Writing Tips: Replace Long Noun Phrases with Short Verbs

This is part of a series by editor Barbara McNichol to provide tips for writing like a pro.

Ever wonder how to make your sentences less verbose and more direct? This works like magic: Change long nouns to short verbs. Consider the differences in these examples from a manual:

“They remain in contradiction with themselves” vs. “They contradict themselves.”

“He made an acknowledgment of her success” vs. “He acknowledged her success.”

“We get closer to the implementation of leadership practices” vs. “We get closer to implementing leadership practices.”

In this way, you can increase readability by turning a long-winded “heavy” phrase into an active “lively” verb. What clues do you look for? Nouns ending in “ion” and “ment.”

Whatever I’m editing, I’m using this “magic” trick dozens of times a day. What a difference this one technique makes. Try it for yourself.

Your challenge: Focus on finding “ion” and “ment” words, then rewrite them using a lively verb.

Today’s Word Tripper from Word Trippers Tips:j

Comprise, compose – “Comprise” refers to the whole that has a number of parts while “compose” refers to the parts making up a whole. It’s correct to say, “The book is composed (made up) of four short stories.” It’s incorrect to say, “The book is comprised of 22 chapters.” Instead, say, “The book comprises (consists of) 22 chapters.”

When you know how to write with precision, your professional reputation builds and your career can soar. Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping business professionals add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created an annual subscription program called Word Trippers Tips. It features 52 Word Trippers of the Week, a webinar, crossword puzzle, writing tips, and the ebook Word Trippers: The Ultimate Source for Choosing the Right Word When It Really Matters. Details at www.WordTrippers.com/odi.

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