To be, or not to be?

In every first draft of writing, the verb to be is overused. A good writer will add color to their writing; a better writer will eliminate all to be. By eliminating to be out of writing and speech, the writer (and speaker) will be clearer to understand and concise. I will admit, I’m bad at using to be in my writing, but I clean them up after I write down my story.

Here is an example of using to be:

The reason for excluding business records from the hearsay rule is their circumstantial guarantee of trustworthiness .If a business is to be successful, there must be accurate records on which it can rely to carry out its activities.

Notice the to be forms in the example? They are is, is to be, and must be. Here is a cleaner version of the example, eliminating to be:

The law of evidence excludes business records from the hearsay rule because they guarantee a certain level of trustworthiness. To succeed, a business must keep accurate records of its daily business dealings, records deemed reliable by the business itself and by its customers, suppliers, and lenders.

Notice the revisions made in the example? By eliminating to be in the writing, there had to be syntax changes. Plus, the reader can understand what the writer is trying to say. versus the first example where the topic is general.

Here is a list of some verbs that can be used to replace to be:

achieved, adopt, breaking, bring back, bury, carried out, deals, declare, destroy, drawn, edit out, excludes, fake, fastens, focusing, force, getting rid, hang, inflicts, kicking, link, motivated, obliterated, opposing, overusing, penned, qualify, recorded, reread, squeezed, think, try, viewed, and wish.

By eliminating to be in your writing, it will become smoother, easier to understand, and concise. Grab Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms or any of Joan Didion’s work, and tear apart their work. Albeit you won’t find any to be.

Works cited (the example):

Good, Edward C. Whose Grammar Book is this Anyway?. New York, 2002. pp.220-3. Print.

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