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There’s gold in them there verbs

March 25, 2011

Whenever I review a sentence I look for the verb. It’s the source of energy that drives the writing. The nouns sit about, occasionally decorated by adjectives, but verbs with their excitable friends, adverbs, do the rousing stuff. And what a difference a verb makes. They not only energise, they change the temperature of the text.

  • We believe you should respond as quickly as possible.
  • We ask you to respond as quickly as possible.
  • We suggest you respond as quickly as possible.
  • We instruct you to respond as quickly as possible.

The choice of verb dramatically changes the voice of the writer. Are we instructing or are we persuading? The reader will react to all of these statements, but which reaction do we want? If you really want to inject energy into your text and involve and control the reader then spend time on your verbs.  [TS]

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 28, 2011 13:57

    I like your description of nouns ‘sitting about’. That is exactly right – they don’t add energy. Pack as much meaning as you can into verbs to increase the power of your sentences. Even a mundane sentence like this: ‘He gave a presentation to the board’ is improved by shifting the meaning of the noun into the verb: ‘He presented his findings to the board’. The sentence is more compact because you have a new piece of information ‘findings’ in the same number of words. I don’t know about you, but I visualise a more energetic presenter in the second sentence. Daft but true.

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