17 verbs that cut fat from your writing

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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.

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