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Reporting Verbs

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Words instead of "say" or "write"

In academic writing, we need to refer to the research and ideas of others. We can express an opinion about the research by choosing an appropriate reporting verb, and these can range in strength, from negative, through neutral to expressing a strong opinion. These are alternatives to the words “said” and wrote”. Below is a list of some reporting verbs you may find useful.  Bear in mind that no two words are exactly the same, and you need to consider the nuances of meaning when you make your choice, ensuring you give an accurate interpretation to the writer’s ideas and intentions, and indicate your attitude to the idea. Depending on the tense used in your assignment, reporting verbs can be in either the past or present tense, and the structure of the sentence may vary according to the reporting verb you choose. Have a look at the examples below to give you some ideas (note the change in tense):

Smith (2013) reasoned that communication skills are essential to building effective nurse-patient relationships.

In her presentation, Smith (2013) acknowledges communication skills are essential ...

Smith (2013) emphasised that communication skills are essential ...

In her presentation, Smith (2013) challenges the claim that communication skills are ...

Brown (2013) concurred that communication skills are essential to building ...

In her study on building effective nurse-student relationships, Brown (2013) endorsed the idea that communication skills are essential.

Brown (2013) casts doubt on the value of communications skill as being essential to building ...

Brown (2013) highlighted the importance of communication skills in building ...

Brown (2013) rebuffed the idea that communication skills are essential to ...

The following list gives you some choices, classified according to their strength. However, do not feel bound by this classification; rather choose the most appropriate word for the context. Add more words which you may find useful. Please note that the list has been given in the present tense; you may need to change the tense to the past.

Neutral

Tentative

Strong

Usually to present the facts

More speculative, not absolutely certain

Making a strong argument, either positive or negative

Positive     Negative

discuss
examine
analyse
define
describe
echo
find
note
outline
present
reflect
report
state
unpack
observe
comment
explain
allege
study
point out
consider
mention

question
maintain
claim
reason
postulate
inquire
suggest
propose
imply
intimate
put forward
identify
speculate
theorise
suppose
recommend
take into consideration
hypothesise
assume
develop

add
agree
affirm
contend
concur
endorse
maintain
point out
prove
reason
reveal
show
stress
support
prove
clarify
contribute
determine
claim
stress
believe
emphasise
highlight

disagree
argue
cast doubt
challenge
disapprove
disprove
rebuff
refute
reject
counter

 

References

International Student Centre, Johnston, M. (n.d.). Writing at the University of Toronto: Verbs for referring to sources. Retrieved from http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/english-as-a-second-language/referring-to-sources

The University of Warwick, Sharpling, G. (2012). Reporting verbs. Retrieved from http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/al/globalpad/openhouse/academicenglishskills/grammar/reportingverbs/

Wong-Toi, G., & Bartlett-Trafford, J. (2009). The business of writing: Written communication skills for business students (3rd ed.). Auckland, New Zealand: Pearson Education New Zealand.