Invite a verb to the party!

By Michael Kofi Ngongi

Some years ago, when I was living in Italy, Martini debuted a clever ad featuring American actor George Clooney. In the ad, Clooney arrives at a party, but the hosts won’t let him in when they realize he came empty-handed. Before slamming the door in his face, they admonish him, saying “no martini, no party.” Of course, Clooney, being Clooney, doesn’t stay down for long. He cheekily rings the bell again a couple of seconds later, this time armed with several cases of Martini, and is promptly welcomed in. You may be wondering what this has to do with verbs? Well, you see, the ad’s tagline applies equally to verbs: no verbs, no party.

Imagine a sentence composed of a group of nouns and pronouns, people, places, animals, concepts all lumped together. You couldn’t know what they are doing, if anything at all, because there are no verbs. Verbs are to sentences what wind is to sailboats. They enable movement and action, narratives and stories. Without them, nothing happens.

Verbs are action oriented, but they also have a sensitive side. Because verbs also convey emotions: to like, to love, to fear, etc. And, just as importantly, they describe states of being, such as to feel, to have, to need. Verbs speak to our very existence. Where would we be without the verb to be that tells us what was, what is and what could be?

So, there you have it: no verbs, no party. Of course, if you’re going to throw a party, you might as well make it memorable. So, remember that not all verbs are created equal. Some are vibrant and thrilling, with vim and swagger, while others are a bit more plodding and pedestrian. Where the former create and adorn enthralling narratives, the latter are an ode to tedium. So, choose your verbs and guests wisely, and have a great time.

Michael Kofi Ngongi is a new Canadian originally from Cameroon, another bilingual country. He has experience in international development and is a freelance writer interested in language, its usage and how it can unite or divide people.

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