Vigorous Verbs

Vigorous Verbs

By Donna Shepherd

Have you ever talked with a friend about what you wanted to do together? Maybe your friend responded with, “I don’t care. Whatever you want to do is fine by me.”

Another day, your friend might answer, “Let’s watch that new show about space travel. I hear the special effects amaze you!”

The first response, a passive one, might leave you feeling a bit let down, while the second reply energizes and spurs to action. Don’t you want to go watch a show about space travel after hearing that review?

You also want to use an active voice to energize your writing. In a sentence using active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action expressed in the verb. For example: Emma devoured the chocolate bar.

With passive voice, the sentence looks like this: Chocolate was eaten by Emma.

Now which sentence makes you want chocolate? Well, I have to admit — chocolate calls my name either way. But the first sentence has me headed to the candy cabinet.

If I had written, “Emma nibbled a chocolate bar,” the picture changes dramatically. Perhaps Emma doesn’t like chocolate as much as I do after all. Choosing which verb to use can be a challenge, but so much fun when you find the perfect word.

It’s important to note that passive sentences aren’t incorrect. Sometimes using “is” or “was'” is exactly right (like that one – see?). Most of the time though, more active verbs liven up your writing – and keep your reader’s attention.

One of my favorite Bible verses is Psalm 19:1: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.”

The same verse in the New Living Translation reads: “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.”

In both versions, the active verbs bring your attention to God’s creative power and the beauty of His creation.

Let’s use vivid, action verbs to paint beautiful word pictures so our readers will want to devour our writing — like Emma devoured that chocolate.

Our Author

Donna J. Shepherd’s books for children feature short, playful rhymes with humorous illustrations – and hidden pictures too. Her two popular blogs have coloring pages, hidden picture puzzles, and more of Donna’s fun poetry: Topsy Turvy Land and Oodles of Fun.

A columnist for The Dabbling Mum, NABBW, and CWAHM, Donna has hundreds of articles and devotionals to her credit. Her devotions and stories appear in Daily Grace for Women, Anytime Prayers for Everyday Moms, and The Best Grandma in the World, to name a few. From bird watching to the Beatitudes, Donna’s writing touches the heart with wisdom and humor while feeding the mind with daily portions of God’s Word.

To read her devotions, visit Devotionals by Donna.
To read devotions for kids, visit

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