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  • Melanie Sampson

Short and Sweet: An Overview of Nominalization


You can complete the application online.


The team will issue a decision by the end of May.


We will continue to ensure that everyone can get food.


What do all of these sentences have in common? They feel a bit detached from the reader and have extra words that aren't necessarily needed.



Writing More Directly

In academic writing, it’s common to create more distance between yourself and your reader. During that process, we can easily add more words through a process called nominalization. Basically we make words such as verbs and adjectives into nouns, usually by adding a suffix.

Think:

complete → completion

happy → happiness.

Then we layer those concepts in sentences with other actions.


It’s not wrong to use these forms. It just depends on who you are talking to and what you want to say. But, if you want to be more concise in your writing, notice if this issue seems familiar.


Let’s look at those examples from the beginning and see what they look like when we are more direct:

You can complete the application online. → You can apply online. OR Apply online.

The team will issue a decision by the end of May. → We will decide by May 31.

We will continue to ensure that everyone can get food. → We will make sure you can get food.


Get nominalization on your radar. Tighten up your writing and make it easier to understand.


Bonus:

Writing a grant with limited characters? Check for extra-long phrases like the ones we talked about here — it might save you a lot of time and trouble!

#words #plainlanguage #sentencestructure


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