Subsection 7.3.4 Using Strong Verbs
While we use “to be” frequently in our every day speech, the verb is often too weak as the main verb in formal writing. Uses of “to be” include: to be, being, am, is, are, was, and were.
Writers prefer not to overuse “to be” because English contains plenty of stronger (i.e., more active, informative, and interesting) verbs. “To be” also frequently indicates that you are using passive voice. Using “to be” too much thus makes your writing boring or too passive. Which passage below do you prefer?
“I was going to Diversions when I saw something that was interesting. It was my friend, Sally. Sally was outside and was sleeping on her chemistry textbook.”
“On my way to Diversions, I happened upon an interesting (and funny) sight: my friend, Sally, had fallen asleep outside, using her chemistry textbook as a pillow!”
Warning 7.3.9. Thesaurus Use.
Try using a thesaurus to find alternative words, but use caution! Sometimes thesauruses mislead writers when the writer doesn't fully understand the connotation or typical uses of a synonym.
Here's a list of Some Strong Verbs to consider using. There are short definitions to give you an idea of what the word means, but be sure to look up any words you use to make sure that the contexts in which you're using them align with their meaning. There may also be alternative meanings that aren't listed here, so the dictionary and thesaurus will still be your friends.
Example 7.3.10. Some Strong Verbs.
to assert or support
to point out indirectly
to combine or unite pieces into a whole, to merge
to make better
to find out or make sure
to reinforce, support
to criticize severely
to acknowledge or grant something
to assert or argue
to oppose, challenge, or argue against
to object, be reluctant
to make a distinction between
to explain, make clear
to make able or powerful, to make possible
to lead to, to produce or cause
to try, attempt
to make worse, exasperate
to criticize or denounce severely
to act as, operate
to lessen severity or intensity, to alleviate
to permeate, spread throughout
to offer, give, introduce, show
to waste, spend, use irresponsibly
to stop, block
to support something with evidence
to take the place of, replace
to defame or slander
You don't need to fill your writing with big, obscure words; instead, you'll want to use more complex words where appropriate to convey meaning more precisely and concisely.