LawProse Lesson #288: To Be or Not to Be.

Know what? You use is, are, was, and were more than any other verbs. You shrink from thinking of stronger verbs. You subconsciously besplatter your pages with inert verbs that squat or prostrate themselves. They do almost nothing. They occasionally flail, they swat at ideas, but mostly they just slumber.

So if you want to brighten your style, start with your verbs. Spruce them up. Tweak them. Ponder this.

In Part 3 of Bryan Garner’s forthcoming ten-part webinar series, Legal Writing in Plain English, you’ll learn how to enhance your command of English vocabulary. You’ll learn skills mastered by the best legal writers: avoiding jargon, using strong verbs, and simplifying wordy phrases.

Further reading:

Legal Writing in Plain English 48–49 (2d ed. 2013).
The Winning Brief 256–58 (3d ed. 2014).

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