Words In Action

Posted: July 8, 2016 in Words and communications
Tags: , , ,

A friend of mine has become interested in training her dog some tricks. The poor creature is up in years and not really that obedient to start with. I recently spent the greater part of an hour watching my friend try to get her dog to understand commands such as: to sit, to heel, to roll over, to jump. All to no avail. I finally chimed in “maybe you should just ask her ‘to snuggle’?”

This encounter got me to thinking about verbs. I realized that dog training relies almost exclusively on the use of verbs! It became an invitation to pay attention to the verbs, the everyday words, which are part of our lives.

Verbs are the workhorses of our sentences. They are the actors that propel the elements of a sentence forward. No wonder that children, when learning sentence structure in school, are told that verbs are “action words”. To hug, to cook, to drive, to exercise, to teach, to learn, to work, to play, to rest, are just a few of the thousand in our language that come to mind.

For example, some of the richest language is found in the Bible and verbs play an important part especially in the Psalms. God strengthens, satisfies, proclaims, blesses. This describes one heck of an active God, always moving to bring good.

Secular writers, in whose books characters come alive, also know how select and make the best use of verbs. Thumb through your favorite book and see how it was the verbs that gave the story momentum and the characters color.

Verbs enrich not only our speech but also our lives. Let them start you on the path to paying attention to words. Then like training a dog, you will be training your mind to focus on the beauty of our language. In an abbreviated world of text messages and tweets we easily can miss that beauty. We try so hard to cram communications into the shortest possible structure that instead of building a palace we create a dilapidated doghouse!

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