Avoid Buried Verbs for Conciseness

Concise writing means avoiding hidden verbs and wordy noun constructions.

Verbs represent action whereas nouns typically describe a state and are, hence, static. Some writers needlessly convert verbs to wordy noun expressions. This happens when verbs such as acquire, establish, and develop are turned into nouns such as acquisition, establishment, and development. Such nouns often end in -tion, -ment, and -ance. Most predictably found in bureaucratic organizations, these noun phrases increase sentence length and, therefore,slow down as well as confuse the reader.

Notice how you can make your writing clearer and more forceful by opting for active verbs and ditching wordy, static noun constructions:                                                                   

Wordy, Static Noun Constructions        Active, Expressive Verbs

conduct a discussion of                              discuss

create a reduction in                                   reduce

engage in the preparation of                     prepare

give consideration to                                   consider

make an assumption of                              assume

perform an analysis of                                analyze

reach a conclusion that                              conclude

take action on                                               act

Revise the following sentences by converting noun expressions to action verbs:

  1. Our business cannot succeed unless we immediately effect a reduction in overhead expenses.
  2. Did anyone actually conduct an analysis of every department’s expense items?
  3. After examining current expenses, management has reached the conclusion that our budget is already trim.
  4. Nevertheless, our directors insist that we take action immediately to slash the budget.
  5. As a result, the CEO is giving consideration to an extensive study of all employee Internet use.
  6. Department heads must make a determination of what costs are essential and what they can trim.
  7. We hope that departments will take part in collaboration with other departments to effect the combination of selected services.
  8. We have made an estimation of possible savings of several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  9. Through the generation of cost-saving programs, the company should see a significant decline in expenses.
  10. Once our departments are in agreement with regard to the combination of selected services

Buried Verbs Exercise

Buried Verbs Answer Key

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