Additional Resources for you to Explore
This lesson was based on an op-ed Helen Sword wrote for the New York Times entitlted Zombie Nouns (published July 23, 2012). How do you improve your writing by removing nominalizations? The UNT Writing Lab has a useful how-to guide with examples (PDF). Precise Edit's Blog post of Jan. 17, 2012 explains the bad effects of zombie nouns:  increased clutter, increased noun-to-verb ratio, hard-to-read sentences, tedious prose. So when should you use them? Only if it makes the sentence more concise, or to emphasize a main idea, or convey a complex concept that is in common usage (like perception, intelligence, election). John Wilkins at OSU also suggests their use to replace an awkward "the fact that", or as a subject referring to a previous sentence: e.g., "These arguments are all baseless." Nominalizations often come hand-in-hand with passive voice (see, e.g. Smarthinking Writer's Handbook). Both make your writing more difficult and tedious!
When writing, let verbs guide you!
Lesson Creator
Washington, DC, United States