Using Strong Verbs

Contributor: Emily Love. Lesson ID: 10553

Sally's affection for her dog is great. Sally adores her dog! Which sentence is better? Why? Learn all about strong verbs in this lesson. You'll watch a video, use a thesaurus, and re-write a story.


Writing, Writing

English / Language Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  1. Use a thesaurus ( to search for synonyms for the word strong.
  2. Write down four synonyms, which you find most interesting, on a piece of paper. 
  3. Draw a small symbol or character that you think portrays each word. For example, you might draw a man flexing his muscle to symbolize the word strong.

Forceful. Tough. Powerful. These words are just a few of the synonyms for the word strong.

When you were deciding what to draw for strength, did you think about powerful tools, characters, animals, or people? You probably didn't think about verbs. Learning how to use strong verbs, however, is one of the most important keys to improving your writing skills.

Strong Verbs

A strong verb is a specific, descriptive verb used in writing.

Compare the following sentences, and see if you can identify which one has a strong verb in it:

  • Example 1: Mr. Keller is an excellent teacher.
  • Example 2: Mr. Keller inspires his students.

Inspires is a much stronger verb than is. The two sentences communicate the same idea, but the second sentence is more direct and engaging. Using strong verbs will help you avoid repetition in your writing and will add variety to your sentence structure.

Watch Strong Verbs by SAS Curriculum Pathways:

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The video describes verbs as the engines of the sentences.

Because they are the most powerful parts of sentences, you must focus on strong verb choice in your own writing. The video offers several suggestions to help you incorporate strong verbs into your writing:

  1. Check your writing for overuse of to be verbs, such as is, am, are, was, were, or been. If you find that you have used a lot of these words, try to replace some of them with strong verbs.
    Use the Intermediate Strong Verbs List to get some ideas. This can be found in the Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar.
  2. List every verb in your paragraph or essay and make sure these words inform your reader of your topic. If not, try adding in some stronger verbs that relate to your topic.
  3. Check your writing for verbs dressed up like nouns, especially words ending in –ion. In many cases, you can change these words to a strong verb:
    Jackson's concoction is disgusting.
    Jackson concocted a disgusting drink.
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