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Grammatical metaphor: Nominalization

Nominalization examples

Comparing the two texts

Let’s compare the sample response from the previous page with the original snippet.


In each of these, highlight the nominal groups and verbal groups.

Most history books will tell you that, in the nineteenth century, workers in Europe began to have more choice because people started hiring and promoting each other for their skills and aptitude, instead of everyone being forced to do jobs based on what their families did, and because governments started to provide more and more public schools so that everyone had the opportunity to learn.

A couple of notes

Standard history texts will tell you that the nineteenth century saw the beginnings of a new era of choice for Europe’s workers, primarily due to the invention of meritocracy – rewarding people on the basis of their skills or aptitude – and the growth of public education.

A couple of notes

What do you see when you compare the conversational version with the written version?


Do you see how the written version has only a few verbal groups and nominal groups, and the nominal groups are quite dense? That’s because events are being nominalized and treated as things.