The Devil counts the be verb amongst his many manifestations.

Why possess we, writing in English, the habit of so effortlessly and frequently relying upon the be verb? I recognize that, at times, “is”, “are”, or any other variant, its simplicity highlighting the nuances at hand, far better serves the author than any action verb could; however, more often than not (or so I believe), employing the be verb simply deadens even the otherwise-crispest of sentences. Perhaps more pernicious, used unsparingly, it denigrates the very concept of being.

An example: In the cover article of this week’s Leader, a Starke County, Indiana, publication, editor John Reed, writing about the 2008 Harvest Days Festival in perfidious Knox, my mother’s hometown and the county’s seat of government, notes, “The cheerleading competition will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in the parking lot across the street from the MC Smith Funeral Home” Could not Mr. Reed just as easily have apprised the reader of the relevant information without resorting to “will be”? He could, perhaps, have composed the following simple declarative: “The cheerleading competition will occur . . . .” Instead, he leaves me to fret: Heaven forfend the cheerleading competition would endure an existential crisis, realizing that the Festival’s committee has limited its time of being to one minute (or, more liberally, hour), on one day, at one place. How should we react to such misfortune whilst not forgetting to tend to the psychological and spiritual well-being of the “lots of ‘guy’ activities, including the Burnout sponsored by the Knox-Center Township Fire Department”?


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