Zombies are big in movies and TV these days. But zombie nouns have been the bane of good writers for much longer. We know zombies as dead or inanimate objects come to life. Zombie nouns, also known as abstract nouns, suck the life out of good writing. It happens when parts of speech—most often verbs and adjectives—get turned into nouns. We call it nominalization.
It’s an easy enough process. You simply add a suffix like ion, ate, or ize to an adjective or verb and it becomes a noun.
- The verb complete becomes the noun completion.
- The verb study becomes the noun (gerund) studying.
- The adjectives happy and sad become the nouns happiness and sadness.