Verbs invigorate sentences and make writing lively and emphatic, but those action words often suffocate inside mushy nouns.

We deprive ourselves of the chance to energize a sentence when we say They provided recommendations for improvements to our customer service,  rather than They recommended changes to improve our customer service. Similarly, don’t say employees made a significant contribution when you can say employees contributed significantly. Why hide the stronger verb recommend in recommendation, or the verb form to improve in the phrase for improvements? The same issue exists in the second sentence. Why use five words if you can say it in three?

Be alert for two things:

  • words that end in ion, ent, ance, ence, and ing. These are nouns, and frequently you will see a verb tucked inside it that should replace whatever you are using for a verb. The most common ending that should draw your attention is ion, as in opposition (oppose), examination (examine), and decision (decide).
  • verbs such as make, have, do, give, take, provide, perform, and conduct. These also hide action that can give your sentence more momentum than whatever verb you are using. 

If you are going to conduct an analysis, what are you going to do? Convert analysis to analyze, and you have a stronger sentence. Don’t say the committee will take it under consideration when what you really want to say is will consider it.