The death of the verb to be

vintage TV

It’s been almost 20 years since I first noticed. The first TV anchor I noticed using partial phrases in lieu of complete sentences was Shepard Smith of Fox News. Maybe he started it, maybe he didn’t, but it remains an irritating distraction, and the practice has gone on so long that now it’s ingrained in the news-writing culture.

A generation growing up with the mistaken belief that this is a complete sentence.

I think the practice was started to effect some sort of headline-speak. It certainly wasn’t to save time and use language more economically. Reporters saving only a nano-second by not using the word “are” where it belongs in this sentence.

Perhaps, metaphysically, by not using the various forms of the verb “to be,” they are making a statement about the nature of being, of existence. By not saying “is,” “are,” “it is,” “you are,” “they are,” etc., they question reality itself.

That, however, is probably assigning too much credit to those who first condoned and enabled this usage.

Easier calling it just bad writing.

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4 Comments

  1. Ha, my English teacher told me the same thing as I resorted to an obscure book of nothingness. Then a girl who liked me gave me her speech. I read her words well, out to the class, with binder-twine for a belt. And old jeans, because of being so poor at the time.The English teacher gave me a good score because of reading it well off of another student. I miss. I miss Joy Kolb. You always wish you did something different throughout life.

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  2. I have never watched, and will never watch, Fox News. Even when they had Megyn Kelly I would not turn that station on, and that’s saying something, especially when you consider how shallow I used to be.

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    1. You don’t need to watch Fox News to experience this phenomenon. The report that sent me over the edge this time was on ABC. Authorities searching for the answers why a bus crash killed a kid and injured others, while I, sadly distracted by the reporter’s absent grammar, waiting at home for an actual verb.

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