How to boost your writing by using strong verbs

Every sentence needs a subject and a verb – and the stronger your verb, the stronger your sentence.

Instead of writing:

I really do not like boiled asparagus.

write:

I loathe boiled asparagus.

A single strong word is always better than several weaker ones. Instead of writing:

I walked gingerly.

write:

I tiptoed.

 

Be specific

Specific words are strong because they help build a vivid picture in the reader’s mind.

Think of the difference between slurp and drink, or strut and walk.

You never want to exaggerate – but if someone slurps or struts, then say so. It’s far better than writing: drinks loudly and messily or walks in a cocky manner.

 

Be straightforward

Strong verbs are also straightforward.

Instead of writing:

Get an eyeful of the action at the outdoor cinema.

write:

Watch the action at the outdoor cinema.

Whoever wrote Get an eyeful was probably trying to be creative – but it doesn’t improve the writing. It simply makes it longer.

Now, if you come up with a turn of phrase that’s genuinely inspired – ie it makes the reader see things in a different way, or laugh out loud, or evokes a strong image – then by all means use it. If not, however, then you’re better off using a simple verb that says exactly what it needs to.

 

Avoid saying “not”

If the word not appears in the middle of a verb phrase, then think about whether you can say the same thing in less words.

For example, instead of writing:

Dan did not keep walking.

write:

Dan stopped walking. 

or even:

Dan halted.

 

Good communication is ultimately about clarity and word choice – and choosing the right verb is crucial.

Want to learn more?

The Writing Essentials online course will teach you how to make your writing clear, compelling and easy to read.

It’s suited for anyone who wants to improve their writing – whether it’s for marketing, journalism, blogging or public relations. It’s also ideal for those who want to improve their general writing skills.

It teaches all the basics – from how to make sentences punchier right through to how to structure copy.

You can study at your own pace, whenever and wherever you want.

Find out more and enrol

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