Definition and examples
Useless nominalizations
Useful nominalizations
Nominalization: turning a verb or an adjective into a noun

discover -> discovery           careless -> carelessness
move -> movement                difficult -> difficulty
react -> reaction               different -> difference
fail -> failure                 applicable -> applicability
refuse -> refusal               intense -> intensity

(hope-> hope, charge-> charge, result-> result, answer-> answer, etc.)

Useless Nominalizations.

1. Nominalization follows verb
The police conducted an investigation into the matter.
The police investigated the matter.

2. Nominalization follows `there is.'
There was considerable erosion of the land from the floods.
The floods | considerably eroded | the land.

3. Nominalization is subject of empty verb.
Our discussion concerned a tax cut.
We discussed a tax cut.

4. Consecutive nominalizations
There was a first a review of the evolution of the dorsal fin.
First, she reviewed the evolution of the dorsal fin.
First, she reviewed how the dorsal fin evolved.

5. Linked nominalizations
Their cessation of hostilities was because of their personnel losses.
They ceased hostilities because they lost personnel.

The instability of the motor housing did not preclude the completion
  of the field trials.
Even though the motor housing was unstable, the research staff
  completed the field trials.

Useful Nominalizations.

1. Nominalization is a subject referring to a previous sentence.

These arguments all depend on a single, unproven claim.
This decision can lead to costly consequences.

2. The nominalization names what would be the object of its verb.

I do not understand either her meaning or his intentions.
        [is more compact than the acceptable]
I do not understand either what she meant for what he intends.

3. To replace awkward "The fact that"

The fact that I denied what he accused me of impressed the jury.
My denial of his accusations impressed the jury.

[but even better]

When I denied his accusations, I impressed the jury.
In denying his accusations, I impressed the jury.

4. Referring to an often repeated concept.

Few issues have so divided Americans as abortion on demand.

[However compare]
There is a demand for an end to taxation on entertainment.
We demand that the government stop taxing entertainment.

5. Use nominalization after "there is/are" to introduce a topic
that develop in subsequent sentences.

6. Sometimes our topic is so abstract that we think we can write
about it only in nominalizations.  However it often is the case that
the paragraph can be rewritten using subject/characters and

Your comments and suggestions are appreciated.
[Handouts Home Page]
General Summary
active vs. passive voice
To cite this page:
[Tuesday, 24-May-2016 23:15:06 EDT]

Edited by: on Sunday, 24-Aug-2003 17:04:34 EDT