I'm not very sure if "weak" and "strong" are the right adjectives. Here's an example:

Getting on my knees, I turned to the right.

Crouching on my knees, I turned to the right.

Does the "stronger" verb crouching diminish the strength of turned? Is the first example a better option?

  • 1
    I think Crouching is a pore word choice (a crouch is knees up). What is wrong with Kneeling?
    – hildred
    Feb 13, 2015 at 4:35
  • I kneeled, turned to the right? Or perhaps, I kneeled, turned my gaze to the blood-soaked bishop stumbling through the door? (That is, why is the right important? Whatever is to the right is gonna be more interesting than the direction, though if your example is just a random sentence to host the question, ignore that :P)
    – Mac Cooper
    Feb 13, 2015 at 11:51
  • Agreed, you crouch on your haunches not your knees. Kneeling, I looked to the right.
    – CLockeWork
    Feb 13, 2015 at 16:41

1 Answer 1


Without getting into an argument about which exact verb you should use, I would suggest that it is often good practice to use a "strong" verb to support a "weaker" one.

Think for a moment what you mean by a "strong" verb. Essentially, you mean one that carries drama, action and excitement when compared to its more pedestrian alternatives. As in all things, it is a matter of getting the balance right. If you overuse powerful verbs, they lose all meaning but if you use them sparingly they convey your thoughts much more powerfully than would otherwise be the case.

Let's look at the two sample sentences you offer. My first impression upon reading the first one is that you are describing a small action. In my head, I could see the old lady at church turning to polish the brass work or something equally mundane.

In the second sentence, however, I am now expecting something more dramatic to happen. Why are you crouching rather than just going down on your knees? What has happened? What do you fear? What are you hunting? The second sentence sets an expectation of drama in a way that the first one simply does not.

So: think about what you are trying to achieve with each sentence. If all you need to do is carry the action / plot / scene forward a little, "weak" verbs will do. If you want to hint that the pace is hotting up, to fool the reader into thinking something is about to happen or to set his expectations for the drama which is to follow, use a "strong" verb to support your "weaker" verb.

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