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Ames's Law:

From http://www.mang.canterbury.ac.nz/writing_guide/writing/starbuck.shtml#Make

Active verbs > Adverbs > Adjectives > Nouns > Passive verbs or To Be verbs

where > stands for work better than.

Ed Ames regarded this law as a way to hold readers' interest, and he was right. Passive verbs, To Be verbs, and nouns make boring reading and they also produce verbose phrasings.

But more importantly, passive verbs and nouns seem to encourage social scientists to view themselves as passive observers, to see other people as puppets of impersonal forces, and to build static theories. Using static words to describe reality leads scientists to create static frames of reference, to view social worlds as stable, and thus to overlook dynamic events. Using active verbs and adverbs, on the other hand, subtly encourages scientists to notice changes and reactions and histories, and to see themselves as actual and potential actors.

The basic rule for converting to active phrasings is: identify the source of action and make this actor the subject of the sentence. To do this, you have to analyze causality, with the result that you may have to explicate processes that you had previously left implicit. Not only does this make your theories clearer, it also makes them more dynamic.

-- MartinCleaver - 24 Nov 2004

This has not been proven~!

-- RobSierra - 2010-06-22

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Topic revision: r5 - 2010-06-22 - RobSierra
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