The Grammar GuideVerbsWatch out for hidden verbs in your writing—set them free! (video available)

Watch out for hidden verbs in your writing—set them free! (video available)

Watch out for hidden verbs in your writing—set them free! (video available)

Action verbs strengthen our writing and more engaging. But sometimes, we hide these verbs by turning them into nouns. This can weaken your writing and add unnecessary filler words.

Example: - We will make an announcement...

  • We will announce...

"Make" is a weak verb. By changing "announcement" to "announce," we cut out weak and unneeded words.



Verbs should strengthen your writing. Active verbs can enhance your writing by making it more engaging and easier to read. But sometimes, we weaken our writing by turning verbs into nouns. This process, called nominalization, changes our writing to more passive. It also becomes unnecessarily verbose.

Instead of hiding your verbs, set them free! Watch out for weak verbs like give, have, make, and take. These are often a clue that you have hidden a verb. Then try to turn your nominalized noun into an active verb. Let's take a look at several examples.

Weak: Active verbs make your writing stronger.

Strong: Active verbs strengthen your writing.

Weak: They gave us information about the college.

Strong: They informed us about the college.

Weak: We will make a decision about remote work opportunities by Friday.

Strong: We will decide remote work opportunities by Friday.

Weak: He should take into consideration how hard the team worked on the last project.

Strong: He should consider how hard the team worked on the last project.

Verbs are the engine of our writing. They excite, engage, and inspire.

Verbs should be strong and active. Yet many writers accidentally hide their verbs. This process (called nominalization) turns verbs into nouns and leaves a weak verb in their place. For example: "We will make an announcement," should read as "we will announce." It’s shorter and the verb is changed from the weak "make" to the much stronger "announce."

To find hidden verbs in your writing, look for endings such as these: -ment, -tion, -sion, and -ance. Also, be mindful of weak verbs such as give, have, make, reach, and take.

Don't hide your verbs. Be proud of them! They're your tools. As long as you use the right tool for the job, your writing will improve.

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