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Nominalizations and Adjectivizations

1.  Avoid nominalizations and adjectivizations. A nominalization is a verb that has been turned into a noun. An adjectivization is a verb that has been turned into an adjective. The most common reason writers do this is that they think it is more appropriate to formal writing. It is not. In legal writing, readers most appreciate clarity, conciseness, and strong writing. A writer who consistently uses strong verbs has taken a large step toward strong writing. As you can see in the examples below, avoiding nominalizations and adjectivizations serves these goals.

Incorrect Nominalization:

Defense counsel made an objection to the prosecution's question.


Correct Use of a Strong Verb:

Defense counsel objected to the prosecution's question.


Incorrect Adjectivization:

The judge was dismissive of counsel's arguments.


Correct Use of Strong Verb:

The judge dismissed counsel's arguments.

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