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Verbs Working as Nouns

One goal of a strong writer is to use language efficiently. Understanding how to maximize words requires the knowledge of the basic eight parts of speech as well as how these parts can function in different capacities. Then, you can easily spot unnecessary usage of language.

Today’s writing tip shows how one part of speech (verbs) can function as another one (nouns); more importantly, it illustrates how to avoid repetition when using a verb as a noun.

Read the original and edited sentence below followed by an explanation.

Original Sentence: HAVING AN UNDERSTANDING OF qualitative methods improves the interviewing process.

Edited Sentence: UNDERSTANDING qualitative methods improves the interviewing process.

Explanation: Verbs are used in several ways; interestingly, verbs can function as nouns in certain forms. One form is the gerund, which is created by adding “ing” to a verb.

The original sentence above includes two gerunds: “having” and “understanding.” Technically, the sentence is correct; however, it is wordy. Placing two gerunds so close to one another is a clue that one is not needed.

Therefore, in the edited sentence, one of the gerunds is deleted to focus on the true noun phrase of the sentence: “Understanding qualitative methods.” In the original sentence, “having an understanding of qualitative methods” was the noun phrase. In the edited sentence, three of the words in the noun phrase were deleted.

Notice the deletion did not change the meaning of the sentence. In fact, the change made the focus and subject of the sentence clearer.

When editing documents, look for double instances of nouns, verbs and noun phrases. Once you find them, be sure every word is necessary. If not, delete, delete, delete!

Until next week, Happy Writing!!! Dr. V Writing Coach-Editor-Speaker Author of I'm Not a Writer...I am Just in Graduate School (order your copy at

Available in hard copy and on Kindle

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