Judy Nollet
White Plume Communications

writer, instructional designer, eLearning developer

Will the Real Verb Please Come Forward

Do you ever wonder, "How can I make my writing more concise?"

Here's a hint. Ask this instead: "How can I write more concisely?"

See the difference? "Make my writing" includes what's known as a hidden verb (write). The important action/verb is turned into a thing/noun. That's an easy pattern to slip into, but once you recognize the problem, it's also easy to fix. Simply let the real verb do its job.

Practice on the examples below. Can you find the hidden verbs?

  • We can set up a meeting.
  • You can perform a search online.
  • Please fill out an application for the position.
  • We will conduct a survey of the participants.
  • You must complete the documentation of your activities.

How did you do? Did you find the hidden verbs (meet, search, apply, survey, and document)?

Uncovering hidden verbs saves a bit of space. Even better, it clarifies and strengthens your sentences. Those results are worth a bit of detective work.

For more on concise writing, refer to these articles:

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