Business Writing Essentials

Bad Verbs

Bureaucratic verbs

When a verb phrase uses more words than it needs to use but only hints at what it really wants to say, it's acting like a bureaucrat. Here is an example:

Ann's diagram is an illustration of how to fill out the form.

This sentence speaks with force and clarity if you unleash the descriptive power of the real verb:

Ann's diagram illustrates how to fill out the form.

Conflicted verbs

When you use a generic verb that has multiple meanings you leave it up to your readers to decide which sense, or personality, of the verb is the proper one.

The policy covered new employees for major medical expenses.

The verb cover can mean conceal, clothe, insure, deal with, or report details. In your reader's mind the word cover might cause confusing associations with alternate definitions. To avoid this, substitute a lean verb that says what you really meant:

The policy insured new employees for major medical expenses.

Lesson: Bad Verbs
Module: Clarity
Course: Business Writing Essentials