Online College Courses for Credit

Strong verbs

Strong verbs

Author: Kathryn Reilly

    Introduce the difference between strong and weak verbs and how strong verbs can improve writing style.


    Explain how to convert roundabout phrases into strong and direct verbs. 


This packet should help a learner seeking to understand English writing style and who is confused about how to use effective verbs. It will explain the difference between strong and weak verbs. 

See More
Fast, Free College Credit

Developing Effective Teams

Let's Ride
*No strings attached. This college course is 100% free and is worth 1 semester credit.

37 Sophia partners guarantee credit transfer.

300 Institutions have accepted or given pre-approval for credit transfer.

* The American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE Credit®) has evaluated and recommended college credit for 32 of Sophia’s online courses. Many different colleges and universities consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their course and degree programs.


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