How to “Zing” Without the “Ing”

Compare these two sentences:

  • By implementing a marketing strategy and focusing on customer relations, John was saving the company money and contributing to the bottom line.
  • John’s marketing strategy focused on customer relations to help the company save money and increase its bottom line.

Notice how the second version is a bit clearer and easier to read? That’s because in the first sentence, four verbs (implementing, focusing, saving, contributing) are hidden inside of noun forms. The second version activates some of those hidden verbs (focusing and saving), drops “implementing,” and replaces “contributing” with “increase” to create a more dynamic sentence. It also brings the subject, John, to the forefront.

Don’t get me wrong; “ing” words have their place. But if you overuse them, they can weigh your writing down, and your reader may miss the point of your message. Instead, favor concrete, present-tense verbs to sharpen your writing and make it more active.

Another benefit is that when you avoid “ing” words, you will likely also eliminate the “be” verbs, which will further lighten up your writing.

Challenge yourself to use as few “ing” words as possible (or none at all!) and see how it strengthens your message.


By Jolinda Cappello, a Senior Editor with TalentMEDIA Services. You can reach her at

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