Is, Are, Was, Were

The various forms of the verb “to be” are the weakest verbs you can possibly choose when writing sentences. Big deal, something exists. Unless you are some kind of existentialist philosopher (not many of those in the Oil Business), you should use a verb that’s loaded with

Namby-Pamby Examples:
There is a well near the highway that needs a workover.
It is important to make sure that the valves are closed before you begin.
There were three options for completing this well.

Stronger, Active Examples:
A well near the highway needs a workover.
Make sure the valves are closed before you begin.

Three options for completing this well included: …

As part of the 10-year Cain Project, sponsored by the Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation, graduate students in science and engineering at Rice University here in Houston generated a wonderful list of strong, active verbs that can help you make your technical writing more precise and persuasive. Bookmark this link, and refer to it whenever you find yourself
falling into the namby-pamby verb rut.

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To be, or not to be? That is the question.
The answer: That depends. (A verb I definitely would add to the Cain Project list.)


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