Why You Should Not Use Nominalisations When You Write

  1. -ion
  2. -tion
  3. -ment
  4. -ity
  5. -ty
  6. -ness
Here are some examples:

Why are they bad for your writing? 

A nominalisation is a type of abstract noun. An abstract noun denotes an idea, quality, emotion, or state. It is something that is not concrete. It takes the power away from the original verb.

When we write in plain language, we try to avoid nominalisations, because they make sentences unclear. If we use them, we have to use more words in our sentences. They drain the life out of our writing.

In fact, nominalisations are often used in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) to induce a light trance. ‘If we use lots of nominalisations together, the mind is not sure exactly what is being said and so it drifts off and gets distracted…’ (source)

When they are used instead of verbs, it sounds as if nothing is happening in the sentence.

Here are some examples:

The distribution of the resources was set for inclusion in the discussion.

is weaker than

We discussed how we would distribute the resources.

The results from the gathering of the data were used for the formulation of questions.

is weaker than

We gathered data to formulate questions.

The implementation of the method allowed for the stoppage of waste.

is weaker than

The team implemented the method to stop the waste.

If you want people to pay attention to your writing, do not use too many nominalisations.

Resource: Purdue OWL

If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme.