5 Reasons Why Verbs Are More Effective Than Adjectives


Guest Post

It is important to add value to what you are selling. Whether you’re writing a blog, a cover letter for your resume, a sales copy for a client or a tweet, drawing the attention of your reader is what sets you apart.

There’s an information overload today and simplicity is not a luxury; it is a necessity. Using more verbs than adjectives makes your writing simple in multiple ways.

If you want publishers to like your work, use the right verbs. If you want your readers to keep visiting, use the right verbs. Adjectives, as extravagant as they can be, can be avoided when you are really sure of their purpose.

Here are 5 reasons why:

1) Verbs prove a point.

Whether in a sentence or whether on their own, verbs are the most functional part of the sentence. They are the spark that ignites your sentence. If your sentence were a machine, your verb is the engine. Think about it, there can be no sentence without the verb.

Examples:

  1. Read on.
  2. Look.
  3. Try harder.
  4. This might work if the sentence were longer.

Now, try reconstructing these sentences without the verbs. They do not make sense, do they? Adjectives, on the other hand, make your speech flowery for no precise, grand, debatable reason. See?

2) Verbs make shorter sentences.

And “brevity is the soul of wit,” said a not-so-bad playwright. You probably are not reading this article from start to finish. In fact, you might not even be reading this sentence. This is getting annoying for a discussion on brevity. You either have to be entertaining or use short sentences. “Blessed are the short witted, for they shall be heard again,” a preacher used to say when he called off his sermon earlier than usual. Short sentences are easy to follow. If you read Hemingway, you’d know. Or Stephen King. Or Basho.

3) Verbs draw immediate attention.

Copywriters will tell you this. They use verbs when writing Calls to Action, like:

  1. Buy on Discount
  2. Get Now
  3. Try Fast
  4. Hurry

Also, the active voice is more powerful than the passive voice. For example, ‘She missed the subway and took the cab,’ sounds better than, ‘The subway was missed and the cab was taken by her.’

4)  Verbs are more persuasive.

They convince the reader. Verbs provide justification with force while adjectives don’t say all that much. Imagine writing a Letter of Recommendation for ex-employee. Dee Leopold, Managing Director of MBA of admissions at Harvard Business School, once said, ‘The best recommendations have a lot of verbs. They say “she did this” instead of adjectives that simply describe you.’

Example:

‘He is sincere and responsible,’ sounds dead.

‘He led a team of engineers and worked through a holiday,’ doesn’t.

5) A good writer does her job well.

C.S. Lewis wrote in a letter to Joan Lancaster in his ‘Letters to Children’:

“In writing, don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do your job for me?”

There. We’ve heard it point blank from a man who spoke to both children and theologists with the same ease. Maybe this is worth taking seriously after all.

Writing for writing’s sake is one thing. Writing to sell is another, not discounting adjectives in the least.

Head over to the comments section and type in your opinion. I’d love to hear what you think!

 by Ethan Miller. Ethan is a private ESL tutor, and, apart from his passion for teaching, he loves to write. When he is not teaching or writing his book, Ethan loves to blog and is a huge fan of educational technology. Follow Ethan on Twitter, and his blog.