Reporting Verbs

Reporting Verbs

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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? Reporting verbs allow the writer to convey what he or she considers most credible. The use of the reporting verb "suggests" makes it clear that the writer believes the research is open to question. The use of "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 categories:

1) Negative (for arguments the author probably disagrees with):

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

2) Neutral (for facts the other is merely presenting without judgement):

describes, asserts, reveals, argues, states, indicates

3) Positive (used when the writer strongly supports the argument):

found that, demonstrates, shows, reports, emphasizes

4) Positive/Negative (writer strongly supports arguments challenging opponent):

refutes, rejects

Also, in the first example, notice the use of the modal could cause. The use of the modal makes the result seem tentative. In the second example, we use the active verbs, causes, makes the result seem far more solid.

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