Using Active Verbs Makes your Writing More Engaging

Orangeville, ON (My Corner Office) An alternative version of English with no forms of the verb “to be” was proposed by its creators. The E-Prime team says they invented it for philosophical reasons. By avoiding the use of “is,” “was,” “been,” and so on, authors are forced to use stronger verbs and provide more creative wording.

I was greatly affected by this, and for years, I tried to omit the phrase “to be” from my writing. In recent years, I have relaxed that rule somewhat. It is still a very powerful tool for tightening up and invigorating any text.

For instance:

BEFORE: “Our tactical fabric is strong against wind, snow and rain.”

IN E-PRIME: “Our tactical fabric withstands wind, snow and rain.”

You will often have to look deeper into the intended thought to turn the passage into E-Prime.

BEFORE: “I am a huge fan of the Kramer Time Management System. It’s transformative. The key is to consider how your inaction is a sign of unresolved conflicts.” (27 words)

IN E-PRIME: “The Kramer Time Management System allows you to identify and resolve your unresolved conflicts. Excellent!” (15 words)

1 Comment

  1. In writing, it is sometimes necessary to use “be” verbs. It is, however, possible to overuse these words. An excessive use of these terms may lead to writing that is weak or unclear. Avoid using the verb “be” in your text.

    The following benefits can be achieved by using active verbs:
    – Writing is stronger/clearer.
    – Writing is more descriptive.
    – Vocabulary is expanded.
    – Writing is less repetitive/more succinct.


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