Weak words series: why you should avoid weak adjectives and verbs?
When we write, we want to our readers to understand exactly what we mean. We also want to create an image in our readers' minds. Verbs are often the best way to set the scene. But weak verbs can make our writing vague and wordy.
Some weak verbs include the forms of "to be" or "to have." But there are other verbs that don't tell us much about the scene or require extra adverbs or adjectives to get our point across. We can replace these weak verbs with stronger synonyms.
Weak: She walked nervously around the room, trying to figure out what to do.
Strong: She paced around the room, trying to figure out what to do.
One of the best ways to ensure your writing is more interesting and precise is to use strong verbs. Weak verbs can muddle our writing. Sometimes, weak verbs make it hard to understand exactly what we are saying. Then we add extra words to provide clarity, like adverbs or nominalizations. But these make our writing dull, vague, and wordy.
We want our writing to pack a punch, and strong verbs are the way to do it. We know to avoid too many "be" verbs. "Have" is another weak verb. But what are some other action verbs that aren't strong?
Walk is an example of a weak verb. It doesn't tell us anything about how the person or thing is walking. We could add adverbs, but too many adverbs slow down our writing. They aren't as powerful as using a stronger synonym.
Weak: He walked loudly up the stairs to his room.
Strong: He stomped up the stairs to his room.
Weak: The horse walked to the barn.
Strong: The horse trotted to the barn.
We get a much clearer example using less words by picking strong verbs.
Here are some more examples:
Weak: She went to the hospital as soon as she heard the news.
Strong: She rushed to the hospital as soon as she heard the news.
Weak: The child looked angrily at his friend.
Strong: The child glared at his friend.
Weak: She was making chicken for dinner.
Strong: She was frying chicken for dinner.
Check your writing to make sure you are using precise, strong verbs that paint a picture and avoid unnecessary words. Resources like thesauruses and reverse dictionaries can help you find the exact synonym you need.