120% Font Size Sharper Font Color

1. What are reporting verbs? Reporting verbs are used in academic writing to describe or report on others’ works.

2. Why are they important?
Fundamentally, you can use them for two purposes:
1) To report what a writer has done or believes
2) To express your own attitude towards something a writer has said or done

Examples of the use of reporting verbs:
Johnson (2007) suggests that people who see themselves as lucky are in fact lucky, because they take advantage of more opportunities
Johnson (2007) discusses whether people who see themselves as lucky are in fact lucky, because they take advantage of more opportunities.

There is a wide variety of reporting verbs in the English Language. Below is a list of reporting verbs for reference.

accept
accuse
acknowledge
add
admit
advise
agree
announce
apologise
argue
assure
beg
blame
claim
comment
complain
concede
confirm
consider
critique
decide
declare
demand
demonstrate
deny
disagree
encourage
estimate
explain
imply
indicate
inform
inquire
insist
mention
observe
persuade
postulate
promise
propose
recognize
recommend
refute
remark
report
retort
reveal
show
speculate
suggest
support
suppose
warn


Reporting Verb Definition
accept: to receive with approval or favour
according to: in a manner conforming to; or as stated by
accuse: to find fault with; blame
acknowledge: to show or express recognition or realization of
add: to say or write further
admit: to confess to be true or the case
advise: to offer suggestions about the best course of action to someone
agree: to have the same opinion about something
announce: to make known or to proclaim
apologise: to offer an apology or excuse for some fault
argue: to present reasons for or against something
assure: to declare earnestly to; to tell someone something positively to dispel any doubts
beg: to ask someone earnestly or humbly for something
blame: to hold responsible; to find fault with
claim: to state or stress that something is the case, typically without providing evidence
comment: to make remarks, observations or criticisms
complain: to express dissatisfaction or annoyance about something
concede: to acknowledge as true
confirm: to acknowledge with definite assurance
consider: to think carefully on a matter
critique: a detailed analysis and assessment of something
decide: to come to a resolution in the mind as a result of consideration
declare: to make known or state clearly
demand: the act or demanding and asking especially with authority
demonstrate: to show the truth of something that has been observed or investigated
deny: to state that something is not true
disagree: to have or express a different opinion
encourage: to persuade someone to do or continue to do something by giving support and advice
estimate: an approximate calculation or judgment of the value or extent of something
explain: to make an idea or situation clear to someone by describing it in great detail
imply: to indicate or suggest without being explicitly stated
indicate: to point out or show something
inform: to give or convey knowledge
inquire: to seek information by questioning
insist: to assert or maintain firmly
mention: to refer to something briefly without going into detail
observe: to perceive or notice; to make a remark
persuade: to induce someone to do something through advising and urging
postulate: to claim or assume the existence or truth of, especially as a basis forreasoning or arguing.
promise: to declare that something will or will not be done
propose: to offer or suggest a matter or idea for consideration
recognise: to acknowledge or accept the existence or validity of something
recommend: to mention favourably
refute: to prove a statement or theory to be wrong; to disprove
remark: to say something or to mention
report: to give an account of something that has been observed or investigated
retort: to answer or reply by a counter argument
reveal: to make previously unknown information known
show: demonstrate or prove an idea
speculate: to engage in thought or reflection
suggest: to put forward for consideration
support: to agree with or approve or something or someone
suppose: to believe that something is true
warn: to tell someone about possible dangers or trouble

NB: Make sure you know the definition of the reporting verb and also when and how to use it in an academic paper.


Functions of reporting verbs

When using reporting verbs in writing, it is important to know its functions. Reporting verbs may be used to comment on someone’s works, agree or disagree on someone’s idea, or explain someone’s research. Below is a list of functions and its definitions.

agreement the state of being with the same opinion
advice to offer advice, guidance or recommendation
argument an exchange of opposite views, usually in a heated argument
description to give an account of a person, object or event
disagreement to show lack of consensus or approval
discussion the act of talking about something in order to reach a consensus
emphasis to give special attention or value to something
evaluation to make a judgment about something or to make an assessment
explanation to use a statement or account to make something clear
presentation to show or present something or an idea
suggestion to put forward an idea or plan for consideration

In addition to its functions, reporting verbs also differ in terms of their strength; for example, 'to suggest' is much weaker, and more tentative, than 'to argue'. The two verbs convey very different pictures about how the author you are studying sees his or her materials and research.

  1. Some reporting verbs show that an author believes strongly in what they say. These are called strong reporting verbs.
  2. There is a group of verbs that writers use to show that they may believe something, but they still wish to be hesitant. These are called tentative reporting verbs.
  3. A third group of verbs is used to describe or report what a writer says as a statement of fact. These are called neutral reporting verbs


  Tentative Neutral Strong
Addition   add  
Advice   advise  
Agreement admit, concede accept, acknowledge, agree, concur, confirm, recognise applaud, congratulate, extol, praise, support
Argument and Persuasion apologise assure, encourage, interpret, justify, reason alert, argue, boast, contend, convince, emphasize, exhort, forbid, insist, prove, promise, persuade, threaten, warn
Believing guess, hope, imagine believe, claim, declare, express, feel, hold, know, maintain, profess, subscribe to, think assert, guarantee, insist, uphold
Conclusion   conclude, discover, find, infer, realize  
Description confuse    
Disagreement and Questioning doubt, question challenge, debate, disagree, question, request, wonder accuse, attack, complain, contradict, criticize, deny, discard, disclaim, discount, dismiss, dispute, disregard, negate, object to, oppose, refute, reject
Discussion comment discuss, explore reason
Emphasis     accentuate, emphasize, highlight, stress, underscore, warn
Evaluation and Examination   analyse, appraise, assess, compare, consider, contrast, critique, evaluate, examine, investigate, understand blame, complain, ignore, scrutinize, warn
Explanation   articulate, clarify, explain  
Presentation confuse comment, define, describe, estimate, forget, identify, illustrate, imply, inform, instruct, list, mention, notes, observes, outline, point out, present, remark, remind, report, restate, reveal, show, state, study, tell, use announce, promise
Suggestion allege, intimidate, speculate advise, advocate, hypothesize, posit, postulate, propose, suggest, theorize assert, recommend, urge
The table is adapted from the following source:
http://www.adelaide.edu.au/writingcentre/learning_guides/learningGuide_verbsForReporting.pdf

NB: It is important to note that reporting verbs fit into different sentence patterns and that some can fit into more than one.

Structure 1: reporting verb + that + main idea
Bran (1999) argues that providing safe drinking water will improve the situation of deaths by cholera in Africa.

Hilton (1999) believes that euthanasia should be legalised as “everyone has an explicit right to die”.

As a long-time supporter of euthanasia, Amis (2010) agrees that ‘booths’ should be set up on every street corner for easy access to those who wish to terminate their life”.

In his research on alcohol and its effect on liver functions, Butler (2012) claims that females are more susceptible to the development of cirrhosis by twenty-five percent.

Striker (2009) maintains that the minimum age to attain a driving licence should be at 18 years old, because international studies show that driver’s younger than this are more likely to be the cause of an accident.

Kim (2009) acknowledges that economic reform is essential in order to revitalise consumer confidence.

Barker (2014) suggests that one reason for the increase in investor visa applications in Australia is due to Xi Jin Ping’s anti-graft campaign.


Structure 2: reporting verb + preposition (as/to/for/with/of)

Marx (2014) defines technology as “the greatest invention of mankind”.

In his research, Liu (2013) compares the paparazzi’s intrusion of privacy to sexual assault.

Plush (2013) blames the lack of provincial monetary support for the spread of HIV in Tanzania.

Butters (2011) disagrees with Parkers (2010) that the shift in tectonic plates causes atmospheric instability.

Ruth (1988) warns of possible setbacks in the South Korea’s national stability if the government does not join forces with the American military.


Structure 3: reporting verb + noun (noun phrase)

Miller (2010) supports the legalisation of gay marriages in Hong Kong.

Quill (1988) discusses the positive effects of meditation as a treatment for anxiety sufferers in solitary confinement.

Davidson (1992) identifies the implementation of capital punishment as a necessity for deterring crime.

In his discussion on child brides in Yemen, Telling (2011) highlights the role of government authorities and Islamic Leaders on this growing problem.

Johns (1999) validates the argument that Pilates is more suitable for healing spinal injuries than chiropractic procedures during pregnancy.

Chan (2014) applauds the Hong Kong Students Union for their stance on attaining universal suffrage.

Toms (1982) challenges the common belief that humans have five senses. In his research, he finds that there are in fact nine senses.

Copyright© 2012-2015 UGC ICOSA Project, Hong Kong. All rights reserved.