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Choose Your Verbs Carefully

Here at All Things Writing, LLC, we love words. Long words, short words, poetic words and words that get straight to the point. We also love grammar and parts of speech. One of our favorite and more important parts of speech is the verb. Verbs are the doers — the movers and shakers in your sentence that liven things up and keep things interesting!

What Is a Verb?

So just what is a verb? There are two types of verbs: action verbs and state-of-being verbs.

Action verbs jazz things up. They make things happen by expressing physical or mental actions and telling you what the subject of your sentence did. Some examples of physical action verbs are gallop, dance and wallow. Mental action verbs are things that happen but you might not be able to see, like know, think and wonder.

The second type of verbs, state-of-being verbs, are a little more esoteric. They don’t express any action. They’re kind of Zen, just a state of being. These verbs hold sentences together, too, but without showing action. Examples of state-of-being verbs are is, will be and am.

Active vs. Passive

So we’ve just told you that verbs are active, and now we’re saying they can be passive. What? Verbs are meant to show action, so let them shine in all their glory. Don’t diminish them with passive voice. If you’re not familiar with passive voice, there’s a slick industry trick that allows you to check for it. And it involves zombies. (Who said grammar isn’t cool?!) So what do you do with the zombies? Well, you write your sentence and stick the phrase “by zombies” in after your verb. If it makes sense, the zombies have taken over and your sentence is passive. Let’s look at a couple examples:

  1. We sold 1,000 groundbreaking products last month.
  2. 1,000 groundbreaking products were sold.

In example number one, we did the action. We were the successful ones who made those sales happen! WAY TO GO! In example number two, who did it? Are you claiming credit for that awesome action? Nope. It just happened. And can you insert those zombies in? (1,000 groundbreaking products were sold…by zombies.) Yep. The zombies can steal your credit.

Not only is action voice proper writing, but you can see how it’s much more direct. When communicating about your personal or business success, you want to be direct and tell your readers that YOU made the incredible things happen! Action verbs help you boast professionally.

Mixing Things Up

Verbs are our best friends when it comes to adding excitement and action to our marketing communications. Just be sure to use a variety of them. Varying your verbs is extremely important. Which one of these examples is more appealing?

  1. He ate pickles. She ate soft-shell crabs. His mother ate lamb chops.
  2. He gobbled up the pickles. She devoured her soft-shell crabs, and his mother savored her lamb chops.

Can you see how number two is preferable? Not only did we vary up our verb usage, but we made them more descriptive and exciting too. Descriptive action verbs help paint a picture for your readers. Instead of saying “He went to the store,” could he have strolled, wandered aimlessly until he got there or ran at the speed of light instead? Any of these choices create a mental picture for your audience.

Word Choices Matter

Choose Your Verbs CarefullyThese little verbs and the words that enhance them hold a lot of power and are crucial to keeping your readers’ attention. No one wants to read the same words over and over, and no one wants to read a boring passage that takes them back to their standardized testing days in school. Jazz things up. Be descriptive, and really draw your readers in.

If your writing skills aren’t listed in your top five things that you rock at in life, give us a call. The professionals at All Things Writing, LLC are well versed in creating interesting, compelling blogs, web content and more that will portray your business in the descriptive, professional light you deserve. We can craft up some awesome action verbs for you, while you bask in the success of your story. Contact us today.

Erin Pittman, Lead Editor

A project manager, writer and editor, Erin Pittman has almost a decade of professional experience in both print and online materials. She holds a BA in English from Randolph-Macon College. Her work has been featured in local and national publications, as well as on various local and national websites and blogs. Writing topics include marketing, personal finance, special needs, military, parenting, seniors, local events, real estate, service industries, business profiles and more.