Quick tips on verbs

Dear Style Master: I’m troubled by verbs. In addition to changing passive verbs into active verbs, my editor changes future tense to present tense in all my instructive content! She also says I tend to nominalize. What the heck is she talking about and how can I stop these irritating edits? 

–Futuristic UX Expert

Dear U: Help your editor (and your user) out by sticking with present tense most of the time. Many of us tend to use future tense as a kind of prediction of the consequences of an action: “When you press Return, the Review window will open.” The truth is that when the user presses Return, the Review window opens.

Avoid nominalizations that result when you take a perfectly good verb and make it into a weak, abstract noun. Like passive voice, nominalizations can result in some awkward constructions. For example, rather than simply suggesting that a user calibrate an instrument, you might nominalize to suggest that the user perform a calibration—and your editor will take you to task!

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