Legal Writing Skills: Liberate Buried Verbs!

Legal Writing Skills: Liberate Buried Verbs!

Verbs are the key to powerful writing. They make your writing fresh, distinct, and impactful—but not if they’re festering within stuffy old nouns. Now is the time to set your verbs free! 

The key is to recognize when verbs have been stashed. They’re often concealed within words ending in “tion,” “sion,” “ment,” “ance,” “ence,” or “ity.” Once you’ve found where the verbs are trapped, it’s easy to liberate them. For example:

The allegation in plaintiff’s complaint is that her discharge was in violation of the equal protection clause.Plaintiff’s complaint alleges that her discharge violated the equal protection clause.
The agency had an obligation to provide the man with compensation for its use of the land.The agency was obligated to compensate the man for its use of the land.
The contracting parties are in agreement that the third-party beneficiary has a preference for regular updates.The contracting parties agree that the third-party beneficiary prefers regular updates.
The admission of the evidence was in conformity with the rules of evidence.Admitting the evidence conformed with the rules of evidence.

Much better, right? So the next time you spot a hidden verb, dig it out! Before too long it’ll be second nature to you.

See this tip in action by reviewing expertly-crafted explanations in the UWorld MBE® QBank. Click here to access our QBank or purchase a subscription.

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