--a word that expresses action
Latching on to intelligent-sounding wordy constructions, many technical and business writers spurn the poor active verb like tainted meat. But why? These simple, often short words, add punch to prose and can clarify cluttered, hard-to-follow writing.
Sometimes the action is disguised in a noun phrase like
Calculations were performed to determine the temperatures.
instead of the simple
Temperatures were calculated.
Here, the real action is hidden in the noun "calculations."
At other times, auxiliary (also known as helping or linking) verbs obscure the action:
Compare The new gauge is capable of measuring temperatures above 800 °C.
with The new gauge can measure temperatures above 800 °C.
Where the meaning will not be changed, try replacing these phrases with the shorter active verbs and phrases that follow them:
Don't be lured into thinking that more words are better. You will lose your readers in long auxiliary verb phrases and send them hunting for the real action in nouns.
Less can be more. Try an active verb.
Responsible NASA Official: Natalie L. Henrich,
Glenn Technical Publications Manager
Web Curator: Caroline A. Rist (Wyle)
Last updated: 4/22/2011