De-emphasizing the "Be" Verb

1. Turn the noun after a "be" verb into an appositive, adding additional information to flesh out the sentence.


John is a doctor.

John, a doctor, attended Harvard.

My dog is a Great Dane.

My dog, a Great Dane, barks at birds.

2. Move an adjective following a "be" verb to the front of the noun it describes, adding additional information to complete the sentence.


When I went to school, I discovered my teacher was demanding.

When I went to school, I discovered my demanding teacher assigned homework daily.

The lawyer was talented.

The talented lawyer argued the case successfully.

3. When you write a sentence with a "be" verb, ask yourself what the subject of the "be" verb does, not what the subject is.


My favorite musician is the most awesome drummer I have ever heard.

Here you tell what the musician is. Ask yourself what the musician does. What does he do? He plays the drum well.

My favorite musician plays the drum well.

My mother is a great cook.

What does your mother do?

My mother cooks great.

4. Words like "include" and "exist" can sometimes stand in for "be" especially when your sentence starts with "there" or "here." Sometimes simply moving words around eliminates the "be."


There are three reasons I like pizza.

I like pizza for three reasons.

Three reasons exist for my liking pizza.

Three reasons I like pizza include the cheese, the sauce, and the crust.

5. Watch out for the following:

*Contractions which contain a "be" verb still count as a "be" verb. Watch out for "it's," "they're." "we're," and other contractions containing "be."

*After you remove the "be," make sure you still have a complete sentence. I would rather see "be" verbs than fragments. Sometimes you must add additional information to complete the sentence.

*Remember, you committ no sin when using "be" verbs. However, active action verbs add strength to your writing.

*The "be" verbs include am, is, are, was, were, be, been, being.

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