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Lights. Camera. Action!

How many times have we all heard the three classic film words: Lights, camera, action! For me, it was 42 or 43 times. How about you? What? Are you going to tell  me you don’t keep track of stuff like that? Really? It’s just me?

For the most part, the word action serves as a noun.

For one, if you launch a civil lawsuit against someone, the legal proceeding is referred to as an action. Don’t be surprised if the defendant is unhappy with you for doing so. If your suit is vexatious, don’t be surprised if the defendant is exceptionally unhappy with you and takes you off his or her Christmas card list.

Action can also mean movement or the act of making an effort. Be careful, though. Spaces matter. If you are in action, means that you are moving or making some sort of effort. If, on the other hand, you are said to be exhibiting inaction, that means the opposite.

You can also be, “in on the action.” That means that you are in the inner circle that is able to participate in some activity, usually an activity that directly or indirectly involves cash flows. In such situations, there are often two types of people, people who are in on the action and suckers. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which is better.

Action can also refer to military action. Being a coward, I don’t want to see action in this sense. I turned draft age during the Vietnam war, but, fortunately, I was born, raised and have lived all of my life in Canada. So I wasn’t drafted. Instead, I set up a stand at the border and sold lemonade to draft dodgers. I felt proud to do my part in the war effort.

“The action” can also refer to the exciting parts in a book or film. If they have no exciting parts then why the hell are you wasting your time?

The dictionary I’m using, The New Penguin English Dictionary (1986) says that action can also be a verb, but you have to work hard to make it so. (For the record, dictionary didn’t say you have to work hard to make it so. I added that.)

To use action as a verb you have to say something like “take action on,” which means to implement. At least, that’s the example given by the dictionary. I don’t see how action in that context is a verb. Take is the verb. Action is, to my mind, the thing, i.e., the noun, that you are taking.

So, if that’s the only example the dictionary can come up with, then I would argue that, contrary to what the dictionary states, action cannot be used as a verb. Then again, I’m not a lexicographer or grammarian, so what do I know?

Fight it out among yourselves. Or, if, like me, you’re not interested, then don’t worry about it. Trust me. I worry about pretty much everything, but I’m not planning to worry about whether action can be a verb.

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