What Are Nominalizations? And How Can You Use Them?

Nominalizations are specific nouns that are formed from verbs and adjectives. The word “evaporation” is a nominalization of “evaporate,” and “optimization” is a nominalization of “optimize.”

Take a look at some common nominalized nouns that arise from verbs. While reading, try to guess what their original verb form was! 

  • Mechanization
  • Distortion
  • Requirement
  • Imposition
  • Choice
  • Burial 
  • Belief 
  • Examination
  • Decision
  • Conclusion
  • Inference
  • Collection 
  • Assumption

As mentioned, nominalizations can also come from adjectives. Look at these nominalized nouns and guess what their original adjective forms were! 

  • Carelessness
  • Fear
  • Elder
  • Slowness
  • Difficulty
  • Applicability
  • Similarity

Some patterns arise within nominalizations. As you could probably see, lots of nominalizations tend to end in “-ty/-ity,” “-ness,” “-ment,” and “-tion/-ion.”

Why Are Nominalizations Important?

In short, nominalizations are important because they are an active part of the English language. Even though you may not realize it, you most likely use nominalizations in your everyday speech!

In basic sentence structure, the main components are a subject and a verb. Most basic sentences consist of a simple subject followed by a verb. Due to this universal structure, basic sentences are simple and easy to understand. For example:

  • Dogs choose to eat many treats 
  • Anthills grow over time as more sticks are added 
  • After arriving at the hive, the queen bee begins to lay eggs 

These sentences are pretty basic and highlight the subject-verb form of common sentences. In simple sentences, nominalizations are normally not too helpful and can confuse the subject and the verb. For instance:

  • The choice of most dogs is to eat many treats 
  • The growth of an anthill happens over time as sticks are added 
  • Shortly after the arrival of a queen bee, she lays eggs 

As mentioned, nominalizations in these examples tend to be more confusing than the simple sentences themselves. This means that your sentences have to be longer and more complex to use nominalizations properly.

When Can You Use Nominalizations? 

With these stipulations in mind, you may wonder where you can use nominalizations in your writing. In truth, they aren’t too difficult once you get the hang of them, and they are especially useful when:

  • The nominalization can take the form of a subject or character. For instance, you could say that “sadness causes lots of problems for people.”
  • The nominalization is a general statement emphasizing the idea rather than the actors in a sentence. For instance, you could say that “The organization of the files was great!”

In the end, you shouldn’t sweat it too much regarding nominalizations. Throwing one or two in your writing wouldn’t hurt and could even spice up your writing. You should always use them sparingly, especially in smaller text passages.


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