There are two types of nominalization. Type A involves a morphological change, namely suffixation: the verb “to investigate” produces the noun “investigation,” and “to nominalize” yields “nominalization.”

Type B is known as “zero derivation” — or, more straightforwardly, “conversion.” This is what has taken place in my opening illustrations: a word has been switched from verb into noun (or, in the last two cases, from adjective into noun), without the addition of a suffix.

Plenty of teachers discourage heavy use of the first type of nominalization. Students are urged to turn nouns of this kind back into verbs, as if undoing a conjurer’s temporary hoax. On this principle, “The violence was Ted’s retaliation for years of abuse” is better rendered as “Ted retaliated violently after years of abuse.”

The argument for doing this is that the first version is weaker: dynamic writing makes use of “stronger” verbs. Yet in practice there are times when we may want to phrase a matter in a way that is not so dynamic. Perhaps we feel the need to be tactful or cautious, to avoid emotiveness or the most naked kind of assertion. Type A nominalization can afford us flexibility as we try to structure what we say. It can also help us accentuate the main point we want to get across. Sure, it can be clunky, but sometimes it can be trenchant.