Give Me a Verb

When you write with nouns and verbs–instead of adjectives and adverbs–you write with power. But all too often, writers undermine their verbs, adding empty phrases or using weaker forms of the verb.

Strong verbs are exciting–strong verbs drive excitement. Want to score big with your verbs? Watch out for:

  • The “ing” constructions. Instead of “we are currently manufacturing…,” try “we currently manufacture….”
  • Passive constructions. Instead of “our precision tools are designed by expert engineers,” try “our expert engineers design precision tools.”
  • Noun phrases. Instead of “we are the developers of the first…,” try “we developed the first…”
  • The word “of.” Instead of “we are engaged in the research of…,” try “we research….”
  • Verb tenses you don’t need. Instead of “your process will have been transformed…,” try “your process will be transform.”
  • “There are” constructions. Instead of “there are three ways to solve this problem…” try “this problem has three solutions….”
  • Negatives. Instead of “never buy a car without test driving it first,” try “always test drive a car before buying it.”

Now a word of caution: When you edit for stronger verbs (or any other improvement), re-read the entire sentence to make sure it still makes sense. You might change “we are currently manufacturing small containers” and find that the sentence now reads “we are currently manufacture small containers”–with the “are” left in by mistake.

This problem occurs so frequently that 250 years ago, Samuel Johnson (the writer of the first well-known English dictionary) stated, “The making [of] a partial change, without due regard to the general structure of the sentence, is a very frequent cause of error in composition.” Or as we might say now: Don’t trade your weak verbs for a nonsense sentence!

From our base in Peterborough, NH, TWP Marketing & Technical Communications writes marketing copy that engages your customers and delivers your marketing message with accuracy, clarity, and passion.