Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 12

Thread: "To be" verbs?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    110


    Default "To be" verbs?

    I got points off on my English essay because I used "to be" verbs. I don't neccesarily understand - they seem like normal verbs to me, and other verbs look identical and she didn't mark them off. I looked on Wikipedia, but it has nothing on the subject, or at least, not in the way I'm referring to it as. What is a "to be" verb, and how would it look different from a normal verb? I'm guessing a "to be" verb is "I am fishing", correct? So, how would you say that you fish without making it a "to be" verb?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Northwest United States
    Posts
    4,069


    Default

    It's all about passive voice. Personally I hate when teachers force people to write in passive voice. To me it takes out some of the impact of the writing. I had an English professor that taught us to not use the 'to be' verbs an use others. Then I started writing for history and all of my history professors pet peeve is passive voice.

    Here is a link to 'to be' verbs.
    "There are no fools more bothersome than those with wit"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    8,680


    Default

    If you use linking verbs with all of your clauses, then it removes the sense of action and makes the reader feel distant to the topic.

    "At night, I am laying on my bed" doesn't sound as good as, say, "At night, I lay on my bed."

    "I am laying" is just describing yourself, whereas "I lay" describes what you are doing and brings the reader closer to the action of laying as opposed to the action of being.


    "I am fishing" would be changed to "I fish."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Riga, Latvia
    Posts
    3,758


    Default

    Uhm. I thought it was matter of tense. "I am fishing right now" would be Present Continuous Tense, "I fish from time to time" - Present Simple. It's about grammar not overflooding sentence with unnecessary words.
    And IamSam explained very well what "to be" verbs are.
    Before you speak think about what you're trying to say.
    Who else is there to blame for miscommunication?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    110


    Default

    So, if I was writing the sentence "I was fishing for only five minutes when storm clouds were forming", is that incorrect? Would it make more sense to say "I fished for only five minutes when storm clouds formed"? To me personally, that doesn't sound as good. But I guess that is what the teachers want, then. Thanks.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Cascadian Exile
    Posts
    19,609


    Default

    It might not sound as good. but you wouldn't notice any major difference in conversation, at least as a native Engllish speaker you wouldn't.
    Quote Originally Posted by T-6005 View Post
    I do no be following, fortune prick me if I do no.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Riga, Latvia
    Posts
    3,758


    Default

    I'm quite surprised that so far only IamSam's (well, and mine too ;p)reply was based on grammar not some stuff from personal experience like "this just makes more sense" or what wheelchairman said. Desperado asked for grammatical help and there are definite grammar rules, so he just needs to know those rules.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English...ct_progressive Check out "Tenses" section. In your case Past continuous is the tense to use. So it should be "I was fishing for only five minutes when storm clouds were forming". But it's just a single example of sentence which includes two parallel events, you'll have to use all the tenses properly, not just past continuous, so you better learn them.
    I think you got points off because you used wrong tense and "to be" verb is like the most important thing that is connected with tenses, that's why teacher told you that you mistakenly used "to be".
    Last edited by Free?; 11-26-2008 at 01:05 PM.
    Before you speak think about what you're trying to say.
    Who else is there to blame for miscommunication?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    8,680


    Default

    I think his tenses are fine, it was just his voice. The use of linking verbs and gerunds creates a passive voice, even though the subject remains the subject (I guess that would make it an imperfect tense, so good point there). While I know what you're saying with his use of tenses, I have a feeling that Desperado knows when to use Present Continuous vs. Present Simple, and he simply had a very passive paper instead of an active one.

    Perhaps his choice of fishing as the verb isn't quite accurate to his paper. I bet you his use of "to be" looked more like "They were being attacked by someone," instead of "someone was attacking them."

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Cascadian Exile
    Posts
    19,609


    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Free? View Post
    I'm quite surprised that so far only IamSam's (well, and mine too ;p)reply was based on grammar not some stuff from personal experience like "this just makes more sense" or what wheelchairman said. Desperado asked for grammatical help and there are definite grammar rules, so he just needs to know those rules.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English...ct_progressive Check out "Tenses" section. In your case Past continuous is the tense to use. So it should be "I was fishing for only five minutes when storm clouds were forming". But it's just a single example of sentence which includes two parallel events, you'll have to use all the tenses properly, not just past continuous, so you better learn them.
    I think you got points off because you used wrong tense and "to be" verb is like the most important thing that is connected with tenses, that's why teacher told you that you mistakenly used "to be".
    That's not surprising at all. Not everyone has a knack for grammar. In fact I would say it's not that common at all. However I wasn't giving advice by any means and that too was clear I thought.
    Quote Originally Posted by T-6005 View Post
    I do no be following, fortune prick me if I do no.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Riga, Latvia
    Posts
    3,758


    Default

    Well, it was surprising for me, I'm always under impression that my own English has some misses quite often, I really expected to see 2-3 posts that would clearly point at the grammatical problem. Yes, trashy-language is always in the web, but this thread was exactly about helping Desperado being as more correct as possible, so it was about grammar.

    Of course you weren't giving any advices :P , but you were one of only three persons who tried to help. What I was saying there was that Desperado got too few responses and half of them wasn't really useful at that point.

    Sorry, I think I just took this thing hm.. "too close to heart".
    Before you speak think about what you're trying to say.
    Who else is there to blame for miscommunication?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •