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National College of Ireland


Academic Writing Skills Guide: Reporting Verbs

Why Reporting Verbs Matter 

Academic writing in college often requires you to use multiple information sources and to evaluate the quality of the ideas from these sources; one way of doing this is to use reporting verbs.

These verbs can help to show whether you agree or disagree with the author, reflecting your own attitudes to the information you are using and allowing you to voice your opinions better in your assignments.

Using reporting verbs also helps to develop your critical thinking skills, demonstrate your understanding of the material and improve your grades.

Reporting verbs can be used to indicate: 

  • the original author’s personal viewpoint 
  • your viewpoint regarding what the author says 
  • the author’s viewpoint regarding research from other authors


When including a quotation or paraphrase in your writing, reference the source and add a verb that describes the way in which the idea is expressed by the author. When looking to indicate your own opinion about the source material, your choice of reporting verb can also show the reader how you feel about the research you are citing and the level of certainty or caution you attach to it. You can report your belief that you agree with the author(s), you are sceptical of or disagree with the author(s) or take a cautious/neutral attitude (that is, neither substantially agree or disagree).  

Generally speaking, you should be focusing your attention on up-to-date material so use the present tense for your reporting verbs. However, if reporting on the results of past research or if you are presenting the development of ideas in a chronological context, you may use the past tense for older sources if relevant. 

By widening your vocabulary and developing a bank of words to help introduce information from your sources, you can find more ways to express your opinion when reporting information. Knowing the verbs is one thing but knowing how to use them correctly is another. Reporting verbs fit into different sentence patterns – make sure that you check how a particular verb is generally used in sentences. 

Below is a selection of reporting verbs to incorporate into your writing – as you will see, some verbs can be used in more than one instance.
accepts acknowledges admits advocates affirms agrees
allows analyses applauds approves argues assents
asserts attests believes claims clarifies concedes
concludes concurs confirms congratulates considers contends
declares defends defines demonstrates elucidates emphasises
endorses establishes evidences explains extols finds
grants highlights holds identifies illuminates illustrates
indicates insists maintains observes offers outlines
persuades points out praises proclaims proposes proves
qualifies reasons recognises recommends refutes relates
reveals shows stresses supports theorises uncovers
upholds verifies warrants      
accepts according to acknowledges adds advises agrees
appears argues articulates asserts assumes assures
believes challenges claims clarifies comments concludes
concurs confirms considers contends conveys critiques
declares defines demonstrates describes details determines
discovers discusses emphasises encourages establishes examines
explains explores expresses feels finds focuses on
goes on to say that highlights holds hypothesises identifies illustrates
implies indicates infers informs interprets intimates
justifies knows maintains makes clear mentions moots
notes observes outlines points out/to posits (the view that) postulates
presents professes proposes proves questions the view that quotes that
realises reasons recognises recommends records regards
relates remarks reminds reports reveals says
seems sees shows speculates states studies
subscribes to suggests takes into consideration thinks upholds uses
views writes        
alludes to analyses asks assesses assumes believes
concludes considers examines finds implies insinuates
observes predicts proposes reveals shows speculates
suggests supposes        
adds clarifies concurs continues declares explores
insists maintains persists proceeds states further underscores
accuses alleges apologises argues assaults asserts
assumes attacks believes belittles bemoans challenges
charges claims comments complains condemns confuses
conjectures contends contests contradicts counters the view that criticises
critiques debates denies deplores deprecates derides
differs disagrees discards disclaims discounts dismisses
disputes disregards dissents doubts generalises guesses
hopes ignores insists intimates justifies laments
maintains negates objects to opposes questions rebuts
refutes rejects speculates supposes surmises warns
advises advocates alleges asserts assumes claims
finds figures gathers hypothesises implies indicates
infers intimates observes posits postulates presumes
proposes recommends speculates suggests supposes surmises
theorises urges        
alerts applauds argues asserts boasts congratulates
contends convinces emphasises engages exhorts extols
forbids guarantees insists persuades praises proves
promises reiterates stresses supports threatens underscores
upholds warns        
closes concludes confirms decides determines discovers
emphasises finds finishes infers points to proves
realises recommends reveals shows summarises terminates
advocates argues asserts considers contends disputes
feels hypothesises implies maintains opines posits
proposes reasons theorises thinks    
answers remarks repeats replies responds restates

There are many alternatives to these. Try the Review – Thesaurus function in Word to see synonyms for any word you are not sure about, or to avoid over-using a verb. However, avoid using words found in a thesaurus that are not part of your normal vocabulary or that you are not sure about, as you may misuse them. 

Consult Academic Phrasebank for further helpful phraseology suitable for referring to sources.

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