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Passive Verbs

Writers too often use passive verbs and passive construction. Count the number of times you use a form of "to be" in your essay. Often, these words should be replaced with more colorful and precise verbs. What action is really taking place? Try using stronger verbs.

Forms of "to be"

is

am

are

was

were

will be

will have been

has been

had been

would have been

being

to be

etc.

Other boring verbs

exists

seems

appears

represents

presents

constitutes

offers

has

acts as

displays

makes

exemplifies

describes

characterizes

shows

occurs

contains

Passive construction

there is

there are

it is

here is

Long veils are worn by brides in formal weddings.

Hillary Clinton is admired by many feminists.

 

 

Examples: Possible Solutions:
Veils are worn by brides in formal weddings. Brides in formal weddings wear veils.
Betty seems to be an efficient typist. Betty types efficiently.
Crest has been shown to be an effective, decay-preventing dentifrice. Crest prevents cavities.
Something will be done about it by her mother. Her mother will do something about it.
The discussion will be led by Mr. James Clubb. Mr. James Clubb will lead the discussion.
There are many women who never marry. Many women never marry.

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