How needless verbs weaken your meaning

Auxiliary verbs, we were taught in grade school, can clarify your writing, but is that always true? Let’s consider ways that they muddy the linguistic waters.

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Verbs to use

“Helper” verbs can hinder your writing.

In grammar school (appropriately enough), we learned about auxiliary verbs, which were offered as “helper” verbs.

Those include verb forms that change the tense:

Many writers use ancillary verbs to accompany main verbs, much as one might accompany the harp with a sousaphone, and with similar effect: muddying the clarity of the primary focus.

Consider these constructions:

In the first, “They were able to finish the project,” beyond the needless extra keystrokes, clarity suffers.

Ability doesn’t necessitate execution, after all.

Consider this:

I am able to peel and eat a banana.

That will never happen, I assure you. I abhor bananas; I find them utterly repugnant.

Better would be, “They finished the project.” They could not have finished it without the ability to do so. It’s also concise, strong and certain.

Let’s look at the other examples:

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