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Read the

short chapter on nominalization

and how to avoid them in your writing. Complete the Brainteaser #22 (starting on page 100) by re-typing the sixteen sentences without nominalizations. There may be more than one correct answer so find the wording you feel words best.

From: Painless Writing (3rd ed) by Jeffrey Strausser (2016)
NOMINALIZATIONS
EXPOSED!
Overusing nominalizations is a major writing flaw that creates
an extreme case of boring, stuffy writing. Because we want to
improve our writing, the first question we have to ask is: What is
a nominalization?
A nominalization is a noun derived from a verb or an adjec tive. Examples of a noun deriving from a base verb include seclusion, inference, and confinement. You can spot these verb-based
nouns by their suffixes: -ent, -ence, -ant, -ency, -ancy, -ment,
-tion, and -sion. Similarly, adjective -based nouns derive from a
base adjective. Adding the suffixes -ent, -ant, -Jul, -able converts
adjectives into nominalizations. Below are some common
nominalizations created from verb and adjective bases.
Verb
Nominalization Adjecthte Nominalization
move
thoughtful
– difficulty
excitement
excite
thoughtfulness
opulent
fail
failure
· accept
applicable
acceetance
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The following site will further
help you spot nominalizations:
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97
REDUCENOMINALIZATIONS
AND ACTIVATE YOUR WRITING
Unfortunately, many students burden their writing with
nominalizations because they mistakenly believe this writing
style is sophisticated. However, rather than leading to polished
writing, overusing nominalizations creates vague, stilted writing.
Whereas,
REDUCING NOMINALIZATIONS LIVENS UP YOUR WRITING.
Verbs create action, not nouns
Why does overusing nominalizations create vague and stilted
writing? The answer lies in the nature of nouns. A noun refers
to a person, place, quality, idea, or thing. By its very nature,
any noun or noun form cannot convey motion or action to the
reader, nor can it describe itself. As we learned in Chapter Two,
crisp and interesting writing demands well-placed verbs and
adjectives.
Why not just add some verbs and adjectives to the nominalizations to return action and description to the writing?
Unfortunately, it is not that easy because whenever you begin
inserting verbs and adjectives, wordiness, the other culprit of
bad writing, shows up. There are two ways to attach nouns to
sentences; the first way is with verbs, and the second way is with
prepositions. The writer overusing nominalizations, therefore,
must find verbs or prepositions to connect the nominalizations
in the sentence. Moreover, nominalizations’ word structures
and their typical place in the sentence promote the use of weak,
vague verbs and accompanying adverbs to buttress the weak
verb. Chapter Two demonstrated the consequences of trying to
help weak verbs with adverbs: more words, but no more action.
Notice how we can write the sentences avoiding nominalizations
and how the rewritten sentences are more active and concise.
The numbers in parentheses denote the number of words in the
sentence.
FIRST
ATTEMPT
Bob made a withdrawal of money from his bank account. (10)
BETTER
Bob withdrew money from his bank account. (7)
98
NOMINALIZATIONS EXPOSED!
FIRST
ATTEMPT
You can make application of these techniques to your writing. (10)
BETTER
You can apply these techniques to your writing. (8)
FIRST
ATTEMPT
The rubber band has a lot of elasticity. (8)
The detective is making the crime the subject of his
investigation. (11)
BETTER
The rubber band is very elastic. (6)
The detective is investigating the crime. (6)
You can avoid stuffy writing by applying this chapter’s
Painless Technique. Let’s take a look at it.
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Painless Tec~niqu~
#4:
IDENTIFY, THEN TRANSFORM UNNECESSARY NOMINALIZATIONS
INTO FORCEFUL VERBS OR DESCRIPTIVE ADJECTIVES.
Identifying nominalizations
The first part of this chapter’s
Painless Technique requires that
you identify the offending nominalizations. If you need to, review
the first part of this chapter to help
you become comfortable identifying nominalizations. Once you are
ready, try the following exercises
that test your ability to identify
nominalizations.
..
REDUCENOMINALIZATIONS AND ACTIVATE YOUR WRITING
====::..:.=–==–=–=·-~– —–==-===—:…-_-:..-:_-_·-BRAIN
TICKLERS
Set# 22
Identify and underline the nominalization in
each of the following sentences, then determine the verb or adjective root along with the
suffix used in creating that nominalization.
1. The senator had no recollection of his
campaign promise.
2. The teacher’s reaction to the news was a
negative one.
3. Each candidate is under investigation
before his nomination.
4. Many political prisoners have not had the
benefit of representation by counsel.
5. The discussion of the class was on the
field trip.
6. The mayor’s office started an investigation
into the council member’s actions.
7. The husband and wife made a renewal of
their wedding vows.
100
NOMINALIZATIONS EXPOSED!
8. The newspapers launched an attack of a
vicious nature at the candidate.
9. The induction of the baseb.all player into
the Hall of Fame took place on Friday.
10. Katie’s reaction was predictable.
11. Matthew made the suggestion that we stop
at the campsite.
12. The editorial is a reflection of the writer’s
thoughts.
13. Bob’s writing improvement astounded
everyone.
14. The carelessness of his writing was
apparent throughout the entire manuscript.
15. The general signaled for a withdrawal of
his troops .
16. By your acceptance of this check, you
agree to paint the house.
(Answers are on pages 1 16-117.)
101
REDUCENOMINALIZATIONS
AND ACTIVATE YOUR WRITING
Baggage, baggage, and more baggage
Not only does overusing nominalizations drain the life out of your
writing, but this bad writing habit
adds a lot of unnecessary words
that waste your readers’ time.
The bulk of the wordy baggage
comes from prepositional phrases
that result whenever you convert
verbs and adjectives into nouns
that become the objects of the
prepositional phrases. Examine
the sentences below that contain
nominalizations.
The boys, full of excitement,
entered the room.
····
The sentence contains the nominalization, excitement,
which also carries with it the prepositional phrase baggage,
of excitement.
The departure of the students created a chaotic scene.
This sentence contains the nominalization, departure, which
requires an accompanying wordy prepositional phrase, of the
students, to convey the writer’s thoughts.
As you can see, by writing the sentences with a nominalization, the writer needed to add a prepositional phrase. Recall the
Chapter One discussion of how using too many prepositional
phrases weakens your writing. Notice how one writing flaw can
bring on another writing flaw!
More words, less action
You should now see that dullness and wordiness result when
writers overuse nominalizations. Do the following exercise to
make sure you can spot both of these problems.
102
NOMINALIZATIONS EXPOSED!
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IN_T_I_C-K_LE
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-S===—·Set# 23
Read the following paragraph entitled The
English Teacher. Because it contains many
nominalizations, the paragraph is wordy,
yet it contains relatively few verbs. Identify
the nominalizations plaguing this passage.
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The English Teacher
The English teacher had little expectation that
her class would attain improvement in their
writing. There are few indications that what
she expects should be under reconsideration.
However, a discussion among the students
yielded a different conclusion because they
were unwilling to make an acceptance of her
conclusion. It was their decision to have a
discussion with the principal about the replacement of their teacher. They realized, nevertheless, that the principal would have a reluctance
to accept their suggestion.
(Answers are on page 118.)
103

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