W HICH VERBS ARE THE “ BE VERBS ”? Am Is Are Was Were Be Been Being Subject + __(be verb)___ + rude.
W HAT ’ S W RONG WITH “B E V ERBS ”? Let’s look at an example: The park was very active. There were many people in the park. There were also many pets. There were even a lot of animals that were native to the park. Where are the “be verbs”? How can you eliminate the “be verbs”?
W HAT ’ S W RONG WITH “B E V ERBS ”? 1. “Be verbs” are vague. They just say that something “is”/”exists.” Theresa is tall. 2. “Be verbs” often lead to other vague words/phrases. Active verbs are good. 3. “Be verbs” often lead to wordy sentences. This study is a repetition of Sanford’s noteworthy methods.
B E V ERBS IN A CADEMIC W RITING This observation does not diminish the significant advances made in historical interpretation of the military, but such a concentration does not encompass the experience of all those involved in military service, nor address the multiple identities a soldier could have. This is particularly relevant in the case of Britain’s military experience in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. From around 1740 to 1815 Britain’s armed forces underwent a massive and sustained expansion in response to a series of ever more demanding wars. --“Defining Soldiers: Britian’s Military, c. 1740-1815”
H OWEVER, S OME B E V ERBS ARE N ECESSARY Keep be verbs if: 1. They’re part of the verb tense (a helping verb) Present progressive: She is running. Past progressive: She was running. 2. It’s an idiomatic/common way of saying that phrase I was born in 1980. Leave the “be verb” if changing it alters the meaning or makes the sentence awkward.
H OW C AN W E E LIMINATE “B E V ERBS ”? 1. Remove the verb or phrase. 2. Substitute the verb with another verb. 3. Rearrange the sentence. 4. Change another word in the sentence into the verb. 5. Combine sentences. 6. Show, don’t tell.
R EMOVE THE V ERB OR P HRASE Sometimes the word or phrase that contains the “be” verb is not necessary. 1. It was Sam who told the teacher about the prank.
S UBSTITUTE THE V ERB WITH A NOTHER V ERB Sometimes you can immediately think of an active verb to replace the “be” verb. 1. That pizza is scary.
R EARRANGE THE S ENTENCE Sometimes you can take ideas from the end of the sentence and make them the subject. (Make passive sentences active.) 1. 53 new asteroids were discovered by astronomers last year alone.
C HANGE A NOTHER W ORD IN THE S ENTENCE INTO THE V ERB Many times you can take a noun or other word in the sentence and make it the verb. (Nominalizations) 1.This study is a repetition of Sanford’s noteworthy methods.
C OMBINE S ENTENCES Sometimes you can use details or phrases from other sentences to help you eliminate the “be verb.” 1. I am wearing black today. It is my favorite color.
S HOW, DON ’ T TELL Turn general statements into detailed examples. 1. Sharks are vicious.
P RACTICE Decide whether or not the be verb should be changed. If it should be changed, do so using one of the 6 ways. 1. I am depressed. 2. They were embarrassed by the comedian. 3. Sally is bothering me. 4. She is smart. 5. Your brother is taller than you. 6. There is one thing that her behavior suggests—she is pregnant. 7. Active verbs are good.
PRACTICE: R EMOVE B E V ERBS FROM Y OUR W RITING 1. Circle all the “be verbs” (except for those inside quotations from outside sources). 2. Decide which “be verbs” should be eliminated. Not helping be verbs (e.g., is running) Not idiomatic/common phrases 3. Revise your sentences to eliminate the be verbs. Reminder—Be Verbs: Am, is, are, was, were, be, been, being