I’m trying to figure how to reduce my use of words like ‘is’, ‘are’ and ‘being’.
A dog is lying on the floor.
A dog lying on the floor.
Why should I always write "A dog is lying"? I think the second one gives the same meaning and is short and sweet.
Lying is a present participle, a non-finite form (see the verb-forms tag wiki).
An independent clause (complete sentence) requires a finite verb.
- The finite forms of lie which agree with the third-person singular dog are lies (non-past) or lay (past).
- A non-finite form (infinitive lie, present participle lying, past participle lain) may be combined with a finite form of an auxiliary verb to form a finite ‘synthetic’ construction (has lain, is lying).
But a non-finite form without a finite auxiliary cannot act as the main verb in an independent clause; it can only act as a noun, adjective or preposition.
A dog lying on the floor is thus not a complete clause but only a noun phrase: the noun dog modified by the participle phrase lying on the floor acting as an adjective. The entire phrase acts as a noun within a sentence; syntactically it is no different from a yellow dog or a vicious dog.
Joe kicked [a dog lying on the floor]. … Joe kicked [a yellow dog]. … Joe kicked it.
[A dog lying on the floor] growled at me. … [A vicious dog] growled at me. … It growled at me.
If you really must avoid using the verb BE you may employ a finite form of LIE and write:
A dog lies on the floor.
But unless you are constructing a description or narrative cast throughout in the ‘present tense’, it is very unlikely that this way of saying it would be idiomatic.