Nominalizing the verb phrase in academic science writing

Douglas Biber, Bethany Gray

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

18 Scopus citations


One of the most distinctive linguistic characteristics of modern academic writing is its reliance on nominalized structures. These include nouns that have been morphologically derived from verbs (e.g. development, progression) as well as verbs that have been “converted” to nouns (e.g. increase, use). Almost any sentence taken from an academic research article will illustrate the use of such structures. For example, consider the opening sentences from three education research articles; derived nominalizations are underlined and converted nouns given in italics: (I) a. Now that programed instruction has emerged from the laboratories of experimental psychologists and become a bona fide teaching aid, consideration is being given to the expansion and utilization of the media by which programs are presented. (1965, Acad-NS), With the strain that increased enrollments are placing on the resources of many colleges and universities, these institutions are becoming more concerned with minimizing the inefficiency arising from student transfers. (1965, Acad-NS), This paper reports an analysis of Tucker's central prediction system model and an empirical comparison of it with two competing models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Verb Phrase in English
Subtitle of host publicationInvestigating Recent Language Change with Corpora
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages34
ISBN (Electronic)9781139060998
ISBN (Print)9781107016354
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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