Verbs are the powerhouse of your sentences; choose them wisely.
Another issue that I see frequently in the work that I edit is weak verbs coupled with nouns that are strong verbs in disguise. Consider the following sentences:
The managing editor made a recommendation to use a new style guide.
The managing editor recommended a new style guide.
In the first sentence, made is a weak verb used with the noun recommendation. But as the second sentence demonstrates, you can simplify and strengthen the sentence by using recommend as the verb.
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Here are 17 examples of this coupling, along with the much stronger verb (examples from Analytical Writing for Science and Technology):
• make a decision > decide
• to be expanded > expand
• formulate an argument > argue
• raise an objection > object
• make restitution > resolve
• express resentment > resent
• arrive at a conclusion > conclude
• make a suggestion > suggest
• perform an analysis > analyze
• develop a plan > plan
• exercise conformity > conform
• undertake a development > develop
• find a solution > solve
• make a revision > revise
• provide clarification > clarify
• give encouragement > encourage
• cause a delay > delay
Readers, any other examples to share?
Laura Hale Brockway is an Austin-based writer and editor. Read more of her work at Impertinent Remarks.
This article first appeared on Ragan.com in June 2012.