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Which one is better? Do they have different meanings? I think that first one is better because we are talking about an action. with ing form we are overtly mention an action.

  1. Desecrating monuments is considered a criminal act in many countries.

  2. Desecration of monuments is considered a criminal act in many countries.

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  • Whilst it's true that your second version is more "formal" than the first, that's not specifically because the first uses a verb participle whereas the second uses an explicitly "nouny" derived inflection. Maybe it's just a personal opinion, but I think #3 The desecrating of monuments is actually more formal than either of the above examples, but it's still using the participle rather than the inflected noun. Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 13:28

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The meanings are the same. A writing style that liberally uses participles as nouns / adjectives / adverbs is excellent in my opinion. I'd also recommend never using predict adjectives and predict nominatives because the verb "to be" is the worst with regard to action.

In this case an attributive noun structure can be used and I think it sounds best: "monument desecration."

"Many countries considered monument desecration (to be) criminal."

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    Good answer. I would add that while the meanings are the same, the tone / register is not. "Desecration of monuments" is much more formal, leaning towards "legalese". It's also a little awkwardly phrased, unless you say "The desecration of monuments", which is also in a high register. Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 7:09

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