What Is a Weak Verb Sentence Structure?

In writing, verbs can help you convey a specific message and structure your thoughts and feelings, but their effectiveness depends on the verb you select for your sentence. A weak verb that only implies the action being performed is less useful to a strong sentence than a strong verb that clearly states the action and helps a reader visualize it.

Weak Verbs

Weak verbs are vague action words. They lack descriptive qualities that make writing interesting. Some of these verbs require “ed” at the end to form the past tense of the word. For instance, the verb “walk” becomes “walked” to show that the action occurred in the past. However, the action verb “walk” only implies the action performed by the subject, which makes it a weak verb. When the verb forms of “to be,” such as “is” or “was” are placed in front of weak verbs, they become “is walking” or “was walking” and they also imply the action performed by the subject, but nothing further, which makes them weak verbs.

Weak Verbs in Sentences

When weak verbs are used in sentences, they inhibit clarity and the power of active voice. Consider the following example: The sailors were moving to the barracks. It includes "were," which is a “to be” verb, and a conjugation of the weak verb “move.” The action is implied, but we don’t know exactly how the soldiers moved. They could be skipping or tiptoeing. Now, consider the revised version of the sentence: "The sailors march to the barracks." It includes a strong verb, and the action is clear and concise, making the whole sentence a stronger statement that the reader can easily picture.

  • Sharp Grammar: Build Better Grammar Skills; Kaplan
About the Author

Valerie O'Brien has been an English teacher for grades 6-8 since 2008. O'Brien holds a Master of Science in education from Indiana Universtiy. O'Brien enjoys all things related to writing and is working on her memoir.

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