This page outlines how to use negative, positive and neutral reporting verbs when quoting sources or statistics to communicate the reliability of the information being presented

Reporting Verbs

In argument and research essays, you have to report your sources using "reporting verbs," but not all verbs are created equal. Take a look at the following sentences:

Adams' research suggests that playing violent video games could cause players to become violent in the future.

Adams' research demonstrates that playing video games causes players to become violent in the future.

Both sentences are reporting on the same research. Which do you think is stronger? Which do you think I agree with? Reporting verbs allow the writer subtly convey to the reader what he or she considers most credible. In the sentences above, the use of the reporting verb "suggests" makes it clear that the writer believes the research is open to question. The use of the reporting verb, "demonstrates," tells the reader that the research is not open to interpretation. Reporting verbs can be extremely powerful in framing arguments.

Generally, reporting verbs fall into three categories: Negative, for arguments the author probably disagrees with; neutral, in which the author is simply presenting research; and positive, used when the author strongly supports the argument.

Below are some examples:

Negative: suggests, speculates, intimates, hypothesizes, implies, posits that

Neutral: describes, shows, reveals, demonstrates, states, indicates

Positive: argues, emphasizes, asserts, refutes, rejects

Also, notice the use of the modal "could cause" in the first example. Again, use of the modal makes the result seem "tentative." In the second example, we use the active verbs, "causes," which removes that sense of being tentative.

Both reporting verbs and the use of modals can be used both to strengthen your argument and to weaken your opponent's argument.