Action Verbs vs. Inactive Verbs


Action verbs are verbs that show action. An action verb will demonstrate a specific action that you’re intending to convey. In the previous sentences, convey and demonstrate represent action verbs. As opposed to are, which is an inactive verb.

In general, you can expect that using action verbs will make your writing better. However, sometimes in technical writing the use of familiar verbs can make the processes feel more accessible to your audience. The use of action verbs becomes essential when you’re tasked with representing a large amount of information with few words, such as in a resume or cover letter.

How can I use action verbs?

Using action verbs is easy once you get used to writing with them. Search your document for forms of the verbs to be, to have, and to do. Notice that these kinds of verbs generally don’t generate the types of clear pictures that action verb convey. Here is a list of action verbs for your consideration:

Management/Leadership Skillsadministered, analyzed, appointed, approved, assigned, attained, authorized, chaired, considered, consolidated, contracted, controlled, converted, coordinated, decided, delegated, developed, directed, eliminated, emphasized, enforced, enhanced, established, executed, generated, handled, headed, hired, hosted, improved, incorporated, increased, initiated, inspected, instituted, led, managed, merged, motivated, organized, originated, overhauled, oversaw, planned, presided, prioritized, produced, recommended, reorganized, replaced, restored, reviewed, scheduled, streamlined, strengthened, supervised, terminated
Communication/People Skills
addressed, advertised, arbitrated, arranged, articulated, authored, clarified, collaborated, communicated, composed, condensed, conferred, consulted, contacted, conveyed, convinced, corresponded, debated, defined, described, developed, directed, discussed, drafted, edited, elicited, enlisted, explained, expressed, formulated, furnished, incorporated, influenced, interacted, interpreted, interviewed, involved, joined, judged, lectured, listened, marketed, mediated, moderated, negotiated, observed, outlined, participated, persuaded, presented, promoted, proposed, publicized, reconciled, recruited, referred, reinforced, reported, resolved, responded, solicited, specified, spoke, suggested, summarized, synthesized, translated, wrote
Research Skillsanalyzed, clarified, collected, compared, conducted, critiqued, detected, determined, diagnosed, evaluated, examined, experimented, explored, extracted, formulated, gathered, identified, inspected, interpreted, interviewed, invented, investigated, located, measured, organized, researched, searched, solved, summarized, surveyed, systematized, tested
Technical Skillsadapted, assembled, built, calculated, computed, conserved, constructed, converted, debugged, designed, determined, developed, engineered, fabricated, fortified, installed, maintained, operated, overhauled, printed, programmed, rectified, regulated, remodeled, repaired, replaced, restored, solved, specialized, standardized, studied, upgraded, utilized
Teaching Skillsadapted, advised, clarified, coached, communicated, conducted, coordinated, critiqued, developed, enabled, encouraged, evaluated, explained, facilitated, focused, guided, individualized, informed, instilled, instructed, motivated, persuaded, simulated, stimulated, taught, tested, trained, transmitted, tutored
Financial/Data Skillsadministered, adjusted, allocated, analyzed, appraised, assessed, audited, balanced, calculated, computed, conserved, corrected, determined, developed, estimated, forecasted, managed, marketed, measured, planned, programmed, projected, reconciled, reduced, researched, retrieved
Creative Skillsacted, adapted, began, combined, conceptualized, condensed, created, customized, designed, developed, directed, displayed, drew, entertained, established, fashioned, formulated, founded, illustrated, initiated, instituted, integrated, introduced, invented, modeled, modified, originated, performed, photographed, planned, revised, revitalized, shaped, solved
Helping Skillsadapted, advocated, aided, answered, arranged, assessed, assisted, clarified, coached, collaborated, contributed, cooperated, counseled, demonstrated, diagnosed, educated, encouraged, ensured, expedited, facilitated, familiarize, furthered, guided, helped, insured, intervened, motivated, provided, referred, rehabilitated, presented, resolved, simplified, supplied, supported, volunteered
Organization/Detail Skillsapproved, arranged, cataloged, categorized, charted, classified, coded, collected, compiled, corresponded, distributed, executed, filed, generated, implemented, incorporated, inspected, logged, maintained, monitored, obtained, operated, ordered, organized, prepared, processed, provided, purchased, recorded, registered, reserved, responded, reviewed, routed, scheduled, screened, submitted, supplied, standardized, systematized, updated, validated, verified
More Verbs for Accomplishmentsachieved, completed, expanded, exceeded, improved, pioneered, reduced (losses), resolved (issues), restored, spearheaded, succeeded, surpassed, transformed, won

Authors use different types of verbs in different contexts. As always, consider your purpose and audience when crafting the message you are writing.