Which do you prefer—the phrase “to cut or split something into two theoretically and essentially equal parts,” or the simple verb “bisect”? Which is easier to write and to read—the phrase “unite into what is essentially one body,” or the simple verb “coalesce”? As you explain scientific phenomena, your readers will be highly pleased with you if you offer them lively, exact, direct, robust, vibrant, single-word verbs. Furthermore, your writing will be less wordy and more clear. However, many writers are tempted in the other direction. Trying to sound impressive, some would write “The device is prone to the submission of one pulse every 12 seconds” instead of the much simpler and more accurate “The device transmits one pulse every 12 seconds.” Always beware of overcomplicating your verbs, and remember that their function is to describe actively and efficiently.
Many verbs are used continually in one field but rarely in another, so it is essential that you become familiar with those verbs that are standard vocabulary in your field. The verb “induce,” which means “to produce an electric current or magnetic effect by induction,” should be standard vocabulary for someone in physics or electrical engineering, while the verb “sinter,” which means “to weld without melting,” should be familiar and useful to those in metallurgy (it also doubles as a noun in geology).
Plenty of meaningful single-word verbs are out there just waiting for you to use them. One easy way to choose the best verb is to consult the brief (and certainly not exhaustive) list that follows to search for the kinds of active verbs that the best writers choose. The verbs are organized randomly to stress that they are not interchangeable nor to be used arbitrarily. Even though the exact verb that you need to describe a phenomenon may not be on this list, the verbs on the list do suggest the kind of verbs that you should choose. Many students tell me they turn to this list as they write a paper just to keep their minds tuned-in to using single-word active verbs. For efficiency, accuracy, and your own credibility as a technical writer, always aim for the best and simplest verb. If you are unsure of a verb’s exact meaning, be sure to look it up.