Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Avoid the Passive Voice: -tion Words

In my wanderings today, I found Daphne Gray-Grant's Publication Coach site. I see a pile of such sites every week but this one has something that caught my eye. The front page shows you how to customize your grammar and style checker in MS Word and offers a free sample of her equally free newsletter.

The sample newsletter shown contained the following:

There are three big problems with “tion” words.
1. They are usually long - three to four syllables. Readers tend to stumble on long words.
2. They usually don’t create a picture in the reader’s mind. (If I write “dog” you are likely to see a dog in your mind’s eye. If I write “allocation” you will see nothing). Good writing is all about pictures.
3. You usually form these words by taking a perfectly good verb (eg: observe) and adding “tion” to turn it into a noun (“observation.”) To make a sentence, you THEN have to add ANOTHER verb - usually a boring one like “is” or “made” (eg: “He made an observation.”) This makes your writing dull and wordy.

What a flash of brilliance! Another tool for hunting down the dull and blabby passive voice - how could I resist? I tried to sign up for her newsletter but the site timed out so I haven't started receiving it. I'll try again and post whether I am successful. She has not included any indication of how often that page changes, so I included the important text here in case it disappears.




"She has not included any indication..." should be "She has not indicated..."
Avoid "-tion" words...