Put the Subject where it Belongs – In the Beginning


The runaway horse was ridden back into town by an old, white-whiskered rancher


The old, white-whiskered rancher rode the runaway horse back into town. 

Who is doing the action?

The rancher!

So why is he at the end of the sentence?  


Much better!


The grocery store was robbed by two armed men.


Two armed men robbed the grocery store. 

Who is doing the action?

The two men!

So why are they at the end of the sentence?  


Much better!


Higher and higher the biplane was flown by the old pilot. 


Higher and higher the old pilot flew the biplane.

Who is doing the action?

The old pilot!

So why is she at the end of the sentence?  


Much better!


Now you’ve moved the subject to the beginning of the sentence –

Look what it does to the verbs!


The eating of apple pie is an activity greatly enjoyed by Jim. 

Jim greatly enjoys eating apple pie. 

One can easily see that a situation of physical conflict is occurring between Mike and Bill. 

Mike and Bill fought viciously. 

Just putting the subjects at the beginning of the sentences has strengthened them.  The sentences have changed verbs from is – the weakest verb in the English Language – to something much more interesting.



The sentences below are based on weak verbs.  Many of them are passive.  Rewrite them so that they use strong verbs as in the examples above.   

1.     This sentence is in need of an active verb. 

2.     The security guard’s job is to be at the site and be observant.

3.     Satisfaction is the most obvious of consequences of a job well done. 

4.     He is one of those people who are always running away from a challenge.

5.     A challenge will always make him running away.

6.     Snowmobile safety is instructed by a man on Mackinac Island

7.     Action is in high demand in motion pictures and television, according to today’s audiences. 

8.     Both Jack and Cindy’s stables have nice people who are employed there. 

9.     The Deer Hunting Game is very popular with many people at the Village Inn.

Try some harder ones!

10. Frozen breads and frozen pastry completed the process of depriving the American woman of the pleasure of baking her own bread.

11. The printing of documents on the color printer is not permissible without having first obtained the required permission. 

12. The manner in which behavior is first shown in a conflict situation may become so habitual that it is often permanent long after the conflict is over. 

13. The mopping of floors is an undertaking that can often by seen being performed by Donna early in the morning, which is in addition to the carrying out of her usually duties as school cook. 

14. I think that all I can usefully say on this point is that of the three classes of information, social anthropologists in the normal course of their professional activities are usually concerned with the third class of information and the other two are treated as though they did not exist.