Practical E-prime Examples To Guide Your Learning

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Why would anyone try to talk like this?

Switch on the TV for any length of time, and you might notice the prevalence of the verb ‘to be’ in modern programming and marketing.  People talk like this to influence others.  Some language experts call this way of talking “Diety-mode” since it can come across authoritatively, domineering, and tyrannical.

E-prime Examples for Greetings

Greetings don’t necessarily need our attention, so far as, modifying to E-prime equivalents.  They can often translate as a simple acknowledgment, and not literal.  The classic “Hi! How are you?” demonstrates this.  We implicitly understand the simple hello, even though it sounds like an inquiry into our daily affairs.  “How’s life?” can easily get a response of “Hey! How you doing?” as both parties acknowledge the presence of the other.  Whether or not a greeting goes further to a conversation, just depends on our busy schedules.

Also, greetings sometimes drift out of formal grammar, and no one takes issue.  So, greetings might not make the best place to work on translating to E-prime.

Still, if you like the idea of translating things to E-prime, or getting unstuck from unconscious language habits, you can always use the following examples and see what you think!

Standard Greeting: “Hello, my name is Jones. How are you?”
E-prime Greeting: “Hello, Jones here. How do you do?”

E-prime Greeting:  “Hello Jessica, I see you there!”
E-prime Greeting:  “How did your weekend go, Jack?”

You can also just make eye contact and offer a friendly wave.
What favorite expression do you offer your acquaintances and familiar faces when you notice them in public?

Translating to E-prime when Reflecting Others

Translating to E-prime as you reflect someone can subtly offer a more flexible situation for what someone reports as fixed and unchangeable.  Take as an example the following:

Speaker: “I am totally worthless, and no one likes me.”
Listener: “You feel undervalued and like people avoid you.”

I think “being totally worthless” and “feeling undervalued” offer two very different outlooks.  When I counseled individuals suffering various symptoms of depressed thinking, it didn’t surprise me that they heavily relied on the verb ‘to be’ while reporting their conditions.  Their phrasing often painted bleak circumstances and didn’t seem very accurate to me.  I wondered how many times a day they might repeat the same inaccurate statement to themselves.  Anyone who gains some flexibility in the way they speak can translate these negative ruminations into more accurate E-prime statements. Often the translations will shed some light on new areas for improvement, where the old statement left little hope.

Active Voice Speaking Complies with E-prime

If you want the easiest way to speak in E-prime without needing to proof-read your statements, just speak in the active voice.