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  Video: Keep your doing words doing

There's a kind of word that – used too often – will make your writing heavy, indirect and difficult to follow.

The good news is that once you get used to recognising such words, you will be able to change them and quickly make your writing more clear, concise and direct.

The doing word behind the thing

What we're talking about are nouns (things) that are sneakily hiding verbs (doing or being words, actions). For example, the noun 'discussion' hides the verb '(to) discuss'. You can recognise a noun by the fact you put 'the', 'a' or 'an' in front of it ('a discussion', for instance).

These are called 'nominalisations'. In fact, 'nominalisation' is itself a nominalisation: 'to nominalise' is to turn a verb or adjective into a noun. But don't worry too much about that.

Watch the video to see what we mean:

Can't watch the video now? You can download the transcript:

These nouns that hide verbs often end in -tion or -sion. That's why we say you should shun the -tions. It's not the only ending (others include -ment, -age, -al and -ence). But it's definitely something to look out for in your writing – especially if the -tion/-sion words start to pile up.

Shun the -tions

When you spot them, try to work out what verbs are hiding behind them. Then see if you can change your sentences to use the equivalent verbs instead. (For example, change 'We need a discussion' to 'We need to discuss'.) As you've seen, this will probably mean you can cut out other words too.

Now it's time for you to practise changing nouns back to verbs. Click 'Complete and continue ➜' to move on.