence.

Why Use Strong Verbs

Our ultimate goal is to improve our writing. Using strong verbs is one way of doing that. There are several reasons why we should avoid weak verbs altogether. By now we know the difference between weak and strong verbs. Let us know understand why and how strong verbs improve our writing.

Powerful Visuals

Verbs which do not have a regular past participle or past tense, that is, irregular verbs, create more vivid imagery than normal ones.

  • The trees stood very close to one another in the forest.
  • The trees enveloped the forest.

The second sentence create a beautiful and powerful visual than the former. It is articulate, and simply better than the former.

Precise Meaning

Strong verbs helps create a clear picture in the reader's mind. Verbs that are attached with adverbs often is less potent and dull.

  • The child quickly understood the lesson.
  • The child grasped the lesson.

The second sentence helps us precisely understand how well the child understood the lesson.

Show, Don't Tell

This is an old advice we all received from our primary school English teacher. Rather than telling the man shouted, let him scream directly on the page. Rather than telling the scenery was very beautiful, describe the scene to the readers.

Strong verbs help writers show. Doing that will hook your readers, whether you are writing a journalistic piece or fiction writing.

Appeals to Emotions

Strong verbs connects with readers emotionally. They create more pathos than using weak verbs. Strong verbs work just as good in present tense form or in past tense. Irregular verbs are powerful verbs, but not all regular verbs are weak verbs. One has to develop a sense of differentiating between the strong and weak verbs.

  • The students was very interested in the factory machines.
  • The students were marvelled at the factory machines.

Irregular Verbs

Irregular verbs are those whose past tense and past participle change the stem vowel of the word. Examples of irregular verbs are begin, draw, drive, eat, fight, fly, freeze, grow, lie, sink, throw, wear, write, etc.

  • begin - began - begun
  • draw - drew - drawn
  • drive - drove - driven
  • eat - ate - eaten
  • fight - fought - fought
  • fly - flew - flown
  • freeze - froze - frozen
  • grow - grew - grown
  • lie - lay - lain
  • sink - sank - sunk
  • throw - threw - thrown
  • wear - wore - worn
  • write - wrote - written

Replacing 'said'

Why on earth should we not write one of the most common verbs said?

Here's why.

Said is one of the most common weak verbs. It is monotonous, dull, and basically worthless.

Several interesting verbs can be used in place of said: murmured, whispered, shouted, screamed, articulated, conveyed, mentioned, cried, uttered, exclaimed, whined, purred, blurted, etc.

What are action verbs?

Action verbs describe actions.

But isn't that what all verbs do?

Yes.

But action verbs denote a significant physical movement that we can call action.

Examples of action verbs are run, dive, jump, sprint, swing, hurl, bang, smash, bash, strike etc.

Action verbs create a powerful impact on your writing.

Instead of saying she threw the ball, we can say she hurled the ball, and suddenly the latter is much more powerful.

Action verbs are opposed to stative verbs and linking verbs. Stative verbs are those which describe a state or a condition.

  • The food smells delicious.

In this sentence the word smells is a stative verb.

A linking verb connects the subject and its object.

  • He is a good player.

In this sentence the verb is is a linking verb.

Strong action verbs makes your writing pop.

A good vocabulary helps make a list of strong and weak verbs.

Expository Writing and its Use of Strong Verbs

Expository writing is the writing of factual things. Expository writing uses facts, information, and other objective aspects as its content. Data is a great resource for expository writing.

A strong verb can come handy while writing facts because skimming through complicated data can be difficult. Strong verbs help hold the attention of the reader in expository writing.

A Strong Verbs List

Advance Advise Alter Amplify

  • Command Commune Crash Crave
  • Dash Devour Direct Discern
  • Engulf Erase Escort Expand
  • Fly Fuse Garble Gaze
  • Grasp Gravitate Grip
  • Guide Gush Hack Hail
  • Mimic Mint Moan Mystify
  • Scrape Scratch Scrawl
  • Sprinkle Stretch Strip Stroll
  • Shock Shrivel Steer Storm
  • Supersize Surge Survey Swoon
  • Usher Veil Wail Weave
  • Wreck Wrench Wring Zap

Summary

A strong verb is a specific, impactful, demonstrative word which can replace more than one weaker words. Strong verbs makes paying attention easier. It appeals to the reader's senses and makes your writing look more articulate and polished. To identify a strong verb is to develop a sense of good writing through reading.

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