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Strong verbs

Author: Kathryn Reilly

What are Strong Verbs?

1.  Strong verbs create a detailed picture in the reader's mind.

    weak verb:       The lion is fighting with a zebra.
    strong verb:     The lion attacked a zebra.

Replacing is fighting with attacked creates a more detailed image of the zebra's struggle to survive.


2.  Strong verbs convey a degree of meaning to the reader.

    weak verb:    The customer asked the clerk to check the price.
    strong verb:  The customer demanded the clerk check the price.

The degree of difference between asked and demanded assists the reader in determining how the customer spoke to the clerk.  In the example, demanded conveys a degree of rudeness.


3.  Strong verbs directly connect the subject to the action in the sentence.

     weak verb:    The car was washed by Mark.  
     strong verb:  Mark washed the car.

 Placing the subject at the front of the sentence links Mark to his action -- washing the car. 


Using strong verbs engages the reader's interest because they provide more description and usually create more concise, direct sentences.

Source: Kathryn Reilly

Strong Verb Definition and Examples

This PowerPoint defines and provides examples for strong and weak verbs. Images in the presentation help to create associations between strong and weak phrases.

Source: Kathryn Reilly

Strong Vs. Weak Verb "Knockout" Skit

In this skit, teachers stage a fight between strong and weak verbs.

Source: YouTube

Strong Verb Practice

See if you can spot the weak verbs and replace them with stronger ones. Practice improving your writing style!


Source: Kathryn Reilly