Good Action Verbs For Essays

Awesome Action Verbs

When writing a thesis statement, main assertion, or analysis, only use language that both conveys the meaning of your argument and makes your argument more sophisticated. Use this list of awesome action verbs to strengthen your writing.

Use the present tense form of the AA Verb. Ex.: The author reinforces the reader's enduring sense of injustice through the cruel characterization of the protagonist.

ExpoundExpandAssumeJustifyIronizeMultiplyDenounceAccount
IlluminateReviewPerceiveLinkAddressDiagnoseAgreeCensure
ExposeProblematizeDetectManipulateContendPositionGuideConfigure
DepictDescendInformInstructIsolateSucceedMaintainPersuade
RenderInterpretContradictChallengeRespondReinforceAllegePresent
ConflictEnableExposeConcealPronounceAnalyzeCharacterizeBolster
InstigateCoachExamineProbeDetachConjectureAdaptStudy
QuestionBroadenRecallClarifyInvestigateEvaluateDistinguishEcho
ScrutinizeHighlightAmplifyDismissCraftConfirmEmphasizeIntensify
AlterAttainDisproveUnderscoreReconfigureElevateDiscussVerify
FocusRemainConflatePositDivulgeFeatureDerideNegate
ObscureCreateAccentuateShroudDiscloseDisguiseGenerateAttest
AuthorizeEnforceTriggerFashionInitiateDramatizeConceiveRationalize
FormShapeIllustrateAugmentTreatConstructTransformRepresent
IdentifyCarryConstructTransformRepresentIdentifyCarryDeconstruct
FrameExplainWitnessValidateReconstructSupportProveAttribute
EngageBuildSustainDemonstrateArrangeElaborateProduceSuggest
ExhibitEvokeCondenseInventProposeDisplayAdvanceConnect
CondemnImplyExpressDismantleDefyClaimInsinuateReveal
ArgueDivulgeHintIndicateEstablishEnableWarpObstruct
SignifyOfferExploreMisconceiveVeilDenoteExistNegotiate
GraspDisputeConnotePortrayMediateRecognizeRenounceCritique
DescribeSimulateAscribeCriticize InterrogateCauseDenounceAssign
ConsiderSituateExemplifyOrganizeShapeAccessAssertEpitomize
WorkAcceptHeightenComplicateEmbodyPrioritizeRadicalizeFail
AssociateExplicateProduceNavigateReferInsistInstructCounteract

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.

Verbs to Summarize Achievements

Verbs to Describe Phenomena

Achieved
Determined
Observed
Managed
Inspired
Checked
Empowered
Allocated
Lectured
Encouraged
Analyzed
Validated
Enforced
Provided
Measured
Engineered
Conveyed
Appraised
Denounced
Led
Diagnosed
Communicated
Computed
Translated
Mediated
Supervised
Systematized
Persuaded
Calculated
Prioritized
Navigated
Screened
Simplified
Originated
Counseled
Indexed
Integrated
Presented
Witnessed
Recorded
Demonstrated
Catalogued
Implemented
Controlled
Generated
Improved
Taught
Converted
Improvised
Pioneered
Improved
Invented
Effected
Grouped
Experimented
Judged
Defined
Modeled
Researched
Facilitated
Transcribed
Recommended
Maintained
Advised
Interviewed
Undertook
Noted
Verified
Sorted
Wrote
Founded
Tabulated
Discharged
Exchanged
Emitted
Converged
Invaded
Bonded
Deposited
Oriented
Accelerated
Interacted
Transmitted
Mixed
Quickened
Originated
Enriched
Saturated
Restored
Superimposed
Crystallized
Transferred
Halted
Behaved
Plunged
Fused
Evolved
Ascended
Bisected
Disintegrated
Mutated
Accessed
Stood
Overlapped
Competed
Forced
Led
Separated
Curbed
Collapsed
Coalesced
Isolated
Fractured
Elongated
Absorbed
Scattered
Propelled
Radiated
Bombarded
Deteriorated
Permeated
Ceased
Lagged
Circulated
Divided
Ruptured
Propelled
Disseminated
Surrounded
Constrained
Slowed
Traversed
Rotated
Fell
Cut
Penetrated
Linked
Froze
Exerted
Fought
Exuded
Guided
Inverted
Exchanged

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