clear communication: turn nouns into verbs

(A similar topic is discussed in French in the article Communication claire : remplacez les noms par des verbes.)

Here are three pitfalls to avoid if you want to make your texts easy to read and to understand.

Noun-heavy sentences

The use of verbs as replacements for nouns helps in the development of a simple style of writing. Yikes! That sentence may be grammatically correct, but it sounds awkward and doesn’t make much sense at first glance.


That sentence is made up mostly of nouns. Count them: use, verbs, replacements, nouns, development, style and writing. That’s 7 nouns in an 18-word sentence! No wonder it’s so hard to read.


If you replace some of those nouns with verbs, the sentence automatically becomes clearer:

  • Replacing nouns with verbs helps you develop a simple style of writing.

And you can take it one step further for an even easier read:

  • Replacing nouns with verbs simplifies your writing.  

Hidden verbs and noun clusters

By drawing out the hidden verbs, you also eliminate the clusters of nouns that can make your message muddy.

For example, you can start with a sentence like this:

  • This document will help in the development, implementation, evaluation and revision of new policy strategies.

And turn it into something like this:

  • This document will help you develop, implement, evaluate and revise new policy strategies.

Generic verbs followed by a noun

If a sentence contains a verb like be, give, have, make or take, followed by a noun, you can probably cut out those generic verbs and turn the noun into the main verb.

Here are a few noun-heavy verb phrases that you can cut down to a single verb.

Examples of expressions that should be turned into verbs
Instead of Use
be able; have the ability can
conduct an analysis analyze
give a description describe
give a presentation present
give your authorization authorize
have the intention intend; plan
make a change change
make a decision decide
make a promise promise
make a recommendation recommend
make an attempt attempt
offer a suggestion suggest
take under consideration consider

If you start turning nouns into verbs, your writing will become more direct and your message clearer.

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