ELA 5: Using Showing Verbs in Your Dialogue

Today we'll learn about showing verbs. Said does the job fine...but why not gasp, squeal, chortle, and erupt your way through dialogue instead? Just don't try to do all of them at the same time.

5th GradeLanguage Arts
Elementary and Middle School5th Grade
LanguageEnglish Language

Transcript

00:26

To do this, you might use the word “said.”

00:29

Y'know… "he said, "I love you!" she said, "I love you, too!" we said, "oh boy, why are

00:34

we here, this is awkward…?" [Girl looks grossed out]

00:35

All awkward love confessions aside, you're probably pretty comfortable with the word, [Coop pointing at a blackboard]

00:39

"said."

00:40

But sometimes it's fun to get out of our comfort zone!

00:42

…As long as we can keep wearing our sweatpants.

00:45

…They're superduper comfy. [Guy wearing sweatpants appears]

00:47

Anyway, we know that “said" gets the point across, but it's not very exciting… [Boring stamp]

00:52

So what else can we use?

00:53

Well, imagine you're writing a story about two women, and you write the line: "'You're

00:57

having a baby?' she said."

00:59

It's clear that one character's asking the other about whether she's having a baby, but ['Scanning for emotions appears']

01:04

it's tough to tell how she feels about the question.

01:06

Is the prospect of someone having a baby exciting?

01:09

Surprising? Scary?

01:10

Inconvenient? Boring? [Emotions appearing]

01:12

With "said" as our only clue, the emotional drive of the question is pretty unclear. [Sherlock appears]

01:16

But what happens if we replace "said" with a descriptive verb, like "gasped"?

01:22

People tend to gasp when they're surprised or shocked, so the line takes on a distinctly

01:25

new emotional tone. [The sentence is hit with a hammer and vibrates]

01:28

On the other hand, what if we replace "said" with a different descriptive verb, like "squealed"? [The girls looked excited]

01:32

People squeal when they're really excited, so now it seems like the character delivering

01:36

the line is extremely excited for the possibly-pregnant woman.

01:39

…or she’s a pig. [Girl has a pig for her head]

01:40

Which, you know… she could be.

01:42

We never said otherwise.

01:44

And guess what?

01:45

There are tons of descriptive verbs out there! Look at all of them! [Big list of descriptive verbs flying across the screen]

01:49

And because we know that sharing is caring, we're going to share some of our favorites

01:52

with you…

01:53

So next time you're writing dialogue, try throwing in a few descriptive verbs.

01:59

Just make sure nobody's "shouting" in anyone's ear. [The two people look annoyed]