You may have noticed that in academic English, we use nouns more than verbs. For example, we’re more likely to say “development” rather than “develop” or “encouragement” rather than “encourage.” The process of changing words into their noun form is called nominalisation.
Nominalisation is used to create a more academic, impersonal tone. It is true that sentences containing active verbs are more interesting and exciting, but they lack the formality of nominalised sentences. Additionally, nominalisation allows us to add variety to our language. Instead of repeating words or word forms, we can vary our language.
For example, in describing a line graph, students often use verbs like “increase” too often. We can change a sentence containing this idea thusly:
The price increased dramatically between 1995 and 1997.
There was a dramatic increase in the price between 1995 and 1997.
Note that the verb changes to a noun and, accordingly, the adverb becomes an adjective.
How do we use Nominalisation?
Sometimes it is as straightforward as the above example – switching verbs for nouns and adverbs for adjectives. However, sometimes you need to get a bit creative. How would you change “eating,” for example? You’d need to change it to “consumption.”
children are eating more junk food
the increased consumption of junk food by children
Notice how much more former the latter sounds. While this would seem unusual in regular conversation, in an essay it is quite appropriate.
Change the following sentences using nominalisation:
- Traffic accidents are dangerous
- People are using mobile phones more
- Children are getting less exercise
- Companies are slowly advertising more
- New products are not being introduced
- The danger of traffic accidents
- A drop in mobile phone use
- A decrease in the amount of exercise in children
- A gradual increase in the amount of advertising
- A halt to the introduction of new products