Bidding "to-be" Verbs a Fond Farewell

What are "to-be" verbs?

“To-be” verbs: is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been; state of being verbs

The Challenge

Eliminate as many "to-be" verbs from your writing as possible.

What's the deal with "to-be" verbs?

  • Vague implications.  Example:  Be quiet.  Better:  Do not raise your voice indoors. 
  • Absolute.  Example:  Girls with blonde hair are dizzy.  Explanation:  Blonde hair and gender are not requirements for dizziness. 
  • Dull, wordy, not expressive, and leads to passive sentences.  Example:  He was feeling sad by the news of his grandmother's death.  Better:  Saddened by the news of his grandmother's untimely death, he wept.
  • Conveys permanence.  Example:  I am thirsty.  Explanation:  Unless you find yourself in a constant state of thirst, the sentence is inaccurate. 


Combating the "to-be" verbs

Circle or highlight all "to-be" verbs in your writing.

Prevent passive sentences by making the "doer" the subject.

Find a stronger verb to replace the "to-verb" verb.  Example:  She was pretty in her pink dress.  Better:  She looked pretty in her pink dress.  Try using other linking verbs such:  look, seem, feel, became, remain, smell, taste....

Do not begin a sentence with "there is", "there are", "this is", or "it is".

Combine sentences to create one concise thought.  Example:  She was in love.  She felt scared that he was not in love her with her.  Better:  Frightened he did not love her, she concealed her love. 

Let me know how you did with this challenge!

Richele is a writer, speaker, and graphic designer. Her background in educational psychology never prepared her for balancing laundry baskets and grading math assignments. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Check out her business, Crisp Apple Design

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