Composition Name: _____________________
How to get Rid of “To Be” Verbs
Situation #1: “to be” verb + -ing verb
Solution: drop the “to be” verb and use the correct conjunction of the other verb.
Example: Sadie was yelling at her little brother to leave her alone.
Sadie yelled at her little brother to leave her alone.
You try: While Adrian works on the computer, Miguel is researching their topic.
Situation #2: passive voice—“to be” verb + verb in the past tense (-ed, -en, etc.)
Solution: ask yourself who or what is doing the action of the verb and make that word the
subject of the sentence.
Example: Claire’s hair was styled professionally for the wedding.
The beautician styled Claire’s hair professionally for the wedding.
You try: When she kept texting during class, Sarah’s phone was taken promptly.
Situation #3: “wh” word (who, which, etc) + “to be” verb + descriptive phrase
Solution: drop “wh” word and “to be” verb
Examples: Harry Potter, who was orphaned as a baby, grew up with his aunt and uncle.
Orphaned as a baby, Harry Potter grew up with his aunt and uncle.
Everyone should read The Hunger Games, which is one of the greatest book I’ve read.
Everyone should read The Hunger Games, one of the greatest books I’ve read.
You try: Gabby, who is Charlie’s youngest sister, just ran her best time at the cross-country meet.
Situation #4: there + “to be” verb
Solution: drop there + “to be” verb, use a noun or noun phrase from the sentence as the subject
And think of a more active, interesting and specific verb
Examples: There are many ways to get on your teacher’s good side (including giving chocolate).
Many methods work effectively to get on your teacher’s good side (also including coffee).
There may be rain in the forecast tomorrow.
The meteorologist forecasted a chance of rain tomorrow.
You try: There is no way that Emma will try out for soccer because she hates running.
Situation #5: your basic “to be” verb
Solution: pick a different verb and rework the sentence
Examples: The children picked that dog from the shelter because he was playful.
Because of the dog’s playful demeanor, the children picked him from the shelter.
Carl is a talented football player.
Carl’s athleticism makes him a talented football player.
The best part of the movie is when the main characters kill off all the zombies.
In the best part of the movie, the main characters slaughter all the zombies.
You try: Mark is not a great baseball player because he is scared of the ball.
While lying may be easier, it is always better to tell the truth.
My favorite part of the book is when Boo saves Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell.