Easy tips to stop the nounification of your verbs

Energize your writing with strong verbs

Two men's hands writing in a notebooks, coffee mug and laptop on wooden table
Image via Adobe Stock

Sometimes editing your writing drains your energy. Sometimes, you take a look at one long, meandering paragraph, and can only think, That’s it. It has spiraled out of control and there’s nothing more I can do. Godspeed, young paragraph. I wish you well.

It’s often helpful to step away for a day, then return to the edits. One thing you can look for when you come back, refreshed and revitalized, is what’s going on with your nouns and verbs.

Verbs are the fuel of writing, the action heroes that give sentences power and direction. When you prioritize verbs, you prioritize action, strength, activity—and energy. See? You’re already feeling perkier!

A lot of times, wordiness happens because of the nounification of verbs. Technically called nominalization, nounification is the act of transforming a perfectly strong verb into a weak noun.

We usually turn verbs into nouns by adding a suffix, which makes the word longer. For example, decide becomes decision


The verbs deflate, becoming longer and less vibrant.

But then you need other words for your sentence to make sense. You still have to add a verb, plus some articles and prepositions. Decide, which was so strong to start, becomes make a decision

VerbNounIn use
decidedecisionWe made a decision about which game to play.
promotepromotionWe arrived in time to sell a promotion for the new hair dryers.
considerconsiderationShe took everything into consideration.
managemangementThis new tool helps provide the management of your copy edits.
examineexaminationThe investigators conducted an examination of the scene.

When you could have a much stronger sentence when you emphasize the verb. We don’t have to make a decision. We can just decide.

VerbVerb in use
decideWe decided which game to play.
promoteWe arrived in time to promote the new hair dryers.
considerShe considered everything.
manageThis new tool helps you manage copy edits.
examineThe investigators examined the scene

That’s it! Energy and punch, courtesy of verbs. 

What tips do you have in your pocket to re-energize sleepy writing?

This article was reposted on Medium on March 5, 2019

Thanks for reading! Reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn, too!

Header image by @peshtov via Adobe Stock

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