Essay Writing and Verbs

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Academic Vocabulary
Referring to source material; expressing your ‘stance’

When you refer to other people’s words or ideas you use ‘referring verbs’: Smith (2007) asserts that branding has become a part of everyday life. Ford (2010) denies that the role of management has changed the last 100 years. These results are supported by Arnold’s study (2008). Addams (2003) reports that most teenagers spend 3-5 hours a day online.

The verb you choose, however, can tell the reader the position of the writer whose ideas you are using, AND your position about the writer (your ‘stance’)
In the examples above, what do the reporting verbs tell you about the writer’s position?

In the examples below, what do the reporting verbs tell you about the student’s position about Locke’s work? Locke (2009) says that the environmental concerns are exaggerated. Locke (2009) suggests that the environmental concerns are exaggerated. Locke (2009) presents the case that the environmental concerns are exaggerated.

In essays, sometimes you just need to report the information. In those cases it is fine to use expressions such as: states that, says that, reports that, discusses, explains, describes
For your writing to have a critical/analytical edge, however, you will need to use reporting verbs that show how the researchers respond to other researchers, and how you feel about their claims.
The table on the next page will give you some examples of useful reporting verbs.

Reporting verbs for academic writing

Practice:
Choose appropriate reporting verbs from the table and use them to write up the student’s notes provided. The first one is done as an example:

1. Morton (2007): technology is changing the way people think (other writers have already said it has changed the way people work) Morton (2007) adds that technology is changing the way people think.

2. Lee (2003): these issues arose early in the study.

3. Kon (1992): thinks maybe we are influenced by the moon

4. Kon (1992): thinks maybe we are…