When you conduct a research project, one part of your job is to assert your own original thesis with an effective argument. There are a few ways to enhance your research paper so it sounds more impressive. One method to sound convincing as an authority is to elevate your vocabulary by using great verbs.

Remember, verbs are action words. The verbs you select for your writing should represent a specific action.

This means you should avoid generic verbs like the following to keep your writing interesting and sharp. Don’t bore your teacher or audience to tears!

Stale and boring verbs:

  • See
  • Is/was
  • Looked
  • Did
  • Go/went
  • Said
  • Turned


No matter what your grade level, you must do your best to come across as an authority on your topic. Think about the noticeable difference in these statements:

  • I saw more mold on one piece of bread.
  • I observed a distinct difference between the two pieces of bread. Most importantly, one piece of bread displayed a greater density of mold.

The second statement sounds more mature, because we replaced “saw” with “observed” and “had” with “displayed.” In fact, the verb observe is more accurate. When carrying out a scientific experiment, after all, you use more than mere eye sight to scrutinize your results. You may smell, hear, or feel some results, and those are all part of observing.

Now consider these statements when writing a history essay:

  • Historian Robert Dulvany says there were three main causes for the war.
  • Historian Robert Dulvany asserted that three events prompted the war.

The second phrase just sounds more authoritative and direct. The verbs make all the difference!

Also, make sure to use active rather than passive structure with your verbs.Active verbs makes your writing clearer and engaging.

Review these statements:

  • The war on terror was launched by the United States.
  • The United States launched the war on terror.

The subject-verb construction is a more active and powerful statement.


Each discipline (like history, science or literature) has a distinct tone with certain verbs that appear frequently. As you read over your sources, observe the tone and language.

While reviewing the first draft of your research paper, conduct an inventory of your verbs. Are they tired and weak or strong and effective? This list of verbs may provide suggestions to make your research paper sound more authoritative.


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