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Avoiding Weak Verbs

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by

Mike Piero

on 10 September 2014

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Transcript of Avoiding Weak Verbs

Avoiding Weak Verbs

Strong Verbs
The verb should express the main action in our sentences.
Oftentimes, though, the main action gets relegated to the position of a noun, usually a -tion or -ing word
The verb is the main force, the main engine, of our sentences, making them either sexy or just sad.
Example
Weak verb:
The mouse
was
chased by the cat.

What's the main action in the sentence? The chasing, right?

Better sentence:
The cat
chased
the mouse.

The second sentence is in active voice, is more concise, and restores the action to the place of a verb.
Main Offenders
The most common weak verbs:

"to be"-- be, is, was, are, were

"to have"-- has, have, had

We can and need to use these sometimes, but they shouldn't supplant the action verbs in our sentences
Another Example
Weak Verb:
Farmer Bob had lots of goats roaming around the farm.

Problem: the weak verb "had" takes the place of the verb, relegating the action ("roaming") to the place of a gerund (an -ing word).

Better sentence:
Many goats roam around Farmer
Bob's farm.

Steps for Avoiding Weak Verbs
Identify the weak verb
Identify the main action of the sentence
Rework the sentence so the main action is expressed as a verb
Make sure that each of your sentences contain at least one verb
Don't replace the weak verb with another weak verb.
Michael Piero
Assistant Professor, English
Cuyahoga Community College
Westshore Campus
Why Should We Care?
Improving the strength of your verbs remains one of the most effective ways to uplift your writing to college level and beyond.

Breaking the habit of writing with weak verbs will take effort and time, but it's totally worth the investment.
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