20 Verbs Smothered by “Be”s

By Mark Nichol

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Below are phrases in which a form of “to be” plus an adjective (or a preposition and a noun) and, often, a preposition can easily be replaced by a simple form of the verb (occasionally accompanied by a preposition), resulting in a more concise statement:

Before: “She is able (or unable) to think for herself.”
After: “She can (or cannot) think for herself.”

Before: “This rule is applicable to both scenarios.”
After: “This rule applies to both scenarios.”

Before: “They are authorized (or empowered) to speak on our behalf.”
After: “They may speak on our behalf.”

Before: “The company is benefited by this policy.”
After: “The company benefits from this policy.”

Before: “The agreement is binding upon both parties.”
After: “The agreement binds both parties.”

Before: “The compound is derived from a chemical reaction.”
After: “The compound derives from a chemical reaction.”

Before: “We are desirous of your reply.”
After: “We desire your reply.”

Before: “She is in agreement with us.”
After: “She agrees with us.”

Before: “He will be in attendance at the event.”
After: “He will attend the event.”

Before: “Their behavior is indicative of what you can expect from them.”
After: “Their behavior indicates what you can expect of them.”

Before: “He is in error in his account of the incident.”
After: “He errs in his account of the incident.”

Before: “It was in existence at that moment.”
After: “It existed at that moment.”

Before: “She is influential on his artistic style.”
After: “She influences his artistic style.”

Before: “I am in possession of some incriminating evidence.”
After: “I hold some incriminating evidence.” (In this case, “I possess . . .” in place of “I am in possession of . . .” would imply ownership, not temporary possession, which is what the original sentence implies.)

Before: “My colleague is in receipt of the document.”
After: “My colleague received the document.”

Before: “The mechanism will soon be operative.”
After: “The mechanism will soon operate.”

Before: “The company was in violation of several regulations.”
After: “The company violated several regulations.”

Before: “The committee was productive of a thorough report.”
After: “The committee produced a thorough report.”

Before: “This advertising campaign will be effectively promotive of the product.”
After: “This advertising campaign will effectively promote the product.”

Before: “We are supportive of your efforts.”
After: “We support your efforts.”

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4 Responses to “20 Verbs Smothered by “Be”s”

  • Amandah

    Thanks for sharing.

    BTW: Congratulations on being listed in the May/June issue of Writer’s Digest! I received my issue yesterday and saw Daily Writing Tips listed in WD’s “101 Best Websites for Writers” section.

  • dhruv

    your effort for us is tremendous. i really appreciate your endeavor.
    but it is my suggestion that you must do also something for the people
    who’s basic are not as strong as others.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Amandah: that’s nice, thanks for letting us know!

  • Madhusudan

    No 6. “The compound is derived from a chemical reaction” is the correct usage. This usage is specific to chemistry. Also a compound does not derive or derive from anything, a compound is derived by people (or another compound, usually called the reactant) . It would be correct to say that Tom derived the compound from a reaction, or that the compound is derived from the reactant (in case of which the compound is known as the derivative of the reactant). This is a case when plain English has to be overlooked in favor of the correct usage in the respective field.

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