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The Power Of Verbs

If you don’t already know about the power of verbs, it’s good that you’re reading this – because verbs are very powerful.

There is something about writing that makes us express ourselves more formally than we would do when speaking. For example, you might chat with a colleague in the staff canteen about how you are going to realise your department’s goals. But when you sit down to write a report about it, for some reason you find yourself writing about ‘the realisation of our goals’.

This habit is very common. What happens is that instead of using a verb, for example, ‘to realise’, you use the related noun, ‘realisation’. To use the correct term for this bad habit, these are called nominalisations, meaning using the noun form of verbs.

Let’s look at some more examples.

Noun phrase

the avoidance of
the improvement of
the provision of
take into consideration
undertake an analysis of

Verb

avoid
improve
provide
consider
analyse

 

Noun phrases appear all over our writing. They lengthen your sentences and they make your writing less lively, less human and more official sounding. Let’s look at some sentences now:

Noun phrase
We ensured the motivation of staff with the introduction of Learn at Lunch sessions.

Verb phrase
We motivated staff by introducing Learn at Lunch sessions’.

Noun phrase
Newton Hospital made a decision to expand its paediatric services.

Verb phrase
Newton Hospital decided to expand its paediatric services.

Noun phrase
The judge said we must take into consideration the age of the offender.

Verb phrase
The judge said we must consider the offender’s age.

When you are writing, it’s good to remember that too many noun phrases make writing very dull, and they obscure the real meaning of a sentence. Always remember the power of verbs.

 

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© 2013 Shirley Taylor.
Shirley Taylor is a recognised leading authority on business writing and communication skills. For almost 30 years she has presented keynotes and training programmes that help people and organisations boost communication skills and develop great relationships both orally and in writing. Shirley is bestselling author of 12 books, including Model Business Letters, Emails and Other Business Documents, which has sold half a million copies worldwide and has been translated into many languages. If you would like Shirley to speak at your next event, visit www.shirleytaylor.com.

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