Nouns and Verbs

Some of you may know that I translate CVs and do English interview training including management webinars. Part of the webinar is give an Elevator Pitch where you have to sell yourself in 90 seconds (or the time it takes an elevator to go up a building). In a webinar last week, I noticed that my German managers’ pitches weren’t punchy (schlagkräftig) enough because they were using the nominal style instead of the verbal style. Now what is she talking about you ask? I mean instead of using nouns such as my key competencies include …, it is much more dynamic to say I can, I lead, I manage … etc. In fact, using verbs generally makes English sound better. Compare these two sentences:

Apple’s gain in market share in the early 2000s was in large part the result of its channeling significant resources into the development of the iPhone.

Apple gained market share in the early 2000s in large part because it channeled significant resources into developing the iPhone.

Do you see what I mean? The second one is easier to understand isn’t it? This concept of verbal vs. nominal style is probably why working from home became Home Office and viewing in public became Public Viewing. Neither are wrong, they are just attributes of the language.

In fact English sometimes goes too far with verbs as far as I am concerned. Instead of saying I gave him a book as a present, I often hear I gifted him a book and he inboxed me really irritated me when you can say he sent me an email. So when you’re speaking or writing in English, just check to see if using verbs would make your language smoother or more effective, just as I try to use more nouns when I speak German, even though using the right article is a guessing game …

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