Action Verbs

A sentence is made up of a subject and a verb. The verb tells what the subject is or does. An action verb describes what the subject does, did, or will do. The verb served shows action in the sentence below. It tells what Connecticut did.

Connecticut served America's first hamburger.

Sometimes a sentence has more than one verb showing action. In the sentence below, ticks and chimes are two action verbs telling what the old clock does.

The old clock ticks loudly and chimes every hour.


Identify each action verb in these sentences:

  1. We shall build new towns but preserve scenic areas.
  2. Connecticut's inventors revolutionized industry.
  3. Eli Whitney's ideas started mass production.
  4. Historians write about former dictators.
  5. The people overthrew the dictator and declared their country a republic.
  6. The swiftest greyhounds race at more than sixty miles per hour.
  7. A cheetah strikes its prey with its paw.
  8. The Preamble proclaims the purpose of the Constitution.


  1. The verbs build and preserve tell what "we" shall do.
  2. Revolutionized tells what "inventors" did.
  3. Started tells what "ideas" did.
  4. Write tells what "historians" do. 
  5. Overthrew and declared tell what "the people" did.
  6. Race tells what "greyhounds" do.
  7. Strikes tells what "a cheetah" does.
  8. Proclaims tells what "the Preamble" does. 

Improving Our Writing

Using descriptive and precise verbs can make our writing more vivid or colorful. Consider the following example:

The parrot talked loudly.
Perhaps the parrot screeched loudly,
or maybe it squawked loudly.

The verbs screeched and squawked may be more interesting and descriptive. We try to choose words with the most accurate meaning.

The squirrel went up the tree.
The squirrel scurried up the tree.

We notice that scurried gives a clearer picture of how the squirrel went up the tree. Scampered, dashed, and rushed are also descriptive. We select the verb with the most precise meaning.


In the sentences below, replace each verb with one that might be more precise or descriptive. Consider the various possibilities.

  1. Nate went to school.
  2. The panther goes after its prey.
  3. A dictator talks tirelessly.


1. Our answers will vary. We do not know how Nate went to school, but here are some possibilities:

Nate rode to school.
Nate ran to school.
Nate sauntered to school,
or Nate may have hurriedjogged, or dashed to school.

When we write, we use the verb with the most precise meaning.

2. Answers will vary.

The panther sprints after its prey.
The panther races after its prey.
The panther leaps after its prey.

3. Answers will vary.

A dictator murmurs tirelessly.
A dictator argues tirelessly.
A dictator pontificates tirelessly.