Improve Academic Essays: Strengthen Verbs and Add Active Ones

Improve Academic Essays: Strengthen Verbs and Add Active Ones

If an essay is basically written well but seems to fall short, it may just require scrutiny - are the verbs doing all they can?


Students will often read their essays (or those of peers) and realize that the essay lacks smoothness and seems difficult to read through. Sometimes all it takes is a mere changing of verbs - it can be simply changing the way a verb works within the sentence, or sometimes just adding an active verb can improve an essay.
Look at Verbs With a Critical Eye and Strengthen Them
A rough draft is simply that - rough! But it's also the fastest, easiest way to get an essay on paper, and oftentimes that means that sentences and paragraphs can seem clunky. But the transition from first to final draft should involve making the essay more easily understood and enjoyed, and making it more enjoyable means making it easier to read. Strengthening verbs can do just that.
Here is an example of a rough draft sentence that could stand to have its verbs strengthened:
• The idea of mandatory drug testing is a debate among employers, employees, and insurance companies.
This sentence doesn't feel quite right. It seems a little awkward and doesn't necessarily say what it needs to. One way to improve the sentence is by strengthening the verb:
• Mandatory drug testing is debated among employers, employees, and insurance companies.
The sentence is definitely better, but it can still stand further improvement. The writer must ask herself if, perhaps, her verb use is now too passive. If so, the sentence can be made even better:
• Employers, employees, and insurance companies debate the importance of mandatory drug testing.
Notice that the last version of the sentence sounds more convincing, assured, and authoritative, and it is all due to strengthening the verb. Here is another example of taking a rough draft sentence from okay to great:
• First attempt: What the age of majority represents is to make sure youth don't get themselves into situations they're not ready to handle yet.
• Improved: The age of majority was established to help youth keep themselves out of situations they're not ready to handle yet.
• Best: The age of majority ensures that youth can avoid situations they're not ready to handle yet.
While there are many ways to improve this sentence, simply making the verb stronger makes it better and smoother.
Change Verbs From Passive to Active to Improve a Sentence
Just like strengthening a sentence can make a big difference in the way an essay reads, making a sentence active instead of passive can improve an essay immensely. Here are some examples of passive sentences:
• The papers were picked up by the teacher.
• The baton was handed off to the next runner.
• The car was filled up with gas.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with these sentences, they are passive. Passive sentences often make a paper dull, awkward, and wordy. These sentences can be made active with a simple rewrite:
• The teacher picked up the papers.
• The first runner handed off the baton to the next runner.
• I filled up the car with gas.
Sometimes passive verbs are okay in writing, but most of the time, active verbs are preferred.
Improve Essays by Correcting Verbs
It's not always easy to pinpoint areas of one's essay to correct, but looking over one's paper with the intent of correcting verbs is usually an effective step to take. Strengthening the verbs in a paper ultimately leads to stronger writing.


This article originally appeared on http://essay-writing.suite101.com/article.cfm/improve-academic-essays-strengthen-verbs-and-add-active-ones#ixzz0pnGv2URu

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