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Writing for the Web

Chapter 4 - The Powerful Verb

Why Verbs?

Nouns are like still carnival rides waiting for someone to ride them. Verbs switch them on to create excitement and drama. Verbs may be the most powerful writing tools in the English language, but many writers choose nouns over verbs. Which sentence is more lively and direct?

1. James has a preference for fully-loaded pizza.
2. James prefers a fully-loaded pizza.

In the first sentence "a preference" is a noun form that causes passivity and wordiness. By using "prefer" as a verb in the second sentence, James becomes an active participant, and the sentence is short and sweet. Remember to choose the powerful verb over the clumpy noun when you write for the web.


Rewrite the following sentence: In the event of the parolee's use of illegal weapons, the parole will terminate.

Using The Verb To Be

Use the verb to be only when you want to say what something is or what something is like, not when you want to say what something does. Do not write like this: It was the belief of the rowdy fans that the umpire made a bad call. Instead, write like this: The rowdy fans believed that the umpire made a bad call.

We improved the second sentence by replacing the verb to be ("was the belief") with the verb to believe.

Powerful Words

Verbs breathe life to your documents. Just by reading the following single words, you can appreciate the value of the verb.

Taste, Relax, Enjoy, Suffer, Win, Attack

Go to Chapter 5 - Ugly Prepositions --- Go Back to Chapter 3 - Sentences
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