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            Nominalizations

Nominalizations are verbs or other parts of speech that are transformed into nouns.  Nominalizations often create wordiness and, as a result, should be limited.  When nominalizations are used, they should be used purposefully.


Compare the following sentences.   

         The police conducted an investigation of the crime.

         The police investigated the crime.

While the first sentence is eight words, the

second sentence, which has the same

meaning, is only five words.  The second

sentence is a better sentence because it is

more direct.  The second sentence is more direct because the verb investigate  is clearer and more precise than the verb conduct.  One way to write better sentences is to choose the clearest and most precise verbs as possible.  


Below are more examples of weak sentences with ambiguous verbs and nominalizations and examples of stronger sentences with clear, precise verbs.    

          The doctors performed an operation on the accident victim.       (9 words)

          The doctors operated on the accident victim.                           (7 words)


          I found a solution to the problem.                                                  (7 words)

          I solved the problem.                                                                      (4 words)


          Irma made the decision to withdraw from the course.                  (9 words)

          Irma decided to withdraw from the course.                                   (7 words)

          Irma withdrew from the course.                                                     (5 words)


            Mrs. Watson finds enjoyment in taking walks after dinner.         (9 words)

          Mrs. Watson enjoys taking walks after dinner.                               (7 words)


          Our class had a discussion about the poem's possible meanings.    (10 words)

          Our class discussed the poem's possible meanings.                          (7 words)


Writers and speakers should limit nominalizations; writers and speakers should not eliminate nominalizations altogether.  A verb in one sentence might be nominalized to become the subject of the following sentence.  Used this way, nominalizations will help bridge the ideas of the two sentences.

          The doctors operated on the accident victim.  The operation lasted over five hours.


          I solved the problem.  The solution might surprise you.


          Irma decided to withdraw from the course.  Her decision angered her parents.


          Our class discussed the poem's possible meanings.  The discussion helped me

          understand the poem better than I had understood it before.