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Beefing Up Your Sentences. Using Strong Verbs. NEC FACET Center. Do your sentences resemble a 90 pound weakling?. Then it’s time to beef them up! Let’s get your brain in the gym!. Hi! I’m Sven, your sentences’ personal trainer. I am going to pump up your sentences in two ways!.

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beefing up your sentences

Beefing Up Your Sentences

Using Strong Verbs



Hi! I’m Sven, your sentences’ personal trainer. I am going to pump up your sentences in two ways!

-Eliminate weak verbs from you sentences.

-Replace weak verbs with strong verbs.

using weak verbs in your sentences is like beating someone with a wet noodle it s weak

Be very afraid! Prepare for your licking!

Let’s start with getting rid of your flabby weak verbs and replacing them with beefy strong verbs!

Using weak verbs in your sentences is like beating someone with a wet noodle! It’s weak!
what is a verb

Every sentence must contain at least one verb.

  • Verbs express actions, events, or states of being.
  • What are the verbs in the following sentences?
  • Derrick dove to the ground as the bullets whizzed overhead.
  • Francisca loved her teddy bear until it fell apart.
  • I will give you the package tomorrow.
  • We were stunned when we heard the news.

A verb is not always one word long. Sometimes several words together act as the verb. This is called a “verb phrase.”

What is a verb?
what are weak verbs

While all verbs are supposed to show action, some don’t do it very well.

  • Weak verbs and weak verb phrases don’t really show action.
  • Examples:
  • Were
  • Is
  • Are
  • Was
  • Would Have been
  • Could have been
  • Should have been
  • Had been
  • Will be

Weak Verb Phrases

What are weak verbs?
an important note

Just because a sentence contains these words:

  • Were
  • Is
  • Are
  • Was
  • Would Have been
  • Could have been
  • Should have been
  • Had been
  • Will be
  • Does not necessarily means they are weak verbs!!!
  • For Example:
  • We were hoping for a snow day today.
  • Daniel is askinghis boss for a raise.
  • I should have been practicingfor the show instead of shopping.
  • We will be lookingfor a replacement player this summer.
  • I was watchingTV when the doorbell rang.
  • The coaches are requiringtwo practices a day.

These words in red are NOT weak verbs. Here they are acting as “helping verbs.” They come before another verb to form a different verb tense.

An Important Note!


  • Tara is afraid of spiders
  • I could have been more careful with who I trusted.
  • Sheila will be sorry when she finds out.
  • The defendant was guilty on all charges.
  • We are so tired of eating tuna casserole.
  • Sarah was surprised to find the flowers in the kitchen.

Notice how these verbs stand alone. Weak verbs occur when the verbs we just looked at stand alone. They are not helping another verb. They ARE the verb.


Mummifying your cat is a great way to forever preserve an old friend.

  • Mummifying your cat forever preserves an old friend.

Check out how weak and out of shape these sentences are!

This sentence is as dry as me! Bring it back to life!

Ahh, much better. Now I don’t have to put a curse on you in which you will smell like kitty litter all of your days.


One of the wild things about Sheila is her collection of zebra print pants.

  • Sheila’s collection of zebra print pants shows her wild side.

These pants are hot, but the sentence lacks action. Get rid of the weak verbs, and add some strong verb pizzazz!


The aliens were not impressed with the human brain.

  • The aliens laughed at the human brain.

This section is dedicated to watching “American Idol,” this section is used for consuming Cheetos….”

Much better! But I am still going to eat your brain! Just kidding…how about a hug instead?


“There is…”

“There are…”

“It is…”

“It was..”

“It will be…”

HELP!!! Save me strong verbs, save me!!!

Those weak verbs were bad, but some weak verbs and phrases can practically stop the heart of your sentences!

“There was…”

“There were…”

“There will be…”

“There could be…”

these bland weak verb phrases lack any action at all

“There is….”

“There are…”

“There will be….”

“There could be…”

“It is…”

“It was….”

“It will be…”

“There was…”

“There were…”

These bland, weak verb phrases lack any action at all.
for example

There is a myth that cows can be tipped over while they are sleeping.

  • It is, however, not true.
  • A myth exists that people can tip over cows while they are sleeping.
  • Scientists have debunked this theory, however.

These sentences are “udderly” boring. But there’s no crying over spilled milk! Improve them by replacing the weak verbs with strong ones!

For Example
for example1

There was actually a study done on cow tipping.

  • The study found that there are two reasons that cow tipping is nearly impossible.
  • Scientists actually studied cow tipping.
  • They uncovered two reasons cow tipping is nearly impossible.
For Example

The weight of the cow and the fact that cows do not sleep standing up are two reasons that cow tipping is challenging.

  • Both the weight of the cow and the fact that cows do not sleep standing up make cow tipping challenging.

I sleep with one eye open buddy!!!


Oh well, I better do what Sven says.

I hope he is not talking to me! I like it here on the sofa!

Your sentences are really firming up. But we’re not done yet! There are some more weak verbs to cut out of your diet! So start working up a sweat!

Of course I am talking to you couch potato! Get moving or get down and give me 15 pushups!

to be adds unnecessary weight to your sentences

“To be” should only be used in a sentence if it is necessary to the meaning of the sentence. For example: “I want to be a mailman when I grow up.”

  • But if “to be” is not necessary to the sentence and removing it would not change the meaning of the sentence, then remove it.

“To be”

“To be” adds unnecessary weight to your sentences.
for example2

Most children find clowns to be frightening.

  • Most children find clowns frightening.

Alright, quit clowning around and fix this sentence!

For example

Babe Ruth is considered to be one the best baseball players in history.

  • Baseball fans consider Babe Ruth one of the best players in history.

Fred continued to be obsessed with Star Wars even after his girlfriend dumped him because of it.

  • Fred’s obsession with Star Wars continued even after his girlfriend dumped him because of it.

Whew! We’ve really worked up a sweat! You have now learned how to whip your sentences into shape and make them lean and mean. Let’s do one more workout together to practice your skills! In the following sentences, remove the weak verbs and weak verb phrases, and replace them with strong verbs.


It is really a shame Americans don’t get as much vacation time as Europeans do.

  • Unfortunately, Americans don’t get as much vacation time as Europeans.

How can we correct this sentence?


Authentic pizza and bagels are the things I miss about New York.

  • I miss New York’s authentic pizza and bagels.

To be accepted by that sorority a woman must be pretty and rich.

  • That sorority only accepts pretty and rich women.

Playing Twister at parties is a really fun activity.

  • We really enjoy playing Twister at parties.

It is rare to see shooting stars.

  • We rarely see shooting stars.

There is something really tacky about wearing white to a wedding.

  • Most people consider wearing white to a wedding very tacky.

Even though Tulsa is a nice city, there aren’t many things to do here.

  • Even though Tulsa possesses many great qualities, it lacks excitement.

Those were some killer workouts! Now all you need is a delicious strong verb protein shake to help your grammar muscles recover.

Strong Verbs


I know, I know Sven. If I don’t exercise I can’t maintain my stunning physique. I have to keep active!

Drink up! And be ready to hit the gym tomorrow!!



The End!