Friday, July 1, 2011

Invigorate your prose: find hidden verbs

From A Plain English Handbook, put out by the Securities and Exchange Commission to encourage Wall Street denizens to make their stock and bond offerings halfway intelligible to the public:

Find Hidden Verbs
Does a sentence use any form of the verbs "to be," "to have," or another weak verb, with a noun that could be turned into a strong verb? In the sentences below, the strong verb lies hidden in a nominalization, a noun derived from a verb that usually ends in -tion. As you change nouns to verbs, your writing becomes more vigorous and less abstract.

before after
We made an application... We applied...
We made an determination... We determined...
We will make an distribution... We will distribute...

before
We will provide appropriate information to shareholders concerning ....

after
We will inform shareholders about ...


before
We will have no stock ownership of the company.

after
We will own no company stock..


before
There is the possibility of prior Board approval of these investments.

after
The Board might approve these investments in advance.

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