What are powerful verbs? Powerful verbs are simply verbs which are more descriptive and accurate and impactful than other words.

The best way of explaining this is to show a simple sentence like this:

  • The old man told the young lad to get down from the table.

The verb told is not very engaging and there are lots of other more powerful verbs the writer could have used to bring that sentence to life for example:

  • The old man screamed at the young man to get down from the table.
  • The old man pleaded with the young man to get down from the table.

Both these sentences have been brought to life by the use of more powerful verbs.

How to help children use more powerful verbs?

Teachers should have posters of powerful verbs up in the classroom and should be helping their children to understand that they should be using varied and interesting vocabulary to bring their writing to life and this includes powerful verbs.

One way of helping children is to get them to re-write stories and try to use better vocabulary and more powerful verbs throughout. As they re-write their work gradually their standard will improve so that they naturally write using more complex words.

Using more powerful verbs should be part of learning to use a wide vocabulary

Children will gradually understand that they need to use more powerful verbs than ‘said’ or ‘walked’ or ‘looked’ in the same way that they learn that they should use more descriptive words than ‘nice’ or ‘bad’ or ‘great’.

Building a wide vocabulary does take time and changing writing habits to include the use of more complex vocabulary takes a consistent effort. Often children will use descriptions banks to help them develop their use of a wider vocabulary and powerful verbs.

How does Learning Street help children to develop their use of powerful verbs?

To start with, developing and using a wide vocabulary is central to all the work we do with children from 7 through to 11 +.  We encourage children to develop an outstanding working vocabulary and help them to keep this at the front of their minds and in use.

We emphasise good writing habits throughout our courses and encourage children to develop a wide range of descriptions banks that really help to bring their writing to life.  Inevitably this means developing use of their broad vocabulary in their writing including the use of powerful verbs.

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