To Be or Not To Be

This post describes something useful about ordinary writing, not about Shakespeare.

First, read the comic, first panel.

Notice that you could have put “to be” between “turn out” and “so.” The sentence makes perfect sense the way she wrote it, though, doesn’t it?

Lots of languages leave out forms of “to be” most of the time. I remember hearing an interview in All Things Considered several decades ago. The guy had resolved to stop using any form of “to be.” And I’ve heard occasional remarks from teacher types who pointed out that you can replace “to be” with a more meaningful verb almost all the time, and doing so improves your writing. (I should add that using “to be” often puts a verb into the passive voice, which I already preach against.)

Give it a try: Cut down on using “to be.” It makes your writing livelier.

PS—in the second panel, for example, she could have said “Let’s go offline for the day.”