Verbs really are amazing creatures. They can ‘spice’ up a sentence and add fabulous detail to any story.One of the things we teach students to do when writing is to ‘upgrade’ their verbs; funnily enough, so many of them have watched the TV series called, “Pimp My Ride” that they have coined the phrase, “Pimp My Verb” which to the older generation, may sound a little dodgy, but we are assured by the young folk, that it is a perfectly legitimate turn of phrase!
So what do we mean by “Pimp My Verb”?
Well, verbs have the best potential out of all grammatical devices to increase detail and specificity within a sentence.
Imagine the sentence – “The man went to the bus stop.” In this case, the verb ‘went’ tells us nothing about how or why the man was heading to the bus stop. ‘Went’ is a common, watered-down, general word that has many many meanings, so this makes it difficult for us to know what is actually meant by the word ‘went’.However, just imagine if the sentence was written like this, “The man hobbled to the bus stop.” Here the verb ‘hobbled’ tells us something very specific about the actions of the man. We begin assembling a ‘back story’ about this man.
Maybe he hurt his leg and couldn't drive so he had to catch a bus?
Maybe he was running to catch the bus because he was late for work and fell, hence the hobble?
Maybe his shoe broke on the uneven footpath and he was unable to steady his gait?
By the mere use of the verb “hobbled” we can conjure up a whole host of possibilities, and the one that is most accurate will emerge as the story progresses.
“The man hobbled to the bus stop. He had sprained his leg playing Hockey last week and it was too sore to drive, so he was forced to use public transport – something he was yet to get the hang of!”
So, just by having students ‘pimp’ their verbs, they can write stories with a much greater depth of mood, atmosphere and meaning.
You’ve just got to like, love, adore great verbs!