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Impressive Verbs to use in your Research Paper

By Archana Choudhary, MSc, Aerospace Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Let us look at the general process to write a successful paper. You have done the research, agreed that you are going to write a paper to tell your findings, and planned your manuscript . That sounds like the correct process, but doesn’t exactly sound right. Let us try again. You have performed the research, decided to publish a paper to report your findings, and structured your manuscript. Both sentences convey the same meaning, but the second one clearly does so more effectively. Why? The secret to a great article is not only the pioneering concepts you report and the way you structure them. As shown in the simple example above, the language you utilise in your paper is a significant factor in how impactful your paper is. Needless to say, the language must be formal and academic, and the terminology must be appropriate for your field of study. However, for a paper to be truly outstanding, it is essential that the points are articulated intelligently and succinctly. A vital tool for this is the effective use of verbs. Research papers often involve the description of processes and methodologies, which makes it even more important for the specific action word to be used. This article provides recommendations on how you can select suitable verbs for your writing project. First, let us briefly review what verbs are. A verb is one of the most important parts of a sentence, and indicates an action, or a state of being. The boldfaced words in the previous sentence are verbs. More often than not, it is impossible for a sentence to be constructed without a verb. Moreover, there are many kinds of verbs, such as action verbs (that express specific actions), auxiliary verbs (helping verbs that show a verb’s tense or if the verb is positive or negative), and modal verbs (auxiliary verbs that express abilities).

The following section lists certain verbs that are useful in academic writing, especially, in research papers. It also includes easy tips you can employ while selecting your verbs.

Tip 1: Phrasal verbs It is human nature to write the way we think or speak of a certain thing. These constitute phrasal verbs, such as “find out”, “break down,” “put up,” or “warm up.” Substitute them with more formal counterparts, such as “discover”, “disintegrate,” “assemble,” and “heat.” Tip 2: Extraordinarily remarkable versus impressive The aim is to use formal words. However, the meaning should not be overpowered by complicated words. Use powerful, but clear words. Tip 3: Adverbs Although not verbs, the adverbs you select also decide how effective your verbs are. Avoid the use of “very” or “quickly”. Use formal substitutes like “substantially” or “rapidly”. Tip 4: Reporting verbs In academic writing, it is important to use the correct tone. Often, we want to report a finding strongly, while other times, adopting a tentative or neutral tone is better. In such cases, carefully select the reporting verb based on your intention. Some examples are: tentative (hypothesise, imply, suggest), neutral (note, interpret, discuss, reflect, observe), strong (establish, disregard, highlight, recommend). Tip 5: Don’t Do not use contractions Avoid the use of contractions such as “isn’t,” “won’t,” or, as striked in the subheading, “don’t.” This makes your language look informal. Use expanded forms, such as “is not”, “will not,” or “do not.”

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Using Active Verbs to Summarize Achievements and Describe Phenomena


Good writers seem almost to compose by faith and intuition, confident that their instincts rather than their knowledge of grammar will guide them towards the best diction and syntax. When we write well, we learn to “feel” our way through an essay rather than pull up a rote system of rules and regulations to guide us.

That said, many find it helpful to turn to lists when they write, either because they find the word they’re looking for on the list or because the act inspires them to think in relation to a class of words they’re looking for. In fact, as writers become more specialized within a field, they turn again and again to mental or physical word lists to write effectively. Read a good weather forecast and you’ll find the weather patterns described with such active verbs as “hammered,” “trounced,” “sliced,” and “eased.” Read a good sportscast and you’ll find gleeful discussions of how a losing team was “throttled,” “bashed,” “whipped,” or “humiliated.”

Active verbs in particular are useful tools for writers of personal essays, because they help you to (1) efficiently summarize your achievements, and (2) describe relevant phenomena, which may be in the form of research that you’ve completed. Below is a list of commonly used active verbs in these two categories, organized randomly to emphasize that these lists are not to be used in the way that many blindly use a thesaurus—as though one verb can be swapped for another. In fact, in assembling these lists I chose verbs that are unlike each other in meaning, to emphasize that writers should always be aware of both the denotations and connotations of their chosen words. Consider both the meaning and usage of any active verbs you choose to be certain that your writing has maximum muscle. When unsure of a verb’s usage and meaning, always look it up in a well-thumbed dictionary.

For more websites about how to use active verbs effectively, take a virtual trip here:

“Writing Tips: Choose Active, Precise Verbs,” from Rice University

"Bloom's Taxonomy Action Verbs," from Fresno State University

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Strong Action Verbs

Use this list of strong action verbs to diversify, strengthen, and individualize your résumé language.

The list is organized in sections to help you locate the best words:  Accomplishment , Creative , Communication , Helping , Instructional , Leadership , Organization/Detail , Research , Technical .

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Review Résumé Writing  to explore content development ideas and view our résumé checklist.

Need additional help? Schedule an appointment with your Career Engagement Coordinator on Handshake  or email us at [email protected] .

essay action verbs

Action - Important . Part of Essays

  • Admission Essays
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How to Add Action to Essays


Imagine a movie without action. Imagine a story without any action. What a boring movie or story it would be! Action is an important part of any type of custom academic writing and researching. Action words are an important part of writing an essay or term paper. Often a few changes in wording can lead to more action in the essay. Often changing nouns and verbs make a complete difference in a term paper. When it comes to using action in essays, it is important to remember that action is shown more when the subject performs the action. Often students fail to understand the principles behind action.

Consider writing an anecdote using passive verbs. Look at this example:

The little girl had begun to play her violin.

She had to think about the words and the tone was beginning to get on my nerves. Obviously, she was not ready for an audience.

This anecdote is written in the passive voice. Take a look at the difference when using action verbs. The little girl played her violin. She seemed to think about the words and the tone dragged between chords causing the noise to hurt people's ears. She definitely was not ready for an audience. A few simple changes in words make a difference in any anecdote. While most term papers are persuasive and informative, it is still important to use action words. Look at this example:

One out of five women are hit or their husbands may use verbal words to hurt their feelings.

While there is nothing wrong with the way this is written, it could be changed to add more action to the sentences. One out of five women are abused by their husbands either from physical abuse or verbal abuse. These sentences add more action and catch the attention of the reader. Both examples are correct, but one has more action. Changing words to add action is important when it comes to custom term paper and essay writing .

A problem many students have is using passive voice. It is important to think about what is being stated and how more action can be added or changed to show what is happening instead of telling it. Often the mistake is made by letting the subject receive the action and not doing the action. Look at these two examples:

The ball was thrown to the little girl. The little girl threw the ball.

The first sentence is written in the passive voice with the girl receiving the action. The second sentence has the girl performing the action. The main point to remember is the subject does the action in the active voice. The subject receives the action in the passive voice.

Often when a student writes in the passive voice the subject of the action is forgotten. Often prepositional phrases are used to show who did the action. Look at the example:

The ball was caught by the little girl.

The passive voice makes the main object the ball instead of the girl. Look at this example of the action verb:

The girl caught the ball.

In this example the girl is the subject doing the action. Remember the subject does the action in active voice and the subject receives the action in the passive voice in every essay or term paper.

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