To Be Or Not To Be

August 18, 2009

When I when back to school for my English degree at ASU, I had a fantastic teacher who taught me everything there is to know about writing, helped me create my own column in the school newspaper, and generally let me behave like a spoiled writing diva.

He only had one hang-up:  “to-be verbs.”  You know, verbs like is, am, are, was, were…  To my professor, to-be verbs carried the stench of rotten meat.  (See, I was going to write, “to-be verbs were the devil,” but realized I shouldn’t use a to-be verb in my own attack on those little scoundrels.  Image of rotten meat better than image of devil?  Discuss…)

Anyway, those damn to-be verbs hounded me in my writing, haunting every sentence and appearing against my will.  With each exorcised to-be verb, three new ones would spring up in its place (like gremlins!).  My papers came back with every single to-be verb circled repeatedly in red pen.  I maintain that it is (damn!) impossible to write a four-page paper without using at least one to-be verb.  After graduating and bidding adieu to my professor, I found peace with to-be verbs, and frankly, sometimes writing, “she was angry” is just a little more satisfyingly succinct than, “she quaked with the anger of a thousand thwarted lovers.”

But oh!  How my old professor would love Moo.  I think that more than toys, candy, and snakes put together, Moo loves action verbs.

Watching a little girl run around:  “Oh! She skittered across the room!”

Me, from the kitchen: “What are you doing, Moo?”  Moo: “Just scrambling on the couch!”

Pretending to be a duck:  “I can run really fast!,’ Duck boasted.”

Playing with her animals:  “…And then he twisted away and jumped down and the bunny bounded over and bounced and bounced and BOUNCED!”

A+, Moo.

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4 Responses to “To Be Or Not To Be”

  1. Katy Says:

    My AP American Lit teacher in high school did the exact same thing with me, only with using “You” (i.e. writing “One would think” as opposed to “You would think”…not the best example, but I’m very tired at the moment) and numerous other bad writing habits I had at the time. She’s the reason I’m a good writer and a fierce editor.

    YAY for Moo’s fabulous way with words!

  2. kristi Says:

    Man, he’d eat my lunch. See?

  3. Beth H. Says:

    wow, Moo has a very impressive vocabulary! I love that she narrates while she’s playing (“Duck boasted”) – too cute!

  4. mamarose Says:

    I just have to add that the other day, we were in a consignment store and Moo wanted to play with a toy house, but I wasn’t sure if it was for sale yet and I stopped her. Moo: “But I just want to admire it!” Ha.


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