Strong Subject and Verb Choice

Powerful Verbs and Nouns

“Write with verbs and nouns. The adverb signifies the failure to find the right verb; the adjective, failure to find the right noun.” – Donald Murray

“Whatever the thing you wish to say, there is but one word to express it, but one verb to give it movement, but one adjective to qualify it; you must seek until you find this noun, this verb, this adjective.” -Gustav Flaubert

Use words with muscles: action verbs and concrete nouns.

Verbs: Verbs will be your most useful writing tools. They give a sentence energy and move it forward. Active verbs push hard; passive verbs are whimpy.

Avoid verb phrases. Substitute a succinct single verb:

Instead of: Try:
make adjustments

give instructions to

make mention of

is reflective of

can be compared to

is capable of







–Use specific verbs and avoid vague ones. Use action verbs instead of verbs of being (is, are, was, were, be, being , been).

Instead of I was happy
Try I danced with delight
or I cavorted with joy.

Nouns: Avoid using two or three nouns in a row.

Instead of It is a winter storm warning situation
Try It’s going to snow.

Instead of A hostage standoff situation
Try People have been taken hostage



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