My teacher does not like "to-be verbs" (is, are, etc.) to be used in our sentences. Here is the section in question:

A significant scene in the novel is after...

How can I replace the 'is' in the sentence?

  • 2
    Too short to be an answer, but how about "occurs", "happens" or "takes place"? Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 8:23
  • 1
    Or comes, depending on the usage.
    – J.G.
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 12:39

2 Answers 2


"The novel creates a significant emotional impact on the reader in the third scene when the main character... "

Active Versus Passive

Most likely your teacher is attempting to steer you away from weaker passive statements and toward stronger active writing.

To move away from passive toward active writing try to think of action verbs.

Passive Fun was had by all.

Active The whole team ran and played games and everyone enjoyed the activities.

Generally active language is more descriptive too.


To find active verbs just think of the nouns in your sentences as doing things.

For example I changed the sentence to:

Novel creates...

Now the novel (noun) is doing something. This is in contrast to your nouns simply being something.

Edit 2

Adding some additional specific examples.

Poor: The car was cool.

Ask yourself, why someone would think the car was cool.

Better: The '69 Mustang roared down the raceway as onlookers shouted.

Poor: The horse is calm.

Ask yourself, why do you believe the horse is calm.

Better: The horse continued to chew grass while the vet administered the innoculation.

Poor: The book is boring

Ask yourself why you think the book is boring.

Better: The book failed to keep my interest. The author used sloppy sentence structure and little detail which confused me and did nothing to further my understanding.

  • Thank you, but how I don't know how I can use an action verb in that particular scenario, which is why I'm confused. Could you suggest some or direct me towards a source where I can find some? Thanks! :)
    – galanova
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 2:45
  • I added an edit to help you to learn how to examine the sentence structure.
    – raddevus
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 12:53

A significant scene in the novel occurs after ...


A significant scene in the novel takes place after ...


A significant scene in the novel follows [the previous reference action] ...

All of these will read the same way; A follows B, A occurs after B, A takes place after B, etc. There are probably many ways to say "First X, then Y".

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