Welcome, learners!

Our topic for today focuses on a crucial, yet often overlooked aspect of academic writing – reporting verbs!

Now, you might wonder, what are reporting verbs and why are they so important?

Well, reporting verbs are vital in accurately representing the ideas, arguments, or findings of other authors, a task we frequently encounter in our scholarly endeavors!

So, if you’re wrestling with writing a compelling research paper, trying to make sense of how to express others’ ideas in your thesis, or simply on a mission to improve your academic English, you’ve come to the right place. Together, we’ll decode the mysteries of reporting verbs, helping you to elevate your academic writing skills.

Before we start, don’t forget to read this blog to learn tips to set yourself up for success in academic writing!

Now, make yourself comfortable and let’s get started!

What is a reporting verb?

A reporting verb, as its name suggests, is a verb that is used to report or signify the attitude or stance of the writer (or speaker) towards the information that follows. These verbs are often employed in academic writing when we want to describe or refer to other people’s work. They are an integral tool that allows us to convey how a particular piece of information, argument, or idea is presented by another author, how we interpret their point of view, or even how we want to present their ideas in relation to our own.

Reporting verbs vary in their strength, formality, and the way they frame the reported information. For example, claim, argue, suggest, state, note, observe, report, propose – these are all examples of reporting verbs, but they all imply a slightly different meaning!

For instance, if we say “Smith (2020) claims that…”, it suggests that Smith has made an assertion, but it might not be universally accepted. On the other hand, if we say “Smith (2020) notes that…”, it implies that Smith is making an observation, which could be more neutral or widely acknowledged.

Being able to select and use the correct reporting verb is crucial for non-native English speakers, as it can help you provide a more accurate representation of the sources you’re referring to. Moreover, using a variety of reporting verbs can make your writing more engaging and less repetitive. It demonstrates your command of the language and can make your arguments more nuanced and persuasive.

Neutral reporting verbs

Neutral reporting verbs are those that neither assert a strong opinion nor suggest a potential bias. They are used to present another author’s ideas or findings in an impartial, straightforward manner, often reflecting the factual nature of the reported information. Because of this neutrality, these verbs are frequently used in academic writing to provide objective descriptions of sources.

Now, let’s get straight to the examples, shall we?

  • State:  To  express something definitely or clearly   

Brown (2023) states that the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent.

  • Note:  To  make brief, casual, or incidental reference or observation

In his study, Jenkins (2022) notes that the patient recovery rate increased after the new treatment was introduced.

  • Observe: To watch carefully, with attention to detail for the purpose of arriving at a judgement.

Chang et al (2023) observed a significant change in the cells under the influence of x drug.

  • Report: To give an account or representation of in words, often based on personal observation or the recounting of others.

According to a study reported by Wang (2023), the use of renewable energy is on the rise.

  • Describe: To represent or give an account of in words.

In her latest book, Smith (2023) describes the evolving landscape of artificial intelligence in healthcare.

  • Outline: To give a summary of something or provide an overview.

Johnson and White (2023) outline the main stages involved in the data collection process.

  • Express: To put into words or articulate.

In his article, Lewis (2022) expresses concerns about the rising levels of pollution in major cities.

  • Remark: To make a spontaneous observation.

Diaz (2023) remarks on the dramatic increase in digital marketing campaigns.

  • Define: To state the precise meaning of a word, phrase, concept, or physical quantity.

In her thesis, Bennett (2022) defines ‘social inertia’ as the resistance to societal change.

  • Present: To bring something to the attention of others without adding personal opinion.

In his book, Miller (2022) presents the latest research on brain plasticity.

These verbs are generally considered neutral, as they don’t imply a strong judgment or personal viewpoint from the writer. However, the neutrality or otherwise of a reporting verb can often depend on the context in which it’s used.

Now, let’s move on to…

Tentative reporting verb

Tentative reporting verbs, sometimes also referred to as “hedging” verbs, are used to introduce a degree of uncertainty or caution into the statements we make. This can be especially useful in academic writing when the writer wants to present a claim or finding that may not be conclusively proven or universally accepted.

These verbs allow the writer to suggest that the ideas or findings they are presenting are possible or probable, rather than definite or absolute. This helps to demonstrate a sense of academic humility, acknowledging the complexity and uncertainty that often characterizes scholarly research.

  • Suggest: This verb implies that the author is putting forth a possibility or hypothesis, rather than a certain fact.

The data from Nguyen’s study (2022) suggests a potential link between sleep deprivation and decreased cognitive performance.

  • Speculate: This verb indicates that the author is making an educated guess based on the available evidence.

In their discussion, Lee and Kim (2023) speculate that further increases in global temperatures could result in more frequent and severe weather events.

  • Seem: This verb suggests that the author is making an observation that appears to be true, but might not be confirmed.

The findings of Patel’s research (2024) seem to support the hypothesis that regular exercise can reduce stress levels.

  • Indicate: This verb can also imply a certain degree of uncertainty, suggesting that the evidence points in a particular direction but is not conclusive.

The results of the experiment indicate a possible interaction between the two chemicals, but further research is needed.

  • Hypothesize: This verb shows that the author is proposing a theory or explanation that is yet to be definitively proven.

Smith and Johnson (2023) hypothesize that the decline in bee populations is linked to increased pesticide use.

  • Question: This verb is used when the author challenges or casts doubt on a theory, idea, or finding.

In her recent work, Gomez (2023) questions the effectiveness of traditional teaching methods in today’s digital age.

By using these and other tentative reporting verbs appropriately, you can accurately represent the uncertainty or conditionality that often characterizes scholarly research, and demonstrate your own understanding of these nuances!

Now, it’s time to talk about….

Agreement or in favour reporting verbs 

Agreement reporting verbs are used in academic writing to introduce or refer to sources in a way that indicates a strong positive judgment, agreement, or endorsement. These verbs suggest that the writer strongly supports or approves of the ideas, arguments, or findings they are presenting.

Let’s go right into the examples!

  • Advocate: This verb is used when the author strongly supports or recommends a particular policy, idea, or course of action.

In his recent book, Roberts (2023) advocates for a shift towards renewable energy sources to combat climate change.

  • Assert: This verb is used when the author declares or states something with great conviction.

Johnson (2024) asserts that solar energy is the future of sustainable living.

  • Argue: This verb is used when the author gives reasons or cites evidence in support of an idea, action, or theory.

In her latest paper, Smith (2023) argues that a plant-based diet leads to better overall health.

  • Believe: This verb indicates the author’s conviction or acceptance that certain facts or ideas are true or valid.

Despite conflicting opinions, Miller (2023) believes that traditional education models still have value.

  • Stress: This verb is used when the author highlights or emphasizes an important fact or detail.

Chang and White (2023) stress the urgent need for policy changes in response to climate change.

  • Conclude: This verb is used when the author forms a final judgment or decision based on reasoning or evidence.

Based on the experimental data, Kim (2022) concludes that the new treatment is effective.

  • Emphasize: This verb is used when the author gives special importance or value to a statement or idea in speaking or writing.

Patel (2023) emphasizes the critical role of regular exercise in maintaining good health.

  • Declare: This verb is used when the author formally or explicitly states something as a fact or belief.

The United Nations (2022) declares climate change as the biggest challenge of the 21st century.

  • Prove: This verb is used when the author demonstrates the truth or existence of something through evidence or argument. It’s a strong verb and should only be used when there’s solid evidence to back up the claim.

Through extensive testing, Dr. Singh (2023) proves the efficacy of the new drug in treating the disease.

These verbs are generally used when the author wants to show some degree of acceptance or validation towards the referenced idea, fact, or statement. However, as always, the context and the author’s intent can slightly modify the exact implication of the verb used.

Disagreement or against reporting verbs

Disagreement or “against” reporting verbs are used in academic writing when the author wants to show opposition or conflict with the ideas or findings they’re discussing. They indicate that the author disagrees, disputes, or is challenging the statements or conclusions made in the source material. These verbs can be useful for presenting counterarguments, criticizing theories or methods, or highlighting controversy or debate in the field.

Here are some examples:

  • Dispute: This verb is used when the author questions the truth or validity of a fact, argument, or viewpoint.

Robinson (2023) disputes the claim that global warming is a natural occurrence.

  • Challenge: This verb is used when the author disputes the truth or validity of a particular statement or finding.

In their recent paper, Smith and Brown (2022) challenge the effectiveness of traditional teaching methods.

  • Criticize: his verb indicates that the author finds fault with, expresses disapproval of, or argues against a theory, method, or finding.

Smith (2024) criticizes the lack of controls in the experimental design of the study.

  • Reject: This verb is used when the author refuses to accept, believe, or make use of a theory, argument, or finding.

Dr. Lee (2023) rejects the notion that technology is the primary cause of social isolation.

  • Contest: This verb is used when the author opposes or fights against a statement or conclusion because they believe it’s not valid or true.

Johnson (2023) contests the conclusion that income level is the only factor influencing educational success.

  • Refute: This verb is used when the author proves a statement, theory, or finding to be wrong or false.  

In her recent study, Chen (2023) refutes the theory that childhood vaccines cause autism.

  • Caution: This verb indicates that the author advises carefulness or restraint regarding a certain matter.

Dr. Kim (2022) cautions against the overuse of antibiotics due to the risk of developing antibiotic resistance.

  • Doubt: This verb is used when the author questions or feels uncertain about a certain fact or theory, or idea.

In his latest publication, Anderson (2023) expresses doubt about the effectiveness of the new tax reforms.

  • Oppose: This verb is used when the author disagrees with or resists a plan, theory, or action.  

In their research, Liu and Chen (2022) oppose the popular belief that video games lead to violent behavior.

Using these verbs effectively can help to present a balanced and nuanced perspective in your academic writing. They can also help to highlight areas of controversy or ongoing debate within your field. As always, though, these verbs should be used responsibly, ensuring that any disagreement or caution is well-justified by the available evidence.


In conclusion, having a clear understanding of reporting verbs and their subtle differences is a crucial skill in academic writing. Whether you’re agreeing, disagreeing, stating facts, or speculating, the verbs you choose to introduce other authors’ work can have a significant impact on how your arguments are perceived.

Remember, it’s always essential to read widely and notice how experienced writers use reporting verbs. The more you read, the more familiar you will become with these verbs, and the better you will be at using them in your own writing!

Keep on reading, writing, and learning!

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