Strong Verbs

“Strong verbs are verbs that are active, vivid, specific, and familiar. They are the engine that runs your prose. Don’t use vague verbs that are boosted by adverbs. Don’t write, “Buster ate his dog treats quickly,” if you can write, “Buster gobbled his dog treats.” Don’t use weak general verbs like walk, cry, fall, and touch if the situation calls for plod, weep, collapse, and caress.” says Gary Provost in his book Make Your Words Work.






Lack imagination

Don’t add any new information.



Add more information.

Paint a picture.

Create well written sentences.



The kangaroo went across the grass.

My brother hurt me.



The kangaroo hopped across the grass.

My brother twisted my arm.

Strong Verb Poem

Melissa Forney illustrates the use of strong and weak verbs perfectly in her poem The Dog Ate the Bone. It’s fun, catchy and teaches all at the same time.

The Dog Ate The Bone

By Melissa Forney

The dog ate the bone.

Don’t you think that’s kind of weak?

The verb here is “ate”

But it needs a little tweak.

The dog ate the bone,

Let’s try another verb.

One that’s really fun to write,

One that’s quite superb.

The dog could devour the bone,

Nibble, gnaw, or munch it.

The dog could snark-up the bone,

Gobble, bite or crunch it.

The dog could consume the bone,

Oh yes, that dog could do it,

Inhale the bone, impale the bone,

Swallow, gulp or chew it.

So when you’re writing to impress,

Don’t use a verb that fizzles.

Think of every word you know,

And give me one that sizzles!


Recommended Links

How to write a sentence effectively.

Wriitng gripping introductions.

How to write an effective conclusion.

Picking the right topic.

Return from strong verbs to the homepage.


Make Your Words Work: Proven Techniques for Effective Writing-For Fiction and Nonfiction

Razzle Dazzle Writing: Achieving Excellence Through 50 Target Skills

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