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What is a Verb?


Descriptors you can't live without

When it comes to constructing a sentence, the verb is widely considered to be one of the most integral elements. In the simplest of definitions, a verb is an action. Run, drink, talk, drive, and dive are all verbs.

But as with everything English, it can't possibly be that easy, can it? Of course not! Verbs can be transitive or intransitive, can change based on tense, or can just be plain irregular. Never fear, Scribendi's English proofreaders are here to explain the ins and outs of verb usage.    

Verbs are a way of life

A verb, in the English language, is used to describe an action (talk), an event (crumble), or a state (rest). 

Here is an example of verbs at work:

The dog will run to his owner and play in the park.

Both "run" and "play" are verbs, as they are things that the dog is doing.

Transitive and intransitive verbs

A transitive verb is used when someone does something to an object. This means that the sentence must have an object. For example, "Bobby finished his homework." In this sentence, Bobby, the subject, did something to his homework—he finished it. "Homework" is thus the direct object in the sentence. On the other hand, intransitive verbs don't require direct objects. For example, "Sandra will sleep until noon." The verb "sleep" has no object. Verbs of motion are further examples of intransitive verbs, e.g., "She ran" or "We drove."

There's no need to be tense about verbs

A pile of words on a white background.

The proofreaders at Scribendi recognize 18 possible verb tenses. This may sound intimidating, but unless you're a linguist, you'll probably never even notice you're using them! The three tenses that are most commonly referred to are present, past, and future:

Present: I drink.

Past: I drank.

Future: I will drink.

A present tense verb is used to describe something you are currently doing. The past tense is used to describe something you have done, and the future tense denotes your intention to do something later.

It is important to use the correct tense when you are writing. If you are writing in the present tense, your verbs must reflect this.

If your narrative takes place in the past, you must use the past tense. Remember, when writing in the past tense, you must conjugate (modify) your verbs from present to past. This is seen in the example above. In the present tense, you drink, but in the past tense, you drank (drink has been conjugated, or modified, to reflect the past tense).

Irregular verbs

You may be wondering why, when drink moved from present to past tense, its spelling changed. This is due to one of the trickiest things in the English language: the irregular verb. There are more than 370 irregular verbs in modern English, most of which occur when a verb is conjugated into the past tense. An irregular verb is one that cannot be conjugated by adding –es, –ed, or –ing to it.

Here is an example of a regular verb compared with an irregular verb:

As you can see, to conjugate the regular verb, our English proofreaders need only place an –ed at the end, leaving the word otherwise unchanged. To conjugate the irregular verb, however, we added nothing to the end, but rather changed the spelling of the original word.

This concept is often difficult for native English speakers to comprehend, so one can only imagine the difficulties that English as a second language students must encounter! Common errors occur when students fail to recognize these special rules, resulting in incorrect verb usage, such as "I digged a hole!" or "I drinked all of my milk!"

Remember the basics

Although verbs are often a source of confusion for new writers, these action words are nothing to be worried about. Simply remember that if you are describing an action, you need a verb to do it.

If you are learning English and are worried about your use of proper verb tense or conjugation, please don't hesitate to submit your document to the professional editors and proofreaders at Scribendi. Our experts are always available to help improve your English writing.

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Essay Verbs – Tips On Crafting A Great Paper

Now, a sentence cannot be complete or grammatically correct without a verb. What this means is that all of us have used verbs in one way or the other. In the most simple definition, a verb is an action or a doing word. Such words include eat, write, copy, yawn, run or sleep. All these show an activity done by a particular subject. In this post, we will be looking at some of the power verbs for essays. So keep your eyes peeled.

We explore another interesting aspect:

Subclasses of Essay Verbs

In this part, we endeavor to understand the five kinds of verbs.

In a broad sense, there are two groups of main verbs: Action No-action verbs These are subdivided into four types of main verbs , namely: Transitive verbs Intransitive verbs The two are action verbs . The verb ‘to be’ Linking verbs They are part of the no-action verbs. Lastly, we have one more category, which is not the main verb . It is the: Auxiliary verb All these five subclasses form part of the verbs to use in essays for top-grade results.

Let us now look at them in detail and see how we can make use of them in the writing of our research papers or essays.

  • Transitive verbs

They comprise of action verbs that one can directly attach a noun to them. In other words, they apply when someone does something to an object. Such a sentence should, therefore, have a purpose. Here is how you can use them in the:

Thesis Statement

Man cut down trees leading to desertification.

In the example above, man is the noun, whereas the word ‘cut’ is the transitive verb. We will look at more examples of strong thesis verbs towards the end of this paper, so watch out!

  • Intransitive Verbs

If you are looking for strong verbs for essays, then this is another subclass to explore for more of such. Intransitive verbs are those that cannot attach directly to a noun. For one to use them in a sentence, they need to have a preposition. Wondering how you can make use of them in your essay? Check out this example of an intransitive verb in the body of a paper:

If all students comply with the regulations, then there would be no need to have corporal punishment in schools.

The intransitive verb used there is ‘with.’

  • The Verb ‘To be’

It doubles up as one of the strong verbs for writing with its diverse uses in an essay. There are several uses of this verb, including:

  • Serving as a Main Verb

When used as a main verb, it typically brings together a grammatical subject with an adjective which is a predicate adjective.

For instance, in your essay conclusion, you can use it in the following manner: In conclusion, corporal punishment is painful.

It can also integrate a grammatical subject with another noun or a predicate noun. An example can be:

The father is president.
  • Serving as an Auxiliary Verb

In such a case, it forms the progressive tense. You can use it for such a sentence in your essay body: We are killing Mother Nature.

  • Linking Verbs

These good verbs to use in writing are part of the no-action verbs . They link a grammatical subject to an adjective.

Such powerful verbs can appear in a sentence in the following manner:

Carbon IV oxide smells terrible.

They can also link the subject to a noun:

Managers ought to be honest men.

Lastly, they can link to a phrase:

Global warming seems out of control.
  • Auxiliary Verbs

These action verbs for essays are not main verbs. They are helping verbs which cannot form sentences by themselves. They hook up with the main verb, which allows them to show different tenses or conditions.

It is one of the good verbs to use in your essay body.

For instance: By the time I checked in, everyone had already done so.

The list of strong verbs is long, and one cannot wholesomely deal within this short piece. However, for college students who still need writing help, then our professional writers are best. Give it a try today.

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Verbs in writing assignments.

Here are some verbs commonly used in History essay and paper questions. Be sure you know what you are being asked to do. Also, try to use these verbs in your own writing.

Analyze : Take apart and look at each part closely

Compare : Look for similarities & differences; stress similarities

Contrast : Look for similarities & differences; stress differences

Critique : Point out both positive & negative aspects

Define : Explain exactly what something means

Describe : Show what something looks like, including physical features

Discuss : Explore an issue from all sides; implies wide latitude

Evaluate : make a value judgment according to some criteria (which you make clear)

Explain : Clarify or interpret how something works or happens

Illustrate : Show by means of example or educated speculation

Interpret : Translate how or why; implies some subjective judgment

Justify : Argue in support of something, to find positive reasons

List : Order facts, attributes, or items in sequence

Outline : Organize according to hierarchy and/or category

Prove : Demonstrate correctness by use of logic, fact or example

Review : reexamine the main points or highlights of something

State : Assert with confidence

Summarize : Put together the main points; condense

Synthesize : Combine pieces or concepts into new pieces or concept

Trace : Present an outline, or show a sequence, of how or why something occurs or happened  


Academic Writing - Education & CCSC students: Verbs

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Reporting Verbs

Expand your vocabulary of reporting verbs

There are many verbs available apart from stated  or reported  when writing literature reviews. Consider employing verbs from the lists below.

RMIT Study and Learning Centre. Retrieved 2019, from

Tentative reporting verbs


Neutral reporting verbs

Strong reporting verbs.

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152 Analysis Verbs

list of analysis verbs

Analysis verbs are helpful in demonstrating your higher-order thinking skills. They help you to show that you haven’t just understood what you read, but that you can also critique it.

Use analysis verbs as a way of demonstrating your mastery of a topic. But instead of simply using the same verb over and over again, try to mix up your use of analysis verbs to convey the most precise meaning you can in each context.

Below are over 150 examples of analysis verbs that you can use. Make sure you choose wisely for your situation.

Analysis Verbs List

  • Articulates
  • Casts Doubt
  • Characterizes
  • Contradicts
  • Deconstructs
  • Demonstrates
  • Differentiates
  • Distinguishes
  • Embellishes
  • Establishes
  • Exaggerates
  • Exemplifies
  • Extrapolates
  • Facilitates
  • Foreshadows
  • Hypothesizes
  • Illustrates
  • Incorporates
  • Investigates
  • Legitimizes
  • Manipulates
  • Misses the Point
  • Particularizes
  • Perpetuates
  • Personifies
  • Presupposes
  • Problematizes
  • Rationalizes
  • Recapitulates
  • Sensationalizes
  • Strengthens
  • Substantiates

Examples of Analysis Verbs in a Sentence

Advises – Johnson advises that students should finish their essays at least two weeks before due date.

Advocates – The writer advocates for one perspective over another.

Affects – The study affects how we perceive the data.

Alleges – The author alleges that earlier research was poorly conducted.

Alludes – In his speech, the student alludes to recent studies.

Amplifies – The new information amplifies the theory.

Argues – The professor argues that their position is more valid.

Articulates – The student articulates her ideas well.

Asserts – The article asserts that the data was valid.

Assesses – The teacher assesses that the students had poor understanding of the material.

Attributes – The article attributes the cause of the changes to the researcher’s intervention.

Bolsters – The new evidence bolsters the case.

Builds – The professor builds upon their previous arguments in their new book.

Casts Doubt – The study casts doubt on the previous research.

Certifies – The article certifies that the data is accurate.

Characterizes – The article characterizes the data as accurate.

Claims – The author claims that they have found new information.

Clarifies – The author clarifies what they mean in the second paragraph.

Collates – The study accurately collates the data.

Compares – The study compares their findings to previous findings.

Compels – The evidence compels the jury to find the defendant guilty.

Complies – The study complies with the requirements for methodological rigor.

Concedes – The author concedes that they were wrong.

Concludes – The study concludes that there is a correlation between sleep and grades.

Confirms – The new data confirms the theory.

Connects – The study connects the dots to generate new data.

Constructs – The professor constructs an argument.

Contradicts – The new evidence contradicts the old evidence.

Contrasts – The article contrasts the two perspectives.

Conveys – The author conveys their feelings about the subject matter.

Correlates – The study correlates the two datasets effectively.

Creates – The study creates a strong argument.

Criticizes – The article criticizes the government’s response to the crisis.

Critiques – The student critiques the article.

Deconstructs – The professor deconstructs the popular theory.

Deepens – The research deepens our understanding of the phenomenon.

Defends – The author defends their position.

Demonstrates – The experiment demonstrates that the data is accurate.

Denies – The author denies that the previous study is accurate.

Denotes – The study denotes that there is a link between the two datasets.

Derives – The student derives their conclusion from the data.

Develops – The author develops a new theory.

Deviates – The results deviate from what was expected.

Differentiates – The article differentiates between the two types of research.

Diminishes – The impact of the evidence diminishes over time.

Disagrees – The two scientists disagree about the results of the experiment.

Discards – The author discards the irrelevant evidence.

Discredits – The study discredits the old evidence.

Disproves – The new evidence disproves the theory.

Distinguishes – The article distinguishes between the two types of research.

Eclipses – The new evidence eclipses the old evidence.

Elaborates – The author elaborates on their point in the second paragraph.

Elevates – The writer elevates their position.

Elicits – The writer elicits a response from their readers.

Embellishes – The author embellishes the story with details.

Embodies – The book embodies the ideals of the movement.

Emphasizes – The author emphasizes their point with an example.

Encourages – The teacher encourages the students to think outside the box.

Enhances – The study enhances the strength of previous studies.

Equates – The article equates the two phenomena.

Establishes – The study establishes a connection between the two concepts.

Evaluates – The professor evaluates the students’ papers.

Evokes – The article evokes a feeling of frustration.

Exaggerates – The article exaggerates its findings.

Examines – The study examines the points in more depth than ever before.

Exemplifies – The student exemplifies their knowledge of the material.

Exhibits – The author exhibits a depth of knowledge around the topic.

Exonerates – The new evidence exonerates the accused.

Expands – The theory expands previous knowledge on the topic.

Exposes – The article exposes previously unknown information.

Extends – The research extends our understanding of the phenomenon.

Extrapolates – The scientist extrapolates from past trends to make predictions.

Facilitates – The author facilitates knowledge transfer through detailed writing.

Forecasts – The study forecasts future trends.

Foreshadows – The author foreshadows that new findings will come soon.

Formulates – The study formulates a hypothesis.

Frames – The article frames the issue in a new light.

Furnishes – The study furnishes evidence to support its claims.

Gauges – The scholar gauges people’s reactions through a new blog post on the topic.

Generates – The scholar generates a new theory by bringing together a range of different ideas.

Highlights – The article highlights the importance of the issues.

Hints – The article hints that there may be a link between the data.

Hypothesizes – The researcher hypothesizes that there is a link between two concepts.

Illustrates – The author illustrates their point with an example.

Imagines – The author imagines a future where their findings will change the world.

Imparts – The teacher imparts knowledge to her students.

Implies – The study implies that there is a link between the two concepts.

Incorporates – The author incorporates three new ideas in their new book.

Indicates – The study indicates that there is a link between the two concepts.

Infers – The reader infers from the data that there is a link between the two concepts.

Insinuates – The article insinuates that there is a problem with previous studies.

Integrates – The author integrates three ideas into one thesis very well.

Interprets – The author interprets previous studies in the wrong way.

Invents – The author invents a new way to look at the issue.

Investigates – The scholar investigates the issue.

Isolates – The study isolates a group of people to focus on.

Justifies – The study justifies its cost by pointing to the revolutionary findings.

Lambasts – The article lambasts the previous scholars’ inaction on the topic.

Lauds – The article lauds the efforts of the university to improve its work.

Legitimizes – The author legitimizes previous studies.

Limits – The study limits its focus to a specific group of people.

Magnifies – The article magnifies the effects of climate change.

Maintains – The author maintains that this is a worthwhile argument despite some critique.

Manipulates – The author manipulates the data in the study to meet their biases.

Misses the Point – The article misses the point of the issue.

Negates – The study negates the hypothesis that there is a link between social media and depression.

Neglects – The article neglects to mention the other side of the issue.

Obscures – The author obscures the fact that they don’t have much evidence to support their claims.

Omits – The article omits vital information about the issue.

Optimizes – The author optimizes their argument by structuring their paragraphs well.

Overlooks – The article overlooks the fact that there are other ways to look at the issue.

Draws Parallels – The article draws parallels between two previously unlinked concepts.

Particularizes – The article particularizes the issue.

Perpetuates – The article perpetuates false narratives.

Personifies – The article personifies the issue well.

Persuades – The article persuades the reader to take action.

Pivots – The author pivots from talking about the effects of the issue to talking about what we can do to solve it.

Points Out – The article points out that climate change is a global problem.

Predicts – The article predicts that the problem will get worse.

Prejudices – The study prejudices the results by only looking at one group of people.

Presupposes – The article presupposes that the reader knows a lot about the issue.

Probes – The author probes the issue with new questions.

Problematizes – The article problematizes the issue.

Promotes – The article promotes the idea that we need to take action.

Proposes – The article proposes a new way to look at the issue.

Proves – The article proves that the issue is real and happening.

Provokes – The article provokes the reader to think about the issue more deeply.

Queries – The article queries the validity of the issue.

Rationalizes – The company rationalizes its actions.

Recapitulates – The article recapitulates the main points of the issue but doesn’t add new data.

Refutes – The article refutes previous claims.

Reinforces – The article reinforces the idea that the issue is a big problem.

Reiterates – The article reiterates the main points on the issue.

Reveals – The study reveals that there is a link between two concepts.

Ridicules – The article ridicules the other scholar’s ideas.

Sensationalizes – The article sensationalizes the findings from their dataset to gain attention.

Simplifies – The article simplifies the issue too much.

Speculates – The article speculates on the future of the issue.

Strengthens – The article strengthens the reader’s understanding of the issue.

Substantiates – The article substantiates the idea that the issue is serious.

Supports – The article supports previous studies.

Underlines – The article underlines the importance of taking action on this issue.

Undermines – The article undermines the reader’s trust in previous research.

Unifies – The article unifies the different perspectives on the issue.

Urges – The article urges the reader to take action on the issue.

Validates – The study validates the link between the two concepts.

Verifies – The article verifies the claims made in the previous study.

Vilifies – The article vilifies its opponents.

Warns – The article warns that the effects will only get worse over time.

Weakens – The article weakens the reader’s understanding of the issue.

Withstands – The article withstands scrutiny.

Not all of the above analysis verbs will be perfect for every situation, but one of them will be perfect for you! Select a range of verbs for analysis when writing a critical review. Similarly, for people seeking analysis verbs for learning outcomes, try to select ones that perfectly capture what you want to see from your students.


Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.

  • Chris Drew (PhD) 25 Creative Thinking Examples
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