Shirley's Articles / Business Writing

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



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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Shirley is an international bestselling author. She has established herself as a leading authority in email and business writing skills. Her international bestseller Model Business Letters, Emails & Other Business Documents 7th edition sold over half a million copies worldwide and has been translated into 17 languages. Her book Email Essentials reached #2 in the USA for publishers Marshall Cavendish International. Find out more about Shirley at

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