Adding Action and Clarity to Writing
Avoiding Weak Verbs and Passive Voice:
Linking verbs include the following forms of the verb to be: be, am, is, are, was, were, being, and been. Contractions such as I'm, we're, and he's are also built upon linking verbs and express a state of being. Many writers, teachers, and professionals consider these verbs weak because they do not express any action; instead, they simply tell the reader that something exists.
Passive voice consists of a form of "be" and a past participle (look for -ed endings):
Passive voice tends to conceal rather than reveal information. In the sample sentence above, we do not know who mentioned the student's name or why he or she mentioned it. The following sentences also conceal important information:
On the other hand, these revisions provide clear evidence of "who did what to whom":
Weak verbs allow sentences to ramble on; often the predicates of such sentences are too lengthy and contain confusing prepositional phrases:
A revision of this sentence might eliminate some of the unneeded prepositional phrases and clearly state who disapproves of Becky and Lily:
The next sentence should explain how the audiences disapproved of the women.
How often do you read (or write) a sentence such as this:
Isn't "persona" a loaded word? Your reader might not understand what the word "persona" implies; Macbeth is a pretty complicated character! How about: