Are your reports clear, concise and contemporary? Or do they tend to get bogged down in too many words? There are many ways to make your writing easier and faster to read. One quick way is to watch out for nominalisations (where verbs have been changed into nouns).
A noun is a person, place or thing. Nouns can be concrete (something physical) or abstract (something we can’t see, touch, taste, hear or smell). An abstract noun is still a thing but it’s something we understand or imagine, such as a review, or an investigation.
Converting abstract nouns into verbs
For a complete sentence, we must have a verb. For example, in the sentence ‘We will conduct an investigation into the cause of the accident’, the verb is ‘conduct’. Although the sentence is grammatically correct, we can rephrase it by making ‘investigation’ the verb; for example, ‘We will investigate the cause of the accident.’ You could also simply say, ‘We will investigate the accident.’
Compare the following examples:
We will give consideration to your proposal for the provision of landscaping services for the transformation of the vacant lot. (20 words)
We will consider your proposal to provide landscaping services to transform the vacant lot. (14 words)
We will consider your proposal to landscape the vacant lot. (10 words)
Becoming more aware of abstract nouns is the first step to reducing nominalisations. Familiarise yourself with the following common wordy phrases that use abstract nouns. When you find them in your writing, replace them with the verb.
|shows a preference for||prefers|
|it is our intention to||we intend|
|the implementation of||implement|
|undertake a review||review|
|the completion of||complete|
|the redevelopment of||redevelop|
|bring to a conclusion||conclude|
Notice how often the word ‘of’ appears in the phrases in the left-hand column. This is a red flag that can alert you to unnecessary wordiness.
Small changes like converting abstract nouns into verbs can have a huge impact on your writing. Not only will your writing sound more action-oriented and contemporary, your communications will be more concise.