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09/04/2019

How can I get rid of the word “is” in my essay?

QUESTION
How can I get rid of the word “is” in my essay?
My teacher said I used the word “is” too many times in this paragraph, how can I get rid of it? (It’s from a critique of this book we read in class, I got rid of the title/author’s name because it doesn’t matter.

is a classic story of the American Dream: A young, hardworking boy striving to make a better life for himself. It was one of the most popular books of it’s time, and is still being read a hundred years later. But after reading it myself, I struggle to see why. This book is far from a great piece of literature. In my opinion, the writing is pretty mediocre.

ANSWER
Getting rid of all your “to be” verbs can improve your writing dramatically!!

I almost said “Getting rid of all your ‘to be’ verbs is a great way to improve your writing.”

…See the difference? not using “to be” verbs (is, was, being, to be, are, am, etc.) forces you to write more creatively, dynamically, and with a more active, less passive voice. It adds interest, and helps you achieve a greater level of maturity in your writing. (I could have said ‘It helps your writing become more interesting and mature.”)

Try this exercise: Go through your whole paper and underline or highlight every “to be” verb that you see. You probably read them very often, which can make them difficult to spot, so have a proof reader go through and double check for you. When you’re fairly certain that you have found them all, go through, sentence by sentence, and work to eliminate every single one of them by rewriting the sentences in less common, more creative ways. You can do it!

I once had a teacher that assigned an essay at the beginning of the year, and on the due date, instead of collecting them, told us to take out a highlighter or red pen and mark every “to be” verb, and then to rewrite the essays and make all of them disappear. I felt frustration at what seemed like an impossible assignment, and even a little bit of anger at the teacher for wasting our time. Of course, he didn’t waste our time at all. Each of our papers improved dramatically with the rewrite. The task can seem difficult at first, and does take some extra brainpower and attention to detail, but I can’t think of very many academic lessons more valuable or beneficial than that one

I don’t want to rewrite your whole paragraph for you, because I think the experience and the time put in to make the changes will really benefit you, but I’ll give you one more little example:
The classic novel, _________________ by author__________________ tells of a young and hardworking boy who strives to make a better life for himself and attain the “American Dream.”