Attack of the Zombie NounsZombie nouns flourish in legal writing. They smother lively verbs and suck the vitality and clarity right out your prose. Bryan A. Garner believes that they are a bigger problem in legal writing than incorrectly using the passive voice. (Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage, p. 126. This a great reference book, by the way.)What is a zombie noun? It is a colorful label by Helen Sword to describe a nominalization in a delightful article here. A nominalization is a verb that has been changed into a noun, such as investigation instead of investigate or application instead of apply. Look for nouns with the following suffixes at the end: -tion, -sion, -ment, -ence, -ance, -ity. (Garner, p. 125)So, what’s wrong with zombie nouns? Using them them causes three problems. (1) They breed prepositions and prepositional phrases causing longer sentences and more sludge in your prose. (2) They use more be-verbs instead of action verbs. (3) They are more abstract and thus often more difficult for readers to understand who is doing what to whom. (Garner, p.126)For example, we will investigate is shorter and more clear than we will conduct an investigation. Or, please apply instead of please make an application.