Skip to main content

Adding Verbs with Verve and Volume to Your Writing

About This Course

Verbs drive sentences and hold them together. They are the hinge that connects actors and action, the engine that powers movement forward, the key to lean, clear, engaging prose. Understanding how verbs work, and how you use them, can help you brighten and tighten your writing, whether it is breaking news, a longer profile or a Facebook post.


Jacqui's recommended books:

  • Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, by Roy Peter Clark
  • Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English, by Roy Peter Clark
  • Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences, by Kitty Burns Florey
  • A Writer's Coach: An Editor's Guide to Grammar & Punctuation, by Jay Stevenson
  • Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose, by Constance Hale
  • Hex, Vex, Smash, and Smooch, by Constance Hale
  • The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
  • On Writing Well, by William K. Zinsser

What Will I Learn?

  • How verbs can be your most versatile and powerful writing tool
  • To identify your own patterns and habits of verb use in your writing
  • When to be active, when to be passive
  • How to use verbs to control the volume of sentences
  • How to paint visual pictures with verbsFour questions you should be asking about your audience

Who Should Take this Course?

Writers and reporters looking for ways to enrich their stories using verbs wisely.

Course Instructor

Jacqui Banaszynski

Jacqui Banaszynski

Jacqui Banaszynski is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who spent 30 years as a newspaper reporter and editor. She holds a Knight Chair professorship at the Missouri School of Journalism, is an editing fellow at the Poynter Institute and coaches student and professional journalists around the world. You can follow her on Twitter at @JacquiB.

Her series “AIDS in the Heartland” won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize in feature writing. She was a finalist for the 1986 Pulitzer in international reporting for coverage of the Ethiopian famine and won the nation’s top deadline sports reporting award for coverage of the 1988 Olympics. She has edited several award-winning projects, from narratives to investigative packages.

Frequently Asked Questions

What web browser should I use?

The Open edX platform works best with current versions of Chrome, Firefox or Safari, or with Internet Explorer version 9 and above.

See our list of supported browsers for the most up-to-date information.