Grammar Quiz #22: Smothered Verbs

By Mark Nichol

Each of the following sentences includes a smothered verb (i.e., a word that has been formed from a verb). Revise the sentences as necessary for conciseness:

1. The committee will hold a meeting this Wednesday evening at seven o’clock.

2. I will make a decision after studying the criteria you have given me.

3. We hope someone can provide an answer to this political question.

4. A school counselor’s job is to give advice to the students.

5. Please take into consideration the suggestion your father made.

Answers and Explanations

In order to improve sentences containing smothered verbs you simply need to replace them with the original verbs. Example: Her guardian has made provision for her in his will. You should replace “has made provision” with “provided.”

1.
Original: The committee will hold a meeting this Wednesday evening at seven o’clock.
Correct : The committee will meet this Wednesday evening at seven o’clock.

2.
Original: I will make a decision after studying the criteria you have given me.
Correct : I will decide after studying the criteria you have given me.

3.
Original: We hope someone can provide an answer to this political question.
Correct : We hope someone can answer this political question.

4.
Original: A school counselor’s job is to give advice to the students.
Correct : A school counselor’s job is to advise the students.

5.
Original: Please take into consideration the suggestion your father made.
Correct : Please consider the suggestion your father made.


2 Responses to “Grammar Quiz #22: Smothered Verbs”

  • D.A.W.

    There are some words that immediately brand sentences as bureaucratese, and two of these are “criteria” and “consideration”. This makes the phase “consideration of criteria” doubly damned!

  • D.A.W.

    Some of your example sentences sound like bureaucratese, and so they should be done away with on that basis.
    The rest of them, I have no objection to – as they originally were.

    I have come to understand that I have despised bureaucratese for a long time. Some of my teachers in elementary school spoke in bureaucratese, and especially like this:
    Statement: If I let you do that, then I would have to let everyone else do it.
    Answer: I am not everyone else.
    My parents, my uncles, and my aunts had always taught me that I was someone special.
    Furthermore, the rest of the students in my school were (mostly) special individuals, too. (There were a few hell-raisers.)

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