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.
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.
|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.
Copyright notice for Writing Tips Plus
© His Majesty the King in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Public Services and Procurement
A tool created and made available online by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada
Search by related themes
Want to learn more about a theme discussed on this page? Click on a link below to see all the pages on the Language Portal of Canada that relate to the theme you selected. The search results will be displayed in Language Navigator.
- Date modified: