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Strengthen your Adjectives and Verbs

Updated: Aug 1, 2018



Weak adjectives and verbs sap the strength from your writing. Use the best adjectives possible when writing a description. Be mindful that certain words, like really and very, usually precede weak adjectives.


Examples of weak verbs:

  • Running – instead try sprinting

  • Walking slow – instead try ambling

  • Jumping with joy – instead try leaping

Examples of weak adjectives:

  • Really bad – instead try terrible

  • Really good – instead try great

  • Very big – instead try huge

  • Very beautiful – instead try gorgeous

You can often give your writing more impact by using stronger alternatives:

  • Dirty – Filthy

  • Tired – Exhausted

  • Scared – Terrified

  • Happy – Ecstatic

Remove -ily words before your verbs

  • Quietly tiptoed – tiptoed (as this word already implies that you're being quiet)

  • Loudly yelled – screamed

  • Talked quickly – blabbered

  • Hastily ran – sprinted

Even worse than using weak adjectives is using weak adjectives to tell your readers what something isn’t as opposed to telling them what something is:

  • It’s not that good – it’s terrible

  • He’s not a bore – he’s hilarious

  • He’s not very smart – he’s ignorant

Likewise, we often use clichés to describe someone or something, when a stronger adjective can be used instead.

  • He has a way with words – he is articulate

  • She’s got attitude – she is arrogant

  • There is no stopping him – He is determined

  • I’m afraid she’s not cut out for this – I’m afraid she’s incompetent

  • Getting the committee back on track is impossible – The committee is unfocused


Let's put this all together


Before

Happily, Dianne ran fast through the very tall grass. She was a very pretty girl with nice legs and a thin waist. As always, she smiled; she was not a self-conscious child; once she put her mind to something, there was no stopping her.


After

Ecstatic, Dianne sprinted through the knee-high grass. She was a gorgeous girl with a dancer's legs and a slender waist. Her usual grin rested smugly on her lips; she was an entertaining, determined girl.


Have a look through your work to see how you can strengthen your verbs and adjectives.

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