Bitesize STE – Essentials 2: Verbs  

Bitesize STE is written by Mekon’s Simplified Technical English trainer Ciaran Dodd.

Since issue 7 of the ASD-STE100 Simplified Technical English (STE) specification came out in January, I have read it thoroughly while I updated our two-day Introduction to STE course. As part of the course, we review some essentials of grammar that you have to know to understand the rules of STE. In the next few issues of Bitesize, we’ll look at these essentials and explain why you need to know them in order to write well in STE.

We’ll also explain any changes in issue 7, 2017.

What is a verb?

 In STE, a verb is defined as:

 verb (v): A word that describes a state of being or an action. Its tense (present, past, future) tells you when the action occurs.” (2-0-4, ASD-STE100, 2017)

There are two main categories of verbs: main and auxiliary (helping). Main verbs stand alone and auxiliary verbs go before main verbs to express possibility or obligation (might or must). Main verbs are split into action verbs (do, put) and state verbs (be, have). Different verb forms can express the time an action takes place (tense) or who or what did the action (voice).

In English grammar, the rules on verbs are very complex and many rules do not exist in other languages. For these reasons, the verbs that you can use and how you use them are simplified in STE.

Verbs in STE – what you need to know

  1.  Some words can be verbs and another part of speech, like a noun. For example, we usually use ‘damage’ as a verb, but STE permits ‘damage’ as a noun only. You need to be able to categorise a word as a particular part of speech.
  2. Some words can be technical verbs if you can fit them in to an appropriate category, for example a manufacturing process. Again you need to know if the word that you want to use is a verb to do this
  3. Section 3 contains the rules on verbs and how to use them in STE. Technical verbs must also follow these rules. Section 3 tells you which forms of verb you can or must use: infinitive, imperative, simple present, simple past, past participle as an adjective and future tense. For example, you start procedural steps with a verb in the imperative or command form: Install the filter.

You cannot use the -ing form of the verb unless it is part of a technical name or the title in a procedure. So you cannot write: When cleaning the filter…, but the title of the procedure could be: Cleaning the filter.

  1. STE prefers the active voice: A hit B rather than B was hit by A, which is the passive voice.
  2. Safety instructions (such as warnings and cautions) must start with a simple and clear command, so again you need to know the command form of verbs.

This summarises the key uses of verbs in STE. There are rules on verbs in virtually all of the 9 sections of rules. Therefore, it is important that you can define a verb and apply the relevant rules to write correctly in STE.

Next month, we discuss nouns.

Looking for Simplified Technical English (STE) Training?

Book your place on one of our Simplified Technical English training courses. Our Simplified Technical English Training course is a practical introduction for those who will use Simplified Technical English (formerly AECMA Simplified English).

The course introduces the philosophy of Simplified Technical English, explains the underlying grammatical principles and gives delegates opportunities to use Simplified Technical English in practical exercises. These exercises can be based on your company’s documentation.

Find out more about our Simplified Technical English Specification: ASD-STE100 training delivered by Ciaran or email .

About Ciaran

“Who is your audience and what do they need?”

“How do you meet those needs efficiently, cost effectively and to a high standard?”

Ciaran Dodd has been ensuring that clients address both of these questions using ASD Simplified Technical English (ASD-STE100) since 2002, after being trained by the United Kingdom’s ASD-STE100 co-ordinator in 2001. Ciaran started her career in training at Rolls-Royce, which is where she became involved in training all aspects of writing, including ASD-STE100. After leaving the organisation, Ciaran set up an independent consultancy specialising in communication and learning skills. She has extensive experience of working with major names in engineering; particularly in defence aerospace and the automotive industries.

Ciaran is a qualified trainer, teacher and teacher of English as a foreign language. After completing a law degree at Cambridge University, she taught English in a Chinese university for two years. She has taught all aspects of the English language in commercial and public organisations since 1994.