Presentation on theme: "Grammar as Rhetoric and Style"— Presentation transcript:
1Grammar as Rhetoric and Style Direct, Precise, and Active Verbs
2Direct, precise, and active verbs energize writing. “Yesterday the cyclone struck again as Notre Dame beat the Army 13 to 7, with a set of backfield stars that ripped and crashed through a strong Army defense with more speed and power than the warring cadets could meet.”Verbs recreate the high energy of the game.Rhetorical effect:First three verbs move the sentence forward with such vigor and clarity that they vividly convey the force that overcame the strong Army defense.Verbs contribute to the highly energetic tone of the piece.Direct, precise, and active verbs energize writing.
3“He watched until she left, lost in the crowd of the newly arrived tourists that had just come down the hill by cable car. Then he sat down again at the table in the restaurant, finishing his tea and lighting another cigarette, his fifth in the last half hour. It was 11:30 in the morning. None of the other tables were occupied, and the only sounds came from the bar, where a liquor salesman was laughing at something the headwaiter had said. But then the salesman, his briefcase under his arm, headed for the door, stopping briefly to peek into the dining room and call out, “See you later, Joe.” Joe DiMaggio turned and waved at the salesman. Then the room was quiet again.”What can you say about the verbs in this excerpt from “The Silent Season of a Hero” by Gale Talese?
4One should use forms of to be and other linking verbs sparingly and with a specific reason. Often, one can change a form of to be followed by a predicate adjective or a predicate noun into an action verb.Direct Verbs
5PV: In England itself, whose shining empire seemed to be a testament to the imperial destiny of the Anglo-Saxon race, the fears for the inferiority of the nation’s fighting men had some empirical basis. AV: In England itself, whose shining empire seemed to testify to the imperial destiny of the Anglo-Saxon race, the fears for the inferiority of the nation’s fighting men had some empirical basis.Example
6Though there is generally nothing wrong with using general verbs to describe action, making the verbs as precise as possible adds a greater level of engagement and intensity for the audience.Precise Verbs
7G. Verb: As Emily walks onto the floor in her green-and-gold uniform, she looks for me. P. Verb: As Emily bounces onto the floor in her green-and-gold uniform, her eyes scan the crowd to meet mine.Example
8Use verbs in the active voice—with an easy-to-picture subject doing something—unless you have a specific purpose for using the passive voice, where the subject is acted upon.By and large, strong writers stick to the active voice.Many times, using passive voice makes for a wordy sentence that is difficult to follow.Active Verbs
9PV: In the forty-first game…an American League record that had been set by George Sisler in 1922 was tied by Joe DiMaggio. AV: In the forty-first game…DiMaggio tied an American League record that George Sisler had set in 1922.Example
10Let’s Practice~Improve the following sentences by replacing one or more verbs in each with a more effective verb.
11My first college visit will always be remembered by me. Correction: I will always remember my first college visit.Improve the sentences by replacing one or more verbs in each with a more effective verb—that is, a more vivid, precise, and active verb.
12There are many technological advances available to make our lives easier. Correction: Many technological advances make our lives easier.
13In the middle of the night, sirens could be heard. Correction: Sirens screamed in the middle of the night.It was not very long before she regretted buying the expensive handbag.Correction: She regretted buying the expensive handbag almost immediately.
14The Graham technique is little esteemed by modern dancers today. Correction: Today’s modern dancers dismiss the Graham technique.The college advisor said she could not make a suggestion about which school to apply to because she didn’t know his SAT scores.Correction: The college advisor said she could not suggest colleges until she knew his SAT scores.
15The team captain is responsible for scheduling practices and communicating with team members. Correction: The team captain schedules practices and communicates with team members.A decision was reached by the arbitration panel.Correction: The arbitration panel decided.
16The local sheriff gave a warning to the college students about walking around with open containers. Correction: The local sheriff warned the students not to walk around with open containers.The chief of surgery took the opportunity to thank the volunteers.Correction: The chief of surgery thanked the volunteers.
17Do your children have fears about going away to camp? Correction: Are your children afraid of going away to camp?Antigone was very protective of Oedipus in Oedipus of Colonus.Correction: Antigone protected Oedipus in Oedipus at Colonus.
18Shea, Renee, Lawrence Scanlon, and Robin Dissin Aufses Shea, Renee, Lawrence Scanlon, and Robin Dissin Aufses. The Language of Composition: Reading, Writing, Rhetoric, 2nd ed., Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013.Resources