The Power of Verbs

Summarising, rather than analysing, is one of the chief pitfalls of Leaving Certificate students. Overused signal verbs such as says and relates, fail to inject the kind of interpretive power that other, purposefully selected verbs can. Let verbs carry the tone of your message; leave out the amateurish adjectives and adverbs.

Here are some alternative signal verbs to consider:

  • suggests
  • hints
  • intimates
  • implies
  • questions
  • sheds light
  • clarifies
  • masks
  • notes
  • observes
  • asserts
  • concedes
  • qualifies
  • affirms
  • criticises
  • admonishes
  • challenges
  • debates
  • berates
  • trivialises
  • denigrates
  • vilifies
  • demonises
  • disparages
  • ridicules
  • mocks
  • points out
  • acknowledges
  • minimises
  • dismisses
  • demonstrates
  • underscores
  • flatters
  • praises
  • exaggerates
  • exposes
  • articulates
  • explores
  • establishes
  • evokes
  • induces

Here are some verbs to describe the structure of a text:

  • opens
  • begins
  • adds
  • connects
  • juxtaposes
  • draws a parallel between
  • foreshadows
  • uses an analogy
  • turns to
  • shifts to
  • transitions to
  • concludes
  • finishes
  • closes
  • ends

And now some verbs to describe various rhetorical modes:

  • compares
  • contrasts
  • classifies
  • defines
  • narrates
  • describes
  • argues
  • persuades
  • explains
  • defines
  • exemplifies
  • illustrates
  • summarises

6A1 Competition Time!

Post a comment below using any of the above verbs (correctly!) and relating to any aspect of our LC course and there will be a prize for you on Monday 9th January 2012.


4 thoughts on “The Power of Verbs”

  1. Kate Mundy in ‘Dancing at Lughnasa argues with her sisters about going to the festival of lughnasa, all the Mundy sisters are extremely determined to attened – Maggie “points out” that she is a 35 year old woman and she wants to dance. Kate “exaggerates” her feeling towards the dance and “illustrates” the image she has of what will happen to her social standing if they do attend. Just when Kate is about to be convinced, Rose “demonstrates” a dance to marconi by saying she wants to attend the dance too and begins to make a complete fool out of herself as she is the simple one. The five Mundy sisters plead with Kate but in the end there is little that persuades her. This scene “exemplifies” that Kate holds great power over her sisters as she gives the orders in the Mundy household .

  2. Well done Hannah! Excellent use of the verbs listed above. I am delighted to read this contribution and the promise of a prize stands. Keep up the good work.

    Any one else willing to take up the challenge? 😉

  3. Throughout the “Dancing at Lughnasa” text I believe Kate truly exemplifies the values which the Catholic Church instilled in Ireland in the 1930s. Rose contrasts this greatly as the pagan events in the back hills induce wonder and excitement in her. Kate instantly challenges Rose for trivialising what she believes to be a very serious issue and threat to the Catholic Church.

  4. In the play ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ we come across a family who live in a small village called Ballybeg. We meet five sisters, Agnes, Kate, Maggie, Rose and Chris, as well as Chris’ illegitimate child Michael and their brother Jack. Agnes dismisses the fact that there are changes happening all around her. Maggie also minimises the fact that change is occuring. She mocks everything with her light hearted sense of humour. Fr. Jack challenges Kate’s patience when he suggests he has new beliefs. Kate criticises these new beliefs and observes that they are not Christian beliefs. Chris doesn’t seem threatened by the changing world. She seems to be taken over with minding her son and with her debatable relationship with Gerry Evans. Kate implies she doesn’t have any respect for Gerry but she puts up with him for her sister’s happiness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *