choose your words wisely

Strong Verbs Word List

What are synonyms for the word “say”? How many times can you repeat “he said”, “she said” in a novel without making it sound repetitive? How to avoid a frequent use of “was/were” and what are good synonyms for the verb “walk”? A strong verbs word list would definitely be a great help. You could print it out and leave it on your desk or in a folder. It is always handy to refer back to it when you are writing a book or typing a new blog post, or for any other writing endeavor.

Using strong verbs is something I remember learning in school when I studied English as a foreign language. Although this is not something that one is likely to forget, we all tend to use the same words sometimes when writing long texts, because we either do not realize that we are doing it, or another word just doesn’t come up at that moment, or the synonym we are thinking of does not fit in that well.

strong verbs word list

That’s why editing is a writer’s best friend. When you check your work you will see those repetitions and you can make a few changes.

What About Adjectives and Adverbs?

I used a few adjectives in the first paragraphs of this article. It is, after all, what we learned in school and what got us good grades. Besides, there are some wonderfully descriptive adjectives. Nonetheless, one thing that writers recommend when you are writing a novel is to show and not tell. It is all right to use adjectives and adverbs, but they will only help you describe but not show what you want to convey.

Show - don't tell

Strong nouns and verbs, however, will help you show what is happening instead of giving the reader a description. If you can demonstrate the action or place or sentiment or whatever you are talking about, it will create a better experience for readers, allowing them to feel the emotions you want them to interpret.

Show, Don’t Tell

Not only in books, but also blog posts, showing is more important than telling. We are no longer writing school essays. We are communicating with readers whom you want to connect with your work. Therefore, an expository essay may likely produce some stifled yawns, even if the topic is interesting.

Replace the weak verbs with strong, vibrant verbs and blow new life into your manuscript (or article).

blow life

Let’s look at an example.

Tell ==> “I heard his footsteps behind me and I was really scared.”

Show ==> “Fear crept up my spine when steps thumped on the path.”

Here’s another one.

Tell ==> “He gave me a frightening look.”

Show ==> “His cold gaze penetrated me, accelerating the frantic pounding of my heart.”

As you can see, strong verbs can make all the difference.

As Anton Chekhov once said: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

moonlight
Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

To Be or Not To Be?

To be is a verb that cannot be avoided. Then, how does the advice of decreasing its use in writing make sense? Eliminating to be is not possible, of course, but you can avoid repetition, as is demonstrated in the following examples:

Johnny is a lover of beach life. ==> Johnny treasures beach life.

Jules was a party girl. ==> Jules adored the nightlife.

The changes that are applied make the sentence appear more vibrant and powerful. So, whenever it is possible you can apply these edits to your articles, manuscripts, and other works of writing.

verb list

Strong Verbs Word List

So, here you go, a list of strong verbs. Let’s start with the following:

  • Say
    • speak
    • talk
    • utter
    • comment
    • remark
    • observe
    • state
    • announce
    • propose
    • mention
  • Walk
    • amble
    • saunter
    • stroll
    • march
    • stride
    • wander
    • plod
    • etc

Since “say” and “walk” are often used, I started of with those two. Without further ado, find below a list of 155 strong verbs. Click on the arrows to scroll down. If you can think of any other ones, please feel free to add them in the comments.

     

Final Thoughts

Using these verbs and replacing the feeble verbs with strong ones makes your statements and text in general more powerful. It helps to place a clearer image in the mind of the reader and improve the reading experience. All in all, both the writer and the reader win. So, let’s not tally, pen your message, enhanced by strong verbs. 🙂

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13 thoughts on “Strong Verbs Word List

  1. This was a really good read for me really and I must say that I have enjoyed every once of being able to understand verbs and how they work too. I like to add that you seem really good at this which in my opinion is helpful too. I’m a new blogger and I know that writing well is one thing that will help me have customers that’ll keep coming eonits good I’m able to learn more about this word lists.

    1. Hi Jackie,

      I am glad that this was helpful. Feel free to check out more blogging tips on my website 😉 . Wishing you all the best with your blogging journey!

  2. Hello there, thank you for sharing this informative and educative article. This article is centered on strong verbs word list. This article would do a great deal with brushing up one’s English. Using  strong verbs makes ones statements and text in general more powerful which is why i will adopt the method of using strong verbs.

  3. Christine,

    I loved this article, often when I’m writing my first draft of anything it’s about getting the initial ideas on paper which results in a lot of “telling” instead of “showing.” It’s something I try to go back and fix in my first edit of a piece, but it can be tough to get that flow back that you’re feeling when initially writing a piece.

    Thanks again for the list of words, they’ll come in handy!
    Sean

    1. Hi Sean,

      It’s always a good idea to have a first draft where you can fix things in order to produce your final draft. I understand that sometimes it may be a little tough to get that initial flow back, it happens to all of us, I think.
      Thank you for your comment!

  4. Marvelous, Christine, I always learn so much from your articles! Now I have to get it into practice 🙂
    At times I wonder why I write in English, as it’s not my mother language. I don’t even know the meaning of adverb and adjective, ROFLOL. Often I could express myself in Dutch way better. The reason is of course that the English ‘market’ is bigger and I love speaking different languages.
    Your examples are true eye-openers.
    What helps me a lot as well is the website thesaurus-com and the translate site of google. If I put English in the left column – it doesn’t matter which language is in the right column – there is a whole list of synonyms below.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Hannie,

      The website thesaurus provides valuable help, and it is quick. I love using it too!
      English isn’t my mothertongue either, but yes, we write in English, since the English market is bigger. I have not spoken Dutch in years and I believe that now I express myself better in English or Spanish (I live in Mexico) than in Dutch, lol. Funny how that happens. 😉

  5. Hi Christine,

    This is a very good post and very useful I find myself having to always look for synonyms in order to avoid repeating the same words every time I write a post.
    Your list for the verb’ say’ will be extremely useful to me for future articles. I think you are doing a great job with your website and I believe you will help many people expand their vocabulary.

    Kind regards,
    Yoana

  6. Thank you Christine, 

    Very few of us understand how to show and not tell. I like the way you broke down the words. You gave the words and strong synonyms that can convieniently replace them. I always find this challenging when writing. Just to let you know, I have copied down this words for my personal use. I will also try to make notes as I write on 

  7. Wow! Christine!
    How brilliantly put: very clear and concise. Those examples are definitely “light bulb” moments for me, and I just love the image of the pathway through the page in the book. This helps me understand visually, what is being explained.I will try to include more strong verbs in my writing in future. Please just take me back 50 years, and let me have you as my English teacher! 🙂

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