The Concise Switch
Using the proper verb to represent the action of a sentence is central to presenting a focused, concise message.
At times, verbs can function as nouns, depending on how they are used in a sentence. The sentences below illustrate how one word can be a verb and a noun; they also show the value of switching the noun to the verb.
Original Sentence: When a woman behaves in a manner depicted as "outside" of gendered cultural norms, she RUNS THE RISK OF having her value as a woman questioned.
The word “risk” is used as a noun in this sentence; it means “possibility of loss or injury” and “someone or something that creates or suggests a hazard” (Merriam-Webster App). The verb in the sentence is “runs,” which is somewhat informal in the context of this sentence.
To improve the conciseness and academic tone of this sentence, “run” is deleted while “risk” is used as a verb instead of a noun. The verb "risk" means “to expose to hazard or danger” or “to incur the risk or danger of” (Merriam-Webster App).
Edited Sentence: When a woman behaves in a manner depicted as "outside" of gendered cultures norms, she RISKS having her value as a woman questioned.
The edited sentence reads more concisely because it has three fewer words (minus “runs,” “the” and “of”) while maintaining an active verb (“risks” instead of “runs”).
When possible, writers should replace any nouns that function as verbs when these words are placed near the verb and can replace the verb.
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