How can you revise your sentences to eliminate unnecessary “to be” verbs?
- Circle or highlight forms of “to be” verbs in your sentences and paragraphs: is, am, was, were, being, been
- Look for the “doer” in your sentences: Who is performing the action?
- Make the “doer” the subject of your sentence.
- Substitute more expressive words for the “to be” verbs to enliven the action performed by the “doer.”
- Avoid beginning sentences with It is, There is, or There are.
- Avoid the use of present progressive verb forms such as is happening, is going, and is deciding.
Let’s look at some examples:
Weak: He is a student who is intelligent and confident. He is always completing assignments on time.
Stronger: The intelligent, confident student always completes assignments on time.
Weak: It was difficult to get out of bed at 6:00 a.m. each morning.
Stronger: The student faced the difficulty and got out of bed at 6:00 a.m. each morning.
Weak: Bill is going to start bringing all of his books to the group session for studying.
Stronger: Bill decided to bring all of his books to the group study session.
For additional resources on avoiding unneccessary “to be” verbs, see also: