300 Days of Better Writing

March 5, 2010

Replace weak verbs with action verbs

Filed under: WritingExcellence — preciseedit @ 7:13 pm

First, let’s define our terms. An action verb represents an action that can be viewed or performed. A weak verb is, simply, the opposite of an action verb. 

Examples of action verbs include perform, hold, state, create, and represent. Examples of weak verbs include can, seem, exist, and feel [the mental activity]. All to be verbs are weak verbs, especially when followed by an –ing verb. These include is, am, are, were, and was

To strengthen your writing, revise your sentences to replace weak verbs with action verbs. This is especially important when the main verb is weak, as in this sentence. 

We can use the second sentence above as an example.

Weak verb use: “An action verb is a verb that represents an action.”
Action verb use: “An action verb represents an action.”

This concept confuses many people, so I’ll provide another example.

Weak verb use: “The novelist was considering writing a new book in his series.” (“was considering”)
Action verb use: “The novelist considered writing a new book in his series.” (“considered”)

Sentences using action verbs state the information directly and concisely, and they give the reader a mental image, which makes them more engaging.

You won’t be able to do this with every sentence, nor should you. However, be aware of how frequently you use weak verbs and limit them to the extent possible.

(This is the tip for day 50 in 300 Days of Better Writing.)

Free E-book to Improve Your Writing Skills

Your Writing Companion

Top writing strategies and expert instruction from each of Precise Edit’s writing guides

  • 2 complete articles from
    Precise Edit Training Manual
  • 8 days of instruction from
    300 Days of Better Writing
  • 5 top strategies from
    Bang! Writing with Impact

Discover the quality and practicality of Precise Edit’s writing guides while learning great strategies for writing powerfully!

(PDF download)

or purchase the Kindle version ($0.99) here

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: