About the Verbinator

Life may be a verb, but we still have to choose the right one! Dictionaries define words, and thesauri list synonyms, but what help do creative writers have in choosing the right verb? Notice how the choice of verb influences the mood in each of these example sentences:

  • The car drove down the street.
  • The car sped down the street.
  • The car raced down the street.
  • The car turned the corner.
  • The car zoomed around the curve.
  • The car careened around the curve.
  • The car crashed.
  • The car parked.

Verbs set the mood, and the best writers choose the best verb. Enter the verbinator! Look up the noun and find a list of verbs used with that noun. The ordinary sentence: “He smelled her perfume” suddenly becomes: “The perfume announced her.”

This version of the verbinator provides approximately one million noun-verb pairs, offering a rich choice of verbs relevant to each noun. These noun-verb pairs were extracted from the American National Corpus (ANC) to provide the data for the verbinator. This massive electronic collection of American English contains more than fourteen million words selected from written and spoken sources. As each sentence was scanned the nouns were extracted and paired with each verb appearing in the same sentence. For example, scanning the sentence “The car drove down the street” provides the pairs:

Note that the verbs captured may pertain to either the subject or the object of the sentence. In addition, the base form rather than the particular form of the words is captured. For example the words: drove and driving are each captured as “drive”. Also, all forms of the verb “to be” were omitted because they are ubiquitous. Pairs are reported in decreasing order of the probability of the noun appearing with each verb, written mathematically as p(noun | verb).

The corpus extraction identified more than 7 million noun-verb pairs. This was analyzed to determine the probability of each noun appearing with each verb. Because the ANC data contains transcripts of real people talking, the language is real and not necessarily textbook grammar. As a result, the lists of verbs often contain words that are not verbs and some that are not regular English. Enjoy this organic aspect of the tool. If you cannot find the noun you are looking for, try to find some synonym.

The verbinator is quirky, it is intended to spark your imagination but it is not a substitute for a spelling dictionary or any other rigorous language reference.  Go ahead, get started and have fun.

Usage Tips:

Following these examples can help you verbinate quickly and easily.

Rather Than: Use: Because:



Proper nouns are not listed.



Proper nouns are not listed.



Plural nouns are not listed.



Correct spelling works better.

oxygen tank When working to improve a sentence such as "The oxygen escaped from the tank." consider both the subject noun and the object noun.
oxygen air If you are primarily describing the mechanical properties of oxygen, then it behaves like "air" and verbinating "air" might suggest a more useful list. Consider more general nouns to get more suggestions.

Previous versions of the verbinator can be accessed here, for those of you that prefer one of the legacy algorithms:

The Verbinator is also available as traditional document; if you wish to download the 612 page-long pdf file. For this print-style version this massive dataset was reduced by using a list of 1,979 often-used nouns to focus this version of the verbinator on the words most likely to be needed.

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Copyright © 2013 by Leland R. Beaumont. All rights reserved.