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Author: Ryan Howard
  1. Explain what nominalizations are and why they are used.

  2. Explain common errors with nominalizations.

This packet should help a learner seeking to understand English grammar and who is confused about nominalizations, gerunds, and infinitive phrases. It will explain why nominalizations are used and how to use them effectively.

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Intro to Nominalizations

Errors in Nominalization

Nominalization also has its errors.  Let's take a look at the following sentence:

"Mark's fascination with the stereo caused isolation from his friends."

Here, we do not need any nouns other than Mark's fascination.  Having the sentence read the way it is can be tiresome.  We can change it to something like this to make it run more smoothly.

"Mark's fascination with the stereo caused him to be isolated from his friends."  The word "isolation" was changed to "isolated," making it an adjective.


More Examples:


Tim's friendliness was not going well with the impatience of his in-laws.

Your crying will disrupt the sleeping of the townspeople.

My happiness is more important than the receivement of pay.

That cat's fascination with the toy mouse provides entertainment for me and my family.


Notice how the nominalization of one word takes away from the focus of  what is supposed to be the subject of the sentence.  E.g. Your crying will disrupt the sleeping of the townspeople.  The subject is supposed to be the person's crying.  However, the sentence tends to equally focus on the "sleeping of the townspeople" as a subject. 


Let us take the sentence and revise it.  Your crying will disrupt the townspeople from sleeping.  "Sleeping of the townspeple" has now been changed to "townspeople from sleeping," making the word "sleeping" a verb rather than a noun.  This gives more focus on the person's crying as opposed to the "sleeping of the townspeople."


Simplify the Nominalizations:

Nominalizations are overused in the following sentences.  On a separate sheet of paper, simplify them.  Transform some of the nouns into verbs, adjectives, or adverbs.


1. The dog's friendliness created happiness among the guests at the party. 


2. To be your friend contributes to my happiness. 


3. Steve's obsession with his new lawn mower creates tension among us.


4. Your being organized contributes greatly to the importance of our club. 



You have learned the following in this lesson:


  • Nominalizations involve transforming verbs, adverbs, and adjectives into nouns (e.g. merry = merriment, friendly = friendliness)    
  •     Nominalizations are fine in moderation, but can get cliched if overused.


  • The Infinitive (to + verb) can be used as a noun.  (e.g. To wait until the last minute is foolish.)


  • Overusage of nominalizations can also take away from the original subject of a sentence. 



Source: see above sections for sources