10 Overly Used and Boring Verbs, and How You Can Replace Them

Alex Johnson
May 29, 2020 ·
6 min read
Grammar

Some verbs just get too much airtime. You know the ones: verbs such as ‘get’ and ‘have’ that, in the English language at least, seem to represent anything and everything. 

If you are looking for ways to polish your writing – simultaneously being able to make your words more interesting but being clearer and more articulate – then substituting a few well-known verbs for alternatives can be an effective approach to make.

Here are 10 verbs that can easily be replaced by something a little bit more descriptive to give your writing an added depth and quality of communication.

1) get

‘Get’ is one of those verbs in English that can seemingly represent anything. While in terms of spoken English that can be a fantastic flexibility, in written English is just seems a little bland.

That’s not to say that there are times when ‘get’ is perfectly acceptable to use in written English, but why not try and replace it with some of these options, depending on the context:

organize, purchase, avail, requisition, become

2) have

For ‘get’, read ‘have’. Stunningly flexible, but at the same time massively over-used. Be careful with context, but here are some nice alternatives:

possess, experience, enjoy, own, manage

 3) say and tell

In creative writing, it is a good idea to avail of words known as ‘reporting verbs’. These verbs, for example ‘say’ or ‘tell’, are simply verbs that we used to report the words of others. However, unlike ‘say’ and ‘tell’, there are reporting verbs that can also articulate much more about the tone of voice and the feeling of the speaker. These options are therefore much more descriptive by far: 

shout, yell, whisper, schmooze, prattle, garble

4) walk

Likewise, ‘walk’ is a very literal word, so doesn’t give you much detail about how the movement was achieved. These words can visually stir up something much more interesting and closer to the way the movement was performed:

skip, gallop, stroll, wander, stride, amble, saunter

5) eat

‘Eat’ is a very methodical word. We all ‘eat’, but that doesn’t really do justice to the way some people perform this action. Some consume their food delicately, while others are like a hungry wolf. In short, get more descriptive about this otherwise boring action with some of these alternatives:

gobble down, chomp, gulp, crunch, devour 

6) look

Continuing on the theme of mechanical verbs that don’t communicate much at all other than the literal action, look is as boring as it gets. When someone looks at you, they do it in any number of ways: think about the first time you looked into the eyes of that special someone. Look? It just doesn’t do it justice, does it? Here are some alternatives:

Peer, gaze, gawp, stare, inspect, consider

7) win

Winning can be achieved in so many different ways, and the margin of the victory can be incredibly close, or not. That’s why win really doesn’t cover the actual manner of the victory. Here are some other words that can do that:

Conquer, destroy, upset, overwhelm, overcome

8) think

Think is a really generic verb that doesn’t capture the essence of how something can fill your mind for large parts of the day, or simply be something that stays and goes quicker than you sometimes even realize. These words are much better:

Ponder, struggle, wonder, consider, dwell

9) make

‘Make’ is well-known in English for being a verb that represents the creation or invention of something, and therefore becomes a catch-all. Reverting back to the original verbs is much more descriptive, so try to remember these:

design, create, engineer, invent, devise

10) do

‘Do’ is a word that has actually becoming the very representation of a generic verb. In English, it is actually used as a replacement for other verbs when the verb is obvious in context. Here’s an example:

‘Have you created a password yet?

‘I’ll do it later.”

Of course, there is a time and a place for using ‘do’ and avoiding unnecessary repetition, but in order to create more interesting written text, think about what the word ‘do’ actually signifies. Here are some examples:

complete, participate, involve, attend, engage

The Linguix writing tool instantly gives you a list of synonyms that you can choose from to make your written English that much more engaging. It’s just one of the many benefits that Linguix provides!

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