Summing Up: The Bones of a Sentence
1. Whenever you can, use specific verbs, adverbs, or adjectives rather than abstract nouns to express actions and conditions.
For example, the intention of the committee is the encouragement if improvement in company morale.
This committee intends to improve company morale.
2. Don't feel constrained to change nominalizations into verbs or adjectives on the following occasions:
A. The nominalization is close to the end of the sentence or clause and you already have a strong verb:
There is a need on our part for your cooperation.
We need your cooperation.
B. The nominalization sums up an idea in a preceding sentence:
Analyses of this kind invariably produce results that are misleading.
C. Eliminating a nominalization would require a phrase beginning with the fact that or a what-clause:
His presence was a factor in our decision.
NOT: the fact that he was present was a factor in what we decided.
3. Generally, try to make the specific agent of an action the subject. This often means avoiding nominalizations and passives:
A refusal in your part to accept the decision will be reviewed committtee-wise.
If you refuse to accept the decision, the committee will review your action.
4. Don't feel constrained to change passives into actives under these conditions:
A. The agent is irrelevant:
When a house is adequately insulated, the owner will save money.
B. The goal of the action is the consistent topic of consecutive clauses:
When students are required to take particular courses, they sometimes feel as if they are being treated like children. And if they are so burdened by required courses that they cannot choose electives that interest them, they can be expected to rebel.
5. Avoid stringing nouns into compound noun phrases:
Teacher evaluation form construction is difficult.
It is difficult to construct forms for the evaluation of teachers.
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