College Writing #1 - The Power is in the Verb

By: Overlook Tutorial Academy

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This series will focus on what you can learn to improve your style and, frankly, sound academic.\par You need to improve your verbs. We all need to enhance our verbs. Every academic writer must upgrade his verbs. It cannot be said often enough \endash expand your verb knowledge!\par I\rquote ll begin with a simple rule \endash \par \ul\b\fs28 Let the verb be the action in your sentence. \par \ulnone\b0\fs24 That seems simple. Didn\rquote t we all learn in elementary school that a verb is an action word? OF course we did. But in the years since \ldblquote Spot runs.\rdblquote our writing style has become muddied. Let\rquote s take it to a \ldblquote Word Wash\rdblquote and get back to clear, strong verbs.\par Put all the action of a sentence into the verb.

Don't bury the action in a noun or blur it across the entire sentence. Like this-\par \i The improvement of the usage of verbs by college students in the USA is now our concern.\par \i0 ..sheesh! Now there is a sentence and a half! The sentence structure is entirely correct. But talk about your MUDDY? Here is a better version:\par \i College Students in the USA should write with first-class verbs.\par \i0 Even simpler sentences deserve attention. Of course it is not always possible, but replace the verb \i to be\i0 with something more descriptive whenever possible. Here are a few examples\par It will be different\tab better\f1\'e0\f0 It will differ\line is interesting to me better\f1\'e0\f0 \tab interests me\line this paper is an analysis better\f1\'e0\f0\tab this paper analyzes \par See the difference? We\rquote ve taken the action \endash differ, interests, analyzes \endash and put it straight into the verb.\par \ul\b\fs28 Nominalization\par \ulnone\b0\fs24 Nominalization simply means turning another part of speech like a verb into a noun with the suffix \endash ion. They really suck the action out of the verb because they contain action-ality without being the verb your writing deserves.\par I can\rquote t say don\rquote t use them, but be as sure as you can be that the verb, not the nominalization, is the focus of the sentence.\par Here are a few of the NOMINALIZATIONs we use every day.\par \pard\fi-360\li1260\sa192\f2\'b7\tab\f0 evaluation\par \f2\'b7\tab\f0 execution\par \f2\'b7\tab\f0 collision\par \f2\'b7\tab\f0 decision\par \f2\'b7\tab\f0 solution\par \pard\sa192 Probably the sentences that they are in would be better if you used the verbs \endash evaluate, execute, collide, decide, solve. That\rquote s got some POWER in it!\par \ul\b\fs28 Verbization\par \ulnone\b0\fs24 Verbization is more-or-less the opposite of nominalization. It is using a noun as a verb.

True, it is a valid usage in a few instances but current television slang has made it allowable to use almost any noun that way. If you are writing ad copy, go ahead. However, in academic writing of any kind you will sound less than well-read if you mis-use parts of speech. As you progress in your career you will pick up the acceptable jargon of your profession, but as a student it is a risk you don\rquote t need.\par In a word, avoid it like the linguistic plague it is.

College Writing #1 - The Power is in the Verb

If you are in doubt check in a dictionary and thesaurus to find a better action verb than one that is a noun.\par Have a look at these words all too often used as verbs:\par \pard\fi-360\li720\sa192\f2\'b7\tab\f0 office\par \f2\'b7\tab\f0 parent\par \f2\'b7\tab\f0 impact\par \f2\'b7\tab\f0 medal\par \f2\'b7\tab\f0 liaison\par \pard\li720\sa192\par \pard\sa192 I\rquote ve heard every one of these used as a noun on TV in the last month or so! Please oh PUH-leeeeese don\rquote t you!\par \par Use strong, descriptive verbs always. Before your final draft go once through your whole assignment looking specifically at the verbs. Ask yourself these two questions:\par \pard\li720\sa192 1 \endash Is this actually a verb?\par 2 \endash Does the verb clearly communicate the action of the sentence?\par \pard\sa192\par This all by itself will make a noticeable improvement in your academic writing style. Watch for future installments!\par \pard\f3\fs20\par }.

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