20 More Smothered Verbs Set Free
In the interests of trying to help prevent the smothering deaths of countless sentences, here’s a public-service announcement about how to avoid this senseless tragedy: If a noun phrase (verb plus preposition plus article plus noun, though variations are frequent) can be condensed by converting the noun to a verb and deleting the other words in the phrase, do it.
It’s easy enough to write a sentence with a smothered verb — I did it myself in a post last week (“The strategy has been a failure in reducing costs” is easily reduced to “The strategy failed to reduce costs.”) We’re likely to employ such sentence-stretching strategies in speech, but in writing, we have the opportunity to — that is, we can — make amends. Here are more examples:
See example above.
“The latter conclusion provides an example of the combination of risk factors at different levels.”
“The latter conclusion exemplifies the combination of risk factors at different levels.”
“Call a stop to (or “put a stop to”) this nonsense.”
“Stop this nonsense.”
“I’m glad they’ve come to an agreement.”
“I’m glad they agree.”
“We’re here to conduct an investigation.”
“We’re here to investigate.”
“They decided to conduct a review.”
“They conducted a review.” (The original version is valid, however, if the review has not yet been conducted.)
“She conducted experiments into tearing the fabric of the space-time continuum.”
“She experimented with tearing the fabric of the space-time continuum.”
“I’d like to extend an invitation for you to attend.”
“I’d like to invite you to attend.” (Or, even more directly, “I invite you to attend.”)
“He didn’t give an indication of his plans.”
“He didn’t indicate his plans.”
“They agreed to give consideration to his proposal.”
“They considered his proposal.”
“I had a discussion with her about that very issue.”
“I discussed that very issue with her.”
“We have a tendency to get carried away sometimes.”
“We tend to get carried away sometimes.” (Or, even more directly, “We get carried away sometimes.”)
“Will the new policy have an effect on our procedures?”
“Will the new policy affect our procedures?”
14. “They plan to hold a conference (or meeting) about the issue soon.”
“They plan to confer (or meet) about the issue soon.” (Or “They will confer (or meet) about the issue soon,” though the meaning is slightly different.)
“The president is expected to make a statement about his opposition to the proposal later today.”
“The president is expected to state his opposition to the proposal later today.” (The meaning is not identical, but the condensed sentence is valid.)
“I will make (or undertake) an examination of the premises immediately.”
“I will examine the premises immediately.”
“The committee will perform an assessment of the situation.”
“The committee will assess the situation.”
“We expect to realize a substantial savings.”
“We expect to save substantially.”
“She stated with confidence that she will win by a landslide.”
“She is confident that she will win by a landslide.”
“Are you interested in submitting an application?”
“Are you interested in applying?”
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