Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Don't smother verbs.

A buried, or smothered, verb is a nominalized verb. It buries the action of a sentence in a noun. The examples below show how to resurrect them, making the sentence less abstract and more concise.

We had a discussion about the matter with the staff director.
We discussed the matter with the staff director.

She issued an announcement that the program would begin at seven o'clock.
She announced that the program would begin at seven o'clock.

The company will not claim ownership of the stock.
The company will not own the stock.

We gave a report of the incident to the captain.
We reported the incident to the captain.

Most nominalized verbs are Latinate nouns. That is, they came into English from Latin (usually through the French) rather than from Anglo-Saxon. These words usually end in -tion, -ive, -ment, -ance, or -ence.

Nominalized verbs are often introduced by make, do, give, have, has, had, having, provide, or perform, so challenge these verbs to check for nominalizations smothering verbs.

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