Tips for More Effective Technical Writing

Tip #2 WEAK VERBS

Basic Guidelines:
The verb is another most important part of any sentence in addition to the subject of the sentence. Consequently, verbs should be full of “flavor”. Generally, verbs such as the be-verb, do, have, give, take, and make are rather weak verbs when used alone, and should be avoided whenever possible.

The function of membrane proteins
subject
is
verb
different from the function of chaperone proteins.
complement
The function of membrane proteins
subject
differs from
verb
the function of chaperone proteins.
complement
OR
The function of membrane proteins differs from that of chaperone proteins.
(see "12 Comparisons")

1. ORIGINAL
In the field of geoscience, it was reported that the number of bases and the parameters of each function were successfully estimated from the reflectance spectra of gallium (Suzuki et al., 2011).
1. REVISED
Geoscience reports state that the number of bases and the parameters of each function were successfully estimated from the reflectance spectra of gallium (Suzuki et al., 2011).

2. ORIGINAL
According to a survey by the Thai government, it was discovered that 63% of the people are satisfied with their government's recent environ- mental policies.
2. REVISED
A Thai government survey proved (revealed) that 63% of the people are satisfied with their government's recent environmental policies.
(see "05/06 Conciseness")

3. ORIGINAL
I hope that the program will enrich my experience and give the necessary support to make my dream come true.
3. REVISED
I hope that the program will enrich my experience and provide the necessary support to make my dream come true.

4. ORIGINAL
Spatiotemporal illumination shown in this protocol gives (brings) us information on larval motor circuits.
4. REVISED
Spatiotemporal illumination shown in this protocol provides information on larval motor circuits.

5. ORIGINAL
The focus of the research is on the development of urban structures and concepts during the second half of the 20th century.
5. REVISED
This research focuses on the development of urban structures and concepts during the second half of the 20th century.
This research focuses on the development of urban structures and concepts from the 1950s to 2000.
The development of urban structures and concepts from the 1950s to 2000 provides the focus of this research

6. ORIGINAL
Developing countries are behind developed countries in their ability to respond to diseases.
6. REVISED
Developing countries lag behind developed countries in their ability to respond to diseases.

7. ORIGINAL
The JICA report gets local features.
(avoid "get" in formal writing).
7. REVISED
The JICA report takes local features into consideration.
The JICA report considers (covers) local features.

8. ORIGINAL
We got the results that we had expected.
(avoid "get" in formal writing)
8. REVISED
We obtained the expected results.
(see "05/06 Conciseness")

9. ORIGINAL
This system gets to know the flying target direction from the pilot signal incident angle.
(avoid "get" in formal writing)
9. REVISED
This system recognizes the flying target direction from the pilot signal incident angle.

10. ORIGINAL
The UNEP project made the Bangladesh government greatly interested in conservation.
10. REVISED
The UNEP project greatly excited the Bangladesh government's interest in conservation.
The UNEP project greatly aroused the Bangladesh government's interest in conservation.
The UNEP project greatly accelerated the Bangladesh government's interest in conservation.

11. ORIGINAL
The filtering technique involves separation of signals of different frequencies.
11. REVISED
Filtering separates signals of different frequencies.
Signals of different frequencies are separated by filtering techniques.

(passive style)

12. ORIGINAL
This ion cloud is responsible for the corona effects.
12. REVISED
This ion cloud causes the corona effects.

13. ORIGINAL
This example is three metals in the animal's teeth; red circles indicate metal fillings.
13. REVISED
This example shows three metals in the animal's teeth; red circles indicate metal fillings.

14. ORIGINAL
Such animals and plants whose numbers have dwindled are at a risk of extinction are called rare species.
14. REVISED
Such animals and plants whose numbers have dwindled risk extinction; hence, they are called rare species.

15. ORIGINAL
However, the data-logger of L1004 could not be retrieved due to rough weather, which did not let us search for the logger.
15. REVISED
However, the L1004 data-logger was irretrievable due to rough weather, which prevented us from searching for the logger.
(see "05 Conciseness" & "07 Negatives")

16. ORIGINAL
Our goal is to find out what causes the change in temperature.
(avoid idioms in formal writing)
16. REVISED
Our goal is to determine what causes the change in temperature.
Our goal is determining what causes the change in temperature.

(see "04 Infinitives")

17. ORIGINAL
Numerous issues make broad implementation difficult.
17. REVISED
Numerous issues impede broad implementation.
Numerous issues hinder broad implementation.

18. ORIGINAL
This long distance makes a long delay in the data transmission.
18. REVISED
This long distance causes a long delay in the data transmission.

19. ORIGINAL
By using elastic silicon tubing, you do not need to wash the pump after use.
19. REVISED
Using elastic silicon tubing eliminates any need to wash the pump after use.
(simpler grammar, avoids using negative "of", avoids needless personalization "you", and uses a stronger verb)

20. ORIGINAL
We succeeded in getting the results that we desired because we used a heterogeneous catalyst. (15)
20. REVISED
Using a heterogeneous catalyst enabled us to achieve our desired results. (11)

Using a heterogeneous catalyst produced our desired results. (8)
(see "01 Strong Subjects" and "05/06 Conciseness")

100 Good Verbs to Consider

Suggested writing sequence

  1. Write your Method and Results sections first because these sections require writing about more factual information.
  2. Write your Discussion afterwards because in this section you must deal more with non-factual statements such as interpretations, significance, and others.
  3. Write your Introduction last.
describing your METHOD
adapt
add
adjust
adopt
allow
apply
arrange
assemble
assess
assume
attach
avoid
calculate
carry out
characterize
collect
combine
complete
compute
consolidate
construct
control
convert
create
decrease
derive
design
determine
differentiate
discard
distinguish
distribute
divide
eliminate
employ
enable
ensure
estimate
exceed
exclude
expect
expose
extract
filter
formulate
generate
identify
immerse
include
incorporate
increase
inhibit
insert
install
invert
isolate
limit
locate
maintain
maximize
measure
minimize
modify
normalize
obtain
operate
optimize
position
prepare
prevent
protect
provide
qualify
quantify
record
reduce
regulate
remove
repeat
restrict
retain
sample
score
select
separate
show
simulate
solicit
stabilize
subject to
substitute
suggest
summarize
test
track
transfer
treat
utilize
validate
vary

describing your RESULTS
accompany
account for
achieve
affect
anticipate
appear
arise from
arrange
ascribe to
assess
associate with
assume
attain
attribute to
bring about
calculate
carry out
cause
characterize
connect to
consist of
constrain
construe
contradict
contribute to
correlate
correspond to
create
define
derive from
determine
develop
discover
displace
double
elicit
emerge from
encompass
enlarge
evaluate
exceed
exclude
expand
expect
extend
factor in
factor out
find
generate
handle
happen
implement
imply
impose
include
indicate
infer
influence
initiate
intervene
lengthen
limit
link
model
note
notice
observe
obtain
occur
originate in
outperform
peak
preclude
present
produce
reanalyze
recognize
relate to
require
restrict
result from
reveal
seem
shorten
shrink
signal
simulate
stress
suggest
summarize
suppose
suppress
surround
tend to
trigger
triple (treble)
try
underperform
view
yield

describing your DISCUSSION
achieve
adapt
affect
allude to
ameliorate
apply
argue
ascertain
associate with
attain
augment
broaden
challenge
clarify
collaborate
compare
compel
concede
conclude
consider
consolidate
contain
contradicts
contribute
corresponds to
corroborate
decrease
deduce
demonstrate
depend on
derive
describe
determine
differ from
discover
distinguish
document
eliminate
enlarge
establish
examine
expand
explain
extend
extrapolate
find
focus on
illustrate
improve
include
increase
indicate
induce
infer
influence
integrate
interfere with
judge
justify
lend support to
mirror
modify
note
predict
present
prevent
produce
proliferate
prove
provide
recognize
recreate
reduce
refute
regard
remain
represent
require
reveal
scrutinize
shed light on
show
solve
solve
speculate
substantiate
succeed in
support
surmise
suspect
test
transfer
utilize
validate
verify

describing your INTRODUCTION
achieve
address
adopt
analyze
apply
argue
assess
assume
attempt
attest
calculate
categorize
choose
claim
classify
collect
comp
compile
comprise
concentrate on
conclude
conduct
confirm
consider
construct
convince
correlate
deal with
define
demonstrate
describe
design
detect
determine
develop
discover
discuss
elicit
elucidate
enhance
establish
estimate
evaluate
evaluate
examine
explain
explore
extend
find
focus on
formulate
generate
identify
illustrate
implement
imply
impose
improve
incorporate
indicate
influence
interpret
introduce
investigate
justify
measure
monitor
note
observe
obtain
overcome
perform
point out
predict
prefer
present
produce
propose
prove
provide
realize
recognize
recommend
record
reveal
review
revise
show
simulate
solve
state
study
substantiate
suggest
support
tend to
test
undertake
use
utilize
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