"It was found that the background linguistic system (in other words, the grammar) of each language is not merely a reproducing instrument for voicing ideas but rather is itself the shaper of ideas, the program and guide for the individual's mental activity, for his analysis of impressions, for his synthesis of his mental stock in trade."
E-Prime comprises standard English with all forms of the verb 'TO BE' deleted; its use prevents forms of the verb 'TO BE' creating erroneous and irrational generalisations in language and thought
X says that, X believes, X asserts that, In X's opinion, X hold's the view, In X's view, X assumes that, In X's appreciation, In X's understanding, X perceives that, In X's perception, X insists that, X claims, From X's point of view, X said yesterday that, X pronounces that, X pronounced that, X holds that, X holds the opinion that, X has pronounced that, X thinks that, X has the view that, X maintains that, X affirms that, X made it known that, X maintains that, X asserts that, X alleges that, X suggests that, X imagines that, X estimates that, In X's estimation, X claims that, X observes that, According to X, X declares that, X has declared that, In X's observation, X observes that, X contends that, X has argued that
accords with, acts like, acts as if, represents, resembles, seems like, simulates, apes, approaches, approximates, approximates to, behaves like, smells like, sounds like, symbolises, takes after, tallies with, tastes like, typifies, caricatures, coincides with, compares with, conforms with, copies, correlates with, corresponds to, corresponds with, cross maps to, depicts, duplicates, emulates, epitomises, equals, equates to, illustrates, imitates, impersonates, likens to, looks like, matches, means, echoes, mirrors, models, moves like, paraphrases, passes for, performs like, portrays, poses like, reflects, acts in the manner of, postures in the style of, imitates the behaviour of, behaves in the manner of, has the attributes of, behaves in like manner to, can be modelled upon, demonstrates the behaviour of, echoes the behaviour of, manoeuvres in the style of, patterns itself on, matches that of, can be modelled as, employs tactics like, follows the pattern of, follows the behaviour of, follows the same patterns as, follows the path of, has the attributes of, has similar characteristics to, has the same characteristics as, has some of the same characteristics as, reflects the behaviour of, replicates the behaviour of, has some of the characteristics of (Non-exhaustive list.)
behaves, acts, depicts, displays, echoes, emulates, exemplifies, feels, illustrates, indicates, looks, mimics, mirrors, models, personifies, portrays, appears, reflects, replicates, represents, seems, associates with, symbolises, acts like, acts as if, behaves as if, appears as if it, behaves like, comes across as, comes over as, correlates with, cross maps to, demonstrates the qualities of, demonstrates, demonstrates the characteristics of, evokes in me the perception of, exhibits the form of, falls in the category of, gives me the sensation of, gives the impression of, gives the image of, has the semblance of, has the qualities of, has the properties of, impresses me as, looks like, looks like, shows signs of, shows the features of, shows up as, shows the criterion of, simulates, sounds like, stands for, takes the form of, takes the shape of (Non-exhaustive list.)
The dog is a menace.becomes... Joe says that the dog behaves like a menace
.'It is raining'
..'The dog is walking across the field'
..'The man is using a pencil'
..'I am working'
..'Joe was watching TV'
..'The dog walks across the field'
..'The man uses a pencil'
..'Joe watched TV'
..'It continues raining'
..or 'It continues to rain'
..or 'It rains continually'
..'The dog keeps on walking across the field'
..'The man persists in using a pencil'
..'I will keep on working'
..'Joe carried on watching TV'
a) Not 'Jones is a...' but 'Jones acts like a...'
..b) Not 'I am...' but 'I feel...'
..c) Not 'It is...' but 'It looks...'
..'Bush is President of the USA'
..How did he get there? Process of election marred in corruption.
..When did he get elected? Nov 1st 2001
..Who elected him? Blackboxes, punch counters, supreem court
..'The people of the USA didn't ELECT Bush President for four years in...'
The process word 'elected' gets rid of the 'is' and tells us what actually went on, tells us about the PROCESS that took/continues to take place. By using that word, we also get to refer to the doer in the process - i.e. 'The people of the USA,' played a vital part. Bush no longer 'is' President - as if cast in stone eternally - once we discover the underlying process variables.
..'The car is damaged'
..How did the car get damaged?
..Who damaged it? (or did it damage itself?)
..What form does the damage take?
..When did it happen to get damaged?
..'I drove the car into a wall and dented the front nearside wing last night'
Process words 'drove' and 'dented' displace the 'is' form - a form that could imply that the fairies came along in the middle of the night and inflicted the said damage with magic wands. Note the undeletion of the doer - 'I' - in the process version of events.
..a) 'Is business satisfactory?' (measuring 'business')
..b) 'I wish I was ten pounds lighter' (measuring weight)
..c) 'What size are your hips?' (measuring girth/distance)
..d) 'Is this dress the right size for you, Fred?' (measuring 'fit')
..e) 'It's miles to Tipperary' (measuring distance)
..f) 'The aircraft is travelling at Mach 1.6' (measuring speed/velocity)
..a) Smith asked: "How many units have you SOLD this week?"
..b) I wish I WEIGHED ten pounds less
..c) She asked: "What do you MEASURE around the hips?"
..d) "Does this dress FIT you, Fred?" I ventured.
..e) Smith says the distance from here to Tipperary MEASURES two miles.
..f) I MEASURED the speed of the aircraft as Mach 1.6
..a) Joe Bloggs is a pig
.Joe bloggs seems like a pig (to me)
..b) The electron is a wave
.The electron is like a wave (in my view)
..c) The Zygonwis are heathens
.The Zyngonwis are like heathens (in Rev Smith's opinion)
..a) Joe Bloggs is stupid
.To me, Joe Bloggs seems stupid
..b) The rose is love
.The rose appears as love to me
..c) The radiator is hot
.The radiator seems hot to Sylvia
..d) The rose is red
.To Shakespeare, the rose seemed red
The trap takes the form of a temptation to immediately introduce a form of the 'to be' verb - for example 'In my view, the dog IS a lazy...' Again, the tendency to use this form lies in habit. Practice - and the use of ACTIVE VERBS immediately after the first noun phrase - will assist in overcoming this. The English language contains thousands of verbs that will serve as'active' verbs, a suitable one for any particular sentence can usually be found with a bit of effort. In difficult cases, the reader should seek out a dictionary or thesaurus - or consider recasting the offending sentence altogether.
Short List of Active Verbs
appears, seems, looks, behaves, walks, smells, tastes, have, get, sounds, feels, works, dreams, hurts, walks, contains, follows, seeks, stands, sits, gives, takes, runs, bubbles, drags, warms, grows, listens, loves, runs, lies, asks, blames, bends, cleans, heats, cools, brings, start, commence, demonstrates, leaves, verifies, avoids, believes, represents, works, radiates, releases, causes, speaks, expects, creates, makes, resembles, duplicates, provides, seems similar to, moves, accords with, acts like, acts as if, represents, come, resembles, wallows, rises, whines, proves, seems like, simulates, stop, apes, approaches, agree, realises, shows, scents, denies, aggrees with, embodies, describes, knows, ignores, understands, defines, clarifies, informs, hides, reveals, approximates, approximates to, behaves like, smells like, sounds like, symbolises, takes after, tallies with, tastes like, typifies, caricatures, coincides with, compares with, conforms with, copies, correlates with, corresponds to, corresponds with, cross maps to, depicts, duplicates, emulates, epitomises, equals, equates to, illustrates, imitates, impersonates, likens to, looks like, matches, means, echoes, mirrors, models, moves like, paraphrases, passes for, performs like, portrays, poses like, reflects
Note that the above lists represent a 'starter package' suitable for use with either spoken or written forms. The reader should cut and paste them and add his/her preferred forms as developed/required.
..a) How are you?
How goes it? How has it been going recently?
..b) Is Smith there?
Can I speak to Smith? Tell Smith to report to me. Kindly connect me with Smith.
..c) Where is Z?
Tell me the whereabouts of Z. Where can I find Z? Kindly direct me to Z.
Consider the forms of the verb 'to be': 'be', 'been', 'is', 'are', 'am', 'was', and 'were'. Semanticists have long recognized that these words contribute to imprecision of expression, ambiguity, and even logical mistakes. Some advocate eliminating all verbs of being, all forms of the 'is' of identity and the 'is' of predication. The resulting "purified" English carries the name "E-prime."
You can't pose stupid questions like "What is the meaning of life?" or "Who am I?" Most poetry cannot be rewritten in E-prime. You can't utter philosophical pseudoprofundities like "I think, therefore I am." I consider these beneficial results strongly argue in favor of the adoption of E-prime. Throw out "My love is like a red, red rose." Such constructions encourage vague, imprecise, misleading, ambiguous, and foolish writing masquerading as profundity.
Even without the extreme remedy of completely adopting E-prime, the underlying principle of avoidance of 'be' forms can benefit anyone's writing. For an exercise, select something you have written, then rewrite it in E-prime. As you rework the sentences to remove the 'be' forms, you will discover, perhaps to your surprise, that the new version gains clarity and vigor. You'll discover exactly how the 'be' words contributed to flabbiness of expression. In some cases a 'be' word may not appear explicitly, but still lurks in hiding, implicitly present in the thought. You will, of course, not allow yourself that manner of cheating!