e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


Strong Verbs

As I read student work this morning, I find myself urging students to use stronger verbs. "Construct sentences around present-tense action verbs," I write in the margins. Action verbs represent the aspect of "good writing" I spend the most time teaching all the while seeing only a fair amount of change in drafts of papers. I wonder if the action verb plays a lesser role than I imagine in contemporary discourse and the genres, electronic and otherwise, that students encounter on a daily basis. Do lessons on the "action verb" represent an old-school (outmoded), Strunk & White mentality? I ask not because I feel any less affinity for crisp verbs but rather because I get the sense that the written language that fills the days of my students (presumably with lots of "is" and "was") effectively trumps the language I advocate. And perhaps that means these particular lessons may not connect to the realities of the contemporary world. On the other hand, maybe the real world, not me, needs to change.

1 comment:

Luisa said...

Bill the writing students do on blogs and texts is fast paced and rarely revised. My own daughter who knows better uses lots of da for the and other irritatingly annoying word choices. She teasingly taunts with it's her generation's writing texts and Facebook entries.

My point is keep at teaching action verbs. As they grow into becoming writers for their professions they'll think fondly of you and your lessons.