I don't want to say:

Although his top teeth were straight, his bottom row of teeth were crooked.

Is there a different/stronger verb I could use in place of "were" to describe the setting of his (Gustafa's) teeth?

I could reword this sentence if need be, I'm in the self-editing stage and I don't want to use was/were unless I have to – I'm sure there's a more fitting word here I can use – as long as it doesn't sound too formal or forced.

I also don't want to sound like a jerk and say "jutted".

  • I'm going to assume you want to keep things in the past tense—so, you're not interested in using are. One alternative is: Although he had a top row of straight teeth, he had a bottom row of crooked teeth. Otherwise, I'm not sure exactly what you're going for. (Although his top teeth aligned, his bottom teeth did not?) May 3, 2019 at 20:32
  • You could use were only once, if at all, and introduce something else. How about this to start with? "Against his beautiful top teeth, his crooked bottom teeth..." I'm not sure how far this is getting into the realms of writing advice.
    – Andrew Leach
    May 3, 2019 at 20:36
  • Although he had straight teeth along the top, he had crooked ones on the bottom.
    – Hot Licks
    May 4, 2019 at 1:17
  • Is your concern really with 'were' or is it with 'crooked' which you consider insufficiently extreme?
    – BoldBen
    May 4, 2019 at 5:15
  • 2
    See synonyms for crooked.
    – Xanne
    May 4, 2019 at 5:45

2 Answers 2


You could elide the second were: "His upper teeth were straight, the lower crooked."

Or talk about their appearance, if that fits the context: "...his bottom teeth looked crooked."

Or replace the first were instead: "His top teeth lined up neatly, but his bottom teeth were crooked." Or "His top teeth formed an orderly arc..." or "His top teeth stood straight..." or "He had straight upper teeth..."

Or imply one of the adjectives by contrast: "His lower teeth were not straight like the upper ones." "His upper teeth were straight. The same could not be said for the lower." "His lower teeth were much more crooked than the upper ones."

Or remove this sentence and mention each row of teeth separately, in passing, elsewhere: "his straight upper teeth" and "his crooked lower teeth".

But why not use were repeatedly? It's so common that readers won't notice the repetition or be bothered by it.



his bottom row presented some degree of crookedness / presented a marked (or extreme) degree of crookedness.'

Definition (Oxford): Exhibit (a particular state or appearance) to others.

You could also use show in place of present.

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