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Shorten Verb Phrases

Today, we will shorten up our verb phrases. If a verb phrase has two or more words, see if you can shorten it. The biggest offending phrase is “be able to.” This includes would be able to, would have been able to, and will be able to. Consider replacing those phrases with can or could.


  • Stacey would have been able to buy the book if she hadn’t lost her money. 15 words
  • Stacey could have bought the book if she hadn’t lost her money. 12 words

It says the same thing clearer and with fewer words.

Your Assignment

Use your find tool and type in “able to” and see how many phrases you can shorten.

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