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.
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.
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).
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.”
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.
Strong Verbs Word List
So, here you go, a list of strong verbs. Let’s start with the following:
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.
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. 🙂