Verb List Study Guide

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Updated on Sep 20, 2011

Verb List

This study guide brings you new and versatile (useful in many ways) verbs to strengthen your word power so your communications become more effective.

Without verbs, nothing would happen. Verbs are the engines of communication, describing the action taking place or the relationship between two people or things. And verbs also tell a reader or listener the time of the action: present, past, or future.

Verbs are such an essential part of communication that sometimes a verb can stand alone to communicate a whole idea:

Stop. Go. Smile. Hurry.

Even in one-word answers, the verb is understood although not spoken:

  • Have I made myself clear?
    • Yes. [Understood, not spoken: You have made yourself clear.]
  • When are you arriving?
    • Tomorrow. [Understood, not spoken: I will arrive tomorrow.]

What do Verbs do?

The primary function of a verb is to describe a state of being (is, are, and so on) or an action taken by the subject (the main noun) in the sentence:

  • Janet is my sister. (state of being)
  • Janet eats some chocolate every single day. (action taken by subject)

As the powerhouse of every sentence, verbs are extremely important. With the right, strong, precise verb, your sentences can be very forceful and create a strong impression.

  • Janet eats some chocolate every single day.
  • Janet snacks on some chocolate every single day.
  • Janet devours some chocolate every single day. (devour means to eat quickly, with great hunger)

The basic fact in these three sentences is the same, but the information and emotion communicated changes dramatically with the simple change of the verb. Do you think the word devour carries a positive or a negative connotation? Does the writer approve of Janet's chocolate obsession? You probably can't answer these questions without more context in additional sentences; the word devour could be an implied criticism or just an amusing way to describe Janet's chocolate habit.

What you can definitely be sure of is that having a broad vocabulary gives you the word power to choose strong, colorful, and precise verbs to convey the exact connotation you seek.

Some Versatile Verbs For You to Learn

This lesson provides 12 very useful verbs to add to your vocabulary, along with short definitions and sample sentences that illustrate their meanings.

Read the list slowly and carefully to make sure you understand the words. If you can, think of a mnemonic to help you remember each word's meaning, or think quickly of a sentence using the word.

  1. allocate. To set aside for a specific purpose. The teacher allocated 15 minutes each day to a review of new vocabulary words.
  2. attain. To accomplish or achieve. Students who want to attain high marks must allocate time every evening to undisturbed study.
  3. augment. To increase or add to. Readers seeking to augment their vocabulary will enjoy reading this book.
  4. cease. To stop. The students' laughter ceased as soon as the tests were handed back.
  5. compensate. To pay; to make up for something. 1. The teacher is compensated for her hard work with a yearly salary. 2. Many students tried to compensate for their lack of hard work by charming the teacher with smiles and jokes.
  6. compile. To put together from various sources. The class compiled its new vocabulary list from several of the stories read in class.
  7. deduce. To reach a conclusion using facts. The teacher was able to deduce which students had studied and which hadn't by the vocabulary test results.
  8. derive. To receive or understand something from something or somewhere else. Many words in English are derived from roots that originated in Latin or Greek.
  9. interpret. To explain; to translate from one form into another. The teacher interpreted the students' smiles to mean that they either enjoyed the lesson or were glad it was over!
  10. perceive. To see or understand something that's difficult to understand. The serious students perceived the need to study hard; the others didn't.
  11. prioritize. To organize or handle in order of importance. I prioritized my homework based on which assignments were due sooner than others.
  12. utilize. To make use of. The teacher encouraged students to utilize their dictionaries to learn the accurate meanings of words.

Some Helpful Mnemonics

It's often easy to remember a word's meaning by creating a mnemonic for it. Here are a few that may help you with this lesson's verbs:

  • Allocate: to assign ALL to a new place
  • Deduce: to DEDUCT or subtract one idea from another
  • Compile: to make a PILE of things
  • Perceive: to SEE something is to per-SEEVE it
  • Utilize: to USE something USEFUL

Can you invent some others?

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Verb List Practice Exercises

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