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Writing Workshop

In “Make-or-Break Verbs,” an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times, Constance Hale, a San Francisco-based journalist, illustrates the difference between active verbs and passive verbs. She also delineates several other categories of verbs, including “wimp” verbs, existential verbs, power verbs and sensing verbs.

NYT graphicFor example, Hale notes, “Sportscasters and announcers must be masters of dynamic verbs, because they endlessly describe the same thing while trying to keep their readers and listeners riveted.

“We’re not just talking about a player who singles, doubles or homers,” she continues. “We’re talking about, as announcers described during the 2010 World Series, a batter who ‘spoils the pitch’ (hits a foul ball), a first baseman who ‘digs it out of the dirt’ (catches a bad throw) and a pitcher who ‘scatters three singles through six innings’ (keeps the hits to a minimum).

Good stuff, that. And, seriously, don’t you want to know what a “wimp verb” is?


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