A photograph of a man looking up at a sign that reads “Variety is the Spice of Life.”

Source: Phil: “Variety the Spice of Life”, edd.ie, Flickr

It is said that variety is the spice of life. That is an old cliché, but it is very true. Most people don’t want to eat the same meal every day, wear the exact same outfit daily, or watch the same movie over and over. I know that I don’t enjoy reading essays or articles that use the same simple sentence construction over and over. To me, that’s as boring as eating a cheese sandwich for lunch day in and day out. Sentence variety is part of a writer’s style that makes a piece of writing worth reading. One way that you can spice up your writing is to incorporate verbals into your sentences. Verbals are verbs that are used as other parts of speech, such as nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. Let’s take a look at an example. Read the paragraph below.

A photograph of lightning bolts striking near a house during a storm.

Source: lightning over the road, dalinean, Flickr

“Someone pounded on the door, and Lucinda was startled. She crept down the staircase. A loud noise boomed off in the distance. The sky was getting dark, and there was lightning. The cat yowled and hissed as he shot past her down the stairs. Lucinda wanted to hide under the covers in her bed. She grabbed a baseball bat for protection. She flung the door open and found her husband searching for his house keys.”

Now read the revised paragraph.

A pounding on the front door startled Lucinda. Frightened, she crept down the staircase. A loud noise boomed off in the distance. Lightning crackled briefly across the darkening sky. Yowling and hissing, the cat shot past her down the stairs. Lucinda wanted to run quickly to bed and hide under the covers. Grabbing a baseball bat for protection, she rushed to the door and flung it open to find her husband searching for his house keys.

The revised paragraph includes verbals, and it’s the verbals that allow the writing to move from sentence to sentence in a seemingly effortless way. Maybe more importantly, the passage is just more interesting to read with verbals. In this lesson, you will learn about verbals and how to use them in your writing.