By Kathy Ide
Wherever possible, your clients should strive to use strong, precise verbs rather than weak, vague verbs. Instead of saying, “They were going,” write, “They went.” Or better yet, show how they went. “They jogged,” “They raced,” “They ambled,” for example. A single descriptive action verb is almost always better than a weak passive verb.
Here are some examples:
Passive: It is believed by Sue that a curfew must be placed on her son, Matthew.
Active: Sue believes that she must place a curfew on her son, Matthew.
Passive: It was earlier demonstrated that Matthew could be intimidated by too much freedom.
Active: Friday’s party showed Sue that too much freedom could intimidate Matthew.
Passive verbs often indicate that a subject exists, or that something happens to the subject. Active verbs describe something a subject does.
Passive: Andrew had dark, curly hair and a bushy beard.
Active: Andrew ran his fingers through his dark, curly hair and stroked his bushy beard.
Passive: Two cups of coffee were on the table.
Active: Joe picked up two cups of coffee from the table.
Kathy Ide is a published author/ghostwriter, editor/mentor, and writers’ conference speaker. Her latest books are Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors and 21 Days of Grace: Stories that Celebrate God’s Unconditional Love, the first in the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series. Kathy is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network (www.TheChristianPEN.comwww.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Connection (www.ChristianEditor.comwww.ChristianEditor.com). To find out more, visit www.KathyIde.com.
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