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KEEP YOUR VERBS ACTIVE When another writer catches your interest and holds your attention, he is probably using active or strong verbs in most of his sentences. If he writes "Batman's entry into the Joker's hideout was noisy," does this sentence catch your attention? If not, does "Batman blasted his way into the Joker's hideout" sound better? The second sentence is better because it uses a strong, active verb: "blasted." Many writers overuse the various forms of the verb "to be" (am, are, was, were, is). When they do this, they are simply using a weak verb to create an equation: x. v. For example, "The black horse h my favorite animal." (Horse = animal.) Because a verb like "is" used alone does not show any action, it makes the writing dull and lifeless. If you eliminate unnecessary uses of "to be" verbs you can create more powerful sentences by giving them life. The following are some suggestions: 1. Avoid forms of the verb "to be" when listing qualities or examples. "Some examples of places I can ride my horse to are the corral, the barn, the cornfield, and the like." This sentence is clearly weak. The verb shows no action. Instead, write "I ride my horse everywhere, for instance, to the corral, the barn, the cornfield, and the lake." This sentence is stronger. The verb "ride" conveys action and the subject "I" is actively doing something. 2. Look for another word in the "to be" verb sentence that you can use as an action verb when you rewrite it as a more direct sentence. The sentence "Horses are the only animals I ride" becomes more active when you rewrite it as "I ride only horses." Following are more examples: Weak: It is necessary that my horse be groomed. Strong: The trainer is grooming my horse. Weak: Strong: Weak: Strong: When is your retirement? When will you retire? Brand new pets are fascinating. Brand new fascinate me.

3. Save forms of the verb "to be" for when you want to stress a powerful equation. Examples: Fast horses are my greatest love. (horses = love) I am a fast-horse fanatic. (I = fanatic) Your idea for selling worn out horses is stupid. (Idea = stupid)

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4. Use active verbs in place of passive verbs. (Passive verbs are used in sentences in which the subject receives the action of the verb. We normally use passive verbs when we do not care who the doer of the action is, or we do not want to identify the doer of the action.) Example of a passive verb: "The dish was knocked off the table." Here we do not know who did the knocking or we want to hide the identity of whoever did it. We can make the verb active and show who did the dish-knocking by rewriting it as: "John knocked the dish off the table." When we write actively, someone or something must carry out the action in each sentence. Observe the following changes from passive to active: The letter was written well Jack wrote the letter well. Ten thousand students were served by the college last year. The college served ten thousand students last year. There is another way to keep your verbs active. Sharpen a verb's meaning and the image it creates by being precise in the choice of a verb. Picking the right verb is vital to making the meaning of a sentence clear. The right verb shows exactly what kind of action is taking place and gives the reader a clear mental picture of the action. Examples: Instead of look, use: stare, gaze, peek, gawk. Instead of throw, use: toss flip, hurl. Remember: for forceful, interesting sentences, use precise, strong, active verbs as often as you can.



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