strong verbs

To help move away from summary and toward ANALYSIS, it’s important to incorporate strong verbs into your writing when discussing the writer’s rhetorical choices. Below is a list of verbs that are considered weak (imply summary) and a list of verbs that are considered strong (imply analysis). Strive to use the stronger verbs in your essays to help push yourself away from summary and toward analysis: ex “The writer flatters…” NOT “The writer says…”

Weak Verbs (Summary):

  • says 
  • explains
  • relates 
  • states 
  • goes on to say 
  • shows 
  • tells 
  • this quote shows

Strong Verbs (Analysis):

Argues, admonishes, analyzes, compares, contrasts, defines, demonizes, denigrates, describes, dismisses, enumerate, expounds, emphasizes, establishes, flatters, implies, lionizes, lists, minimizes, narrates, praises, processes, qualifies, questions, ridicules, suggests, supports, trivializes, vilifies, warns       

Powerful and Meaningful Verbs to Use in an Analysis (Alternatives to Show): 

  • Acknowledge, Address, Analyze, Apply, Argue, Assert, Augment
  • Broaden
  • Calculate, Capitalize, Characterize, Claim, Clarify,Compare, Complicate, Confine, Connect, Consider, Construct, Contradict, Correct, Create, Convince, Critique
  • Declare, Deduce, Defend, Demonstrate, Deny, Describe, Determine, Differentiate, Disagree, Discard, Discover, Discuss, Dismiss, Distinguish, Duplicate
  • Elaborate, Emphasize, Employ, Enable, Engage, Enhance, Establish, Evaluate, Exacerbate, Examine, Exclude, Exhibit, Expand, Explain, Exploit, Express, Extend
  • Facilitate, Feature, Forecast, Formulate, Fracture
  • Generalize, Group, Guide
  • Hamper, Hypothesize
  • Identify, Illuminate, Illustrate, Impair, Implement, Implicate, Imply, Improve, Include, Incorporate, Indicate, Induce, Initiate, Inquire, Instigate, Integrate, Interpret, Intervene, Invert, Isolate
  • Justify
  • Locate, Loosen
  • Maintain, Manifest, Manipulate, Measure, Merge, Minimize, Modify, Monitor
  • Necessitate, Negate, Nullify
  • Obscure, Observe, Obtain, Offer, Omit, Optimize, Organize, Outline, Overstate
  • Persist, Point out, Possess, Predict, Present, Probe, Produce, Promote, Propose, Prove, Provide
  • Qualify, Quantify, Question
  • Realize, Recommend, Reconstruct, Redefine, Reduce, Refer, Reference, Refine, Reflect, Refute, Regard, Reject, Relate, Rely, Remove, Repair, Report, Represent, Resolve, Retrieve, Reveal, Revise
  • Separate, Shape, Signify, Simulate, Solve, Specify, Structure, Suggest, Summarize, Support, Suspend, Sustain
  • Tailor, Terminate, Testify, Theorize, Translate
  • Undermine, Understand, Unify, Utilize
  • Validate, Vary, View, Vindicate
  • Yield  
Writing Meme
  • Tell an RPer what you enjoy about their writing!
  • ❣ You always use varied and interesting vocabulary.
  • ▶️ Your verbs are strong and spot on.
  • ✔️ Your dialogue is realistic.
  • 🔷 Your dialogue fits your character perfectly--it's like I can hear them speaking when I read your dialogue.
  • 🔺 You always use great adjectives.
  • ⚫️ You are very good at setting the scene in your roleplays.
  • 📣 You are great at describing what things look like and it never gets boring. Your descriptions are colorful and unique.
  • ♦️ Your long replies never get repetitive or boring.
  • 🔘 Your short replies always pack a punch.

Here’s another way to quickly improve your writing:

Be concise. Simple is best most of the time. If you can cut a word because it’s redundant, cut it.

For example:

“He quickly dashed down the stairs of the house to the living room.”

Becomes: “He dashed downstairs to the living room.”

“Quickly” is useless and clogs down “dashed,” a strong verb which already implies that he’s quick. “Of the house” is also useless. If there’s a living room and stairs we’re going to assume it’s a house. There’s nothing really wrong with “down the stairs” in comparison to “downstairs,” but “down the stairs” is three words and “downstairs,” is one, and they provide the same meaning. Changing that is a personal choice.

Also, if you’re going on about a detail that doesn’t matter to the plot, stop. If you waste a hundred words on a character’s outfit then that outfit better have significance. Don’t tell us that Handsome McHeartthrob’s eyes are a gorgeous, lustrous, incredible, panty-soaking blue every time he’s mentioned. Your readers’ panties were probably sufficiently soaked the first time.

Avoid pointless restatements, excessive, irrelevant detail, and adverbs that only serve to intensify. Getting rid of the swamp gunk makes a piece way more enjoyable to read. Smooth sailing is better than wading through a bog.

1.Of the

“Of the” is almost always unnecessary and can be simplified.


The owner of the restaurant.

The restaurant owner.

The wheels of the skateboard.

The skateboard’s wheels.

One of the nails came loose.

A nail came loose.

2. That

This one seems innocent enough, but again it can almost always be cut without any damage. If you have “that” in a sentence remove it, and if what’s left still makes sense then it’s unnecessary.

He said that he was coming.

He said he was coming.

Our teacher promised that there wouldn’t be any homework.

Our teacher promised there wouldn’t be any homework.

3. Adverbs

Most adverbs are either redundant or superfluous. For example:

“I have to go,” she whispered quietly.

Whispering implies being quiet, so “quietly” is redundant and can be cut.

He moved quickly across the lawn.

If we choose a strong verb the adverb becomes unnecessary and the writing becomes tighter and punchier:

He dashed across the lawn.

Keep reading


4:11pm 08/12/2016. Assignment writing! My essay plan is complete & wrote out some good, strong comparative verbs (thank you a variety of studyblr accounts, Google & Microsoft word synonyms) to get myself out of ‘according to…’ or ’… states.’ aka the death of essay writing.

Words to remove from your writing


I haven’t seen any essays on this one, but I’ve just undergone a mission to remove it from my own manuscript, so I figured I’d write about it myself. 

Take is one of those words that we use so often, we forget how unnecessary it usually is. 

Compare these examples:

Jane takes a step.

Jane takes a sip.

Jane takes it from him.

to these:

Jane steps.

Jane sips.

Jane grabs it from him. 

In each scenario, a strong verb replaces a weak one. 

In the first two examples, the true action of the sentence is disguised as a direct object. This works similarly to the way the subject is disguised as the direct object in passive voice, and shouldn’t be used for the same reasons. It’s wordier, and by assuming the roll of the verb, it takes attention away from the actual action. 

In the third example, take and grab work as synonyms, but grab is a more precise verb. Take has neutral connotations. It’s a catch-all for many actions. You can take a letter from someone’s hand gently or you can take it from their hand by snatching it away. You need context to see how the action is playing out. You need more words. By replacing “take” with “grab” in this instance, you’re saying the same and more. You don’t need more words to describe the “how” of the action, because the verb does it for you. 

Words to use instead of take: accept, remove, seize, acquire, obtain, grab, grasp, etc

Sometimes, when the action of is more neutral, “take” may work better. For example: if Jane takes some milk from the fridge, you don’t really need to clarify that she’s doing so roughly or gently. You don’t want to use a verb that’s stronger than the action itself. 

You’ll also notice that the first examples are wordier than the latter ones. “Take” is a vague verb. It tells the reader little about the nature of the action. In most instances, it doesn’t deserve the space on the page. 

When to use take: 

You can use take when you’re talking about a more abstract subject. You’ll notice the time I’ve used take here, I’m not talking about a physical action. I’m talking about attention, something you can’t touch or smell or taste. 

I could use a stronger verb in this scenario: “it commandeers attention from the actual action,” but that sounds silly. Flowery. Unnecessary. Here, a stronger verb doesn’t provide any more clarity. Nor does it match the more neutral tone of the sentence. Like I said, you don’t want to use a verb that’s stronger than the action itself. 

You can use it when you’re being wordier on purpose. Consider which option achieves a better effect

He steps hesitantly toward her.  


He takes a hesitant step toward her. 

In this case, I’d personally say it was the latter option for two reasons. 

  1. It introduces “hesitant” before “step.” The moment a word comes up, it immediately brings an image into the reader’s mind. Even a simple, vague word like “step.” If your reader imagines a quick step, having to amend that image, even if it’s only a second later, can draw them out of the story. I personally don’t like taking that risk. 
  2. The pace of the sentence mirrors the pace of the action. Inserting “takes” here slows down the pace of the reading, mimicking the pace of the scene. In action scenes, short, clipped sentences work well because they imitate the action on the page. In a scene like this, whatever he’s about to do (profess his undying love for her, murder her, tell her that her father has died and now she’s Empress of All the Lands), there’s an element of suspense here. He’s wondering if he should do it. She’s wondering what he’s doing. And the reader is wondering it, too. Lengthening the sentence allows the reader to experience that hesitant step with the characters. 

You can also, obviously, use take where it appears in common phrases: “take some time,” “take a break,” “takes after his mother,” etc.

When asking yourself if you should use the word “take,” ask the questions you should ask of every element of your writing: 

Is it clear?
Is it concise?
Is it adding to my story

Irregular Verbs in English

(Excerpt from Uncharted: Big Data as a Lens on Human Cuture)

English verb conjugation is, at first glance, a walk in the park. To form the part tense of an English verb, all you have to do is add -ed: jump becomes jumped. Hundreds of thousands of verbs obey this simple rule. When new verbs enter the language, they obey this rule by default. I may have never heard of flamboozing before, but I know that if you choose to flambooze yesterday, then yesterday you flamboozed.  

Except - much to the chagrin of English learners - for the pesky irregular verbs. Verbs like to know. Even before you read this sentence, you probably knew that we don’t say knowed. About three hundred in all, the irregular verbs - sometimes called strong verbs by linguists - include the ten most frequent verbs in the English language: be/was, have/had, do/did, say/said, go/went, get/got, make/made, know/knew, see/saw, think/thought. They are so frequent that, when you use a verb, there is a 50 percent chance that it will be irregular.

Where did the irregulars come from? It’s a long story. Sometime between six thousand and twelve thousand years ago, a language known to modern scholars as Proto-Indo-European was spoken. An astonishing array of modern languages, including English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Greek, Czech, Persian, Sanskrit, Urdu, Hindi, and hundreds of others, descend from Proto-Indo-European. Proto-Indo-European had a system, known to scholars as the ablaut, that transformed a word into a related one by changing its vowels according to fixed rules. In English, the ablaut can still be seen in the form of subtle patterns among the irregular verbs.

Here is an example of one pattern: Today I sing, yesterday I sang, the song was sung. Similarly: Today I ring, yesterday I rang, the phone has rung. Here’s another pattern: Today I stick, yesterday I stuck. Today I dig, yesterday I dug. When the rules of conjugation die, they leave behind fossils. We call these fossils irregular verbs.

What sort of grammatical asteroid wiped out these ancient rules, leaving behind only the dry bones of the irregulars?

That asteroid was the so-called dental suffix, written -ed in Modern English. The use of -ed to signify the past tense emerged in Proto-Germanic, a language spoken between 500 and 250 BCE in Scandinavia.

Proto-Germanic was the linguistic ancestor of all the modern Germanic languages, including English, German, Dutch, and many others. Because it was a descendent of Proto-Indo-European, Proto-Germanic inherited the old ablaut scheme for conjugating verbs. And this worked fine most of the time. But occasionally, new verbs entered the language, and some of these didn’t quite fit any of the old ablaut patterns. So the speakers of Proto-Germanic invented something new, forming the past tense of these young, nonconformist verbs by adding that -ed. In Proto-Germanic, the regular verbs were the exception.

But not for long. Use of the dental suffix to mark the past tense was a tremendously successful invention, and it began to spread rapidly. Like any disruptive technology, the new rule started at the margins, serving funky-looking verbs that the ablaut could not. But once it established this beachhead, it did not stop. Simple and memorable, the dental suffix began to attract additional adherents, as verbs that had always used the venerable ablaut patterns started making the switch.

Thus, by the time that the classic Old English text Beowulf was written, about 1,200 years ago, more than three-quarters of English verbs obeyed the new rule. With its strength eroded, the old ablaut was now on the run, the upstart -ed rule everywhere nipping at its heels. More and more irregular forms defected over the next thousand years. A millennium ago, I would have holp you. Just yesterday, though, I would have helped you. 

This is a process that today’s linguists, with the benefit of hindsight, call regularization. And it’s still going on. Consider the verb thrive. About ninety years ago, a headline in the New York Times read “Gambling Halls Throve in Billy Busteed’s Day.” But in 2009, the Times ran an article in its Science section titled “Some Mollusks Thrived After a Mass Extinction.” Unlike those lucky mollusks, throve was a victim of the mass extinction of the ablaut. There is no going back. Once they are regular, verbs almost never irregularize. For every sneak that snuck in, there are many flews that flied out. 

Like the three hundred Spartans at Thermopylae, the English irregular verbs - three hundred, strong - have been resolutely holding off a merciless assault on their kind that began in 500 BCE. It is a battle they have waged every day, in every city, in every town, along every street where English is spoken. They have been waging it for 2,500 years. They are not merely exceptions: They are survivors. 

Mod Post: Some basic things about AAVE...

Here are some things that are common in AAVE:

double negation:
I ain’t never seen that boy in my life.” // I have never seen that boy in my life.

absence of 3rd-person singular forms:

He ain’t got no choice but to.” // He doesn’t have any choice but to.

omission of the copula(to be):

He choosing!” // He is choosing. (I.E. this is another way of saying that the person in question is interested in someone; usually the speaker.)

omission of the auxiliary:

You playing ball, bruh?” // “Are you playing basketball?”

past participle of strong verb denotes past tense:

Man, I been done known that!” // “I have known about that for a long time.”

This and certain terms and idioms for certain people (i.e. the “po-po” and “5-0″ mean “the police”; “trap star” or “pusher” means a drug dealer specializing in heavier fare than weed), places (i.e. “the crib” means “the/my home”), things (i.e. “going H.A.M.” or “going Fed” means “getting wild” or “going off”), or actions (i.e. “hit the slab” means “hit the highway” or “let’s go”) make up the bulk of what AAVE is.

It’s a legitimate English dialect that many people speak. And most black people have been taught how to naturally code switch (or change dialects) depending on who they’re talking to and what environment they’re currently in.

Still, if you aren’t black, you shouldn’t be using it… especially after so many of us have been made to feel lesser than for speaking it our entire lives.


Editing: Cutting Down the Word Count

Anonymous asked:

Word length frustrates me. How can 200,000 words be edited down to 100-150k? Is it really just a matter of scene triage, or does wording need to be more concise? Should I remove a subplot? I feel like I’m butchering an already butchered child! Lol.

It really is just a matter of making your wording more concise. When you go through and start eliminating unnecessary words, you’d be shocked at how quickly that word count falls. Here are some things to look out for:

1. Change Passive Voice to Active Voice

Passive: The ball was hosted by the king and queen. (9 words)
Active: The King and Queen hosted the ball. (7 words)

2. Change Adverbs to Strong Verbs

Adverb: The driver drove quickly and caught up with the taxi. (10 words)
Strong Verb: The driver accelerated and caught up with the taxi. (9 words)

Adverb: Susan drank the beer hesitantly. (5 words)
Strong Verb: Susan sipped the beer. (4 words)

3. Cut Down on “ing” Verbs

With: I kept thinking I would win the lottery. (8 words)
Without: I thought I would win the lottery. (7 words)

4. Eliminate Redundancy

Redundant: I tiptoed quietly down the hall. (6 words)
Not Redundant: I tiptoed down the hall. (5 words)

Redundant: The woman yelled loudly at the customer. (7 words)
Not Redundant: The woman yelled at the customer. (6 words)

5. Limit Unnecessary “Being” Verbs 
(was/were, is/are, be/been)

With: I was running errands all afternoon. (6 words)
Without: I ran errands all afternoon. (5 words)

With: Terry was the first to arrive. (6 words)
Without: Terry arrived first. (3 words)

6. Eliminate Unnecessary “Thats”

With: I was sure that it was Tuesday. (7 words)
Without: I was sure it was Tuesday. (6 words)

With: Selena told me that her birthday is next week. (9 words)
Without: Selena told me her birthday is next week. (8 words)

7. Eliminate Excessive Dialogue Tagging


“What time do you want to leave?” asked Harry.

“We can leave whenever you want,” said Sue.

Harry looked at Tom and asked, “Do you want to leave now?”

“Sure,” Tom said. “Sue, do you want to drive?”

“You bet,” answered Sue.

(42 words)


“What time do you want to leave?” asked Harry.

“We can leave whenever you want,” said Sue.

“Harry looked at Tom and asked, “Do you want to leave now?”

“Sure. Sue, do you want to drive?”

“You bet!”

(38 words)

I was able to remove the “Tom said” and “answered Sue” because it was already obvious who was speaking. Harry looked at Tom and asked him a question, so we already knew the answer would be his. Then Tom asks Sue if she wants to drive, so we know the next answer will be hers.

8. Eliminate “Very” and “Really”

With: Sandra really appreciated Andrew’s help, but she was very tired and ready to call it a night after what turned out to be a really crappy day. (27 words)

Without: Sandra appreciated Andrew’s help, but she was tired and ready to call it a night after what turned out to be a crappy day. (24 words)

9. Use Contractions

Unless your characters don’t use contractions for some reason, go ahead and use them. :)

Without: It was getting late and I could not be bothered to make dinner. My roommate would not care if I ordered a pizza. (23 words)

With: It was getting late and I couldn’t be bothered to make dinner. My roommate wouldn’t care if I ordered a pizza. (21 words)

10. Eliminate Excessive Description

With: Angel looked out the window across the vast lonely lawn, covered now in a thick blanket of white snow. A cold and terrible wind blew furiously from the east, rattling the leaf barren trees until they shook as though in fear for their very lives. (45 words)

Without: Angel looked out the window across the vast lawn, covered now in a thick blanket of snow. A cold wind blew furiously from the east, rattling the leaf barren trees until they shook as though in terror. (37 words)


Oops! Removed an unnecessary comma from #10. 

Good luck! :)

Instead of admitting defeat I made this one-page guide to Old English verbs, including a colour-coded guide to strong verb parts and notes on i-mutation! The pronoun alongside the verb ending is given throughout, so you just add the appropriate stem. Hopefully this will help someone. :) Click for full resolution!

Advice: Writing Micro-Fiction

Anonymous asked:

Do you have any tips about writing micro-stories? Like 20 lines or less. Thank you!

Micro fiction doesn’t work like a traditional story, but it does need a compelling premise, a beginning with a good hook, a strong middle, and an ending that leaves the reader wondering. Some general tips:

- make it humorous, dark, or a dark comedy
- reveal and withhold the right details, but don’t leave too much out
- use contractions whenever possible to save words (”don’t” vs “do not”)
- use active voice, which is shorter than passive
 (”Tom threw the ball” vs “The ball was thrown by Tom.”)
- use strong verbs instead of adverbs
(”The driver sped” vs “The driver drove quickly.”)
- avoid redundant descriptions
(”I tiptoed down the hall” vs “I tiptoed quietly down the hall”)
- Use precise verbs
(”She sipped the beer” vs “She drank the beer slowly.)
- eliminate unnecessary “that’s”
(”I was sure it was Tuesday” vs “I was sure that it was Tuesday”)
- eliminate “really” and “very”
(”I was tired” vs “I was really tired” or “I was very tired.”)

I hope that helps! :)