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Nominalizations And Their Misuse
When your sentence sounds clumsy and you can’t figure out the reason why, always check your nominalizations. A lot of the time, it’s these hard-to-detect constructions that leave copies with that awkward finish that you can’t quite put your finger on.
Nominalizations are nouns that have been derived from adjectives and verbs. Words such as evaluation, qualification and clarity fall in this category when employed as the main subject in a sentence. Their use often entails adding more helping verbs and passive constructions into your copy to properly express ideas. As such, it can lead to dragging content that can prove confusing in parts.
Some English writing software can capably detect excessive use of nominalizations and suggest alternative ways of expressing them. However, you’ll need to watch out before triggering the change as the meaning can also be altered when it isn’t handled correctly. In fact, fixing excessive nominalizations is left difficult because most alternative ways of expressing the same ideas often involve some form of workaround.
When looking to update sentences that use nominalizations, the easiest way to get it done is often to do away with it. Instead of using the word as a noun, bring it to its original verb or adjective format and express it that way. A phrase like “my evaluation of the matter” can be altered to “I evaluated the matter;” an expression like “all participants qualified for the next course” can be written in place of “their qualifications are sufficient to make it to the next course.”
Nominalizations do have their place, though, and should only be trimmed if paragraphs read too clumsily by excessive use. As always, employ with care.