What are reporting verbs? They are advanced ways to show your stance or opinion on what you have read. Reporting verbs, also known as referring verbs, are verbs which are used when you report or refer to another writer's work. They are needed to connect the in-text citation to the information which you are citing.
Sharpling (2012) points out that reporting verbs have subtle differences in meaning.
University of Adelaide (2014) states that using the same reporting verb all the time is both repetitive and boring.
Note that According to is another common way to refer to a writer's work. This is not a reporting verb, but is used in the same way.
Strength of reporting verbs
Reporting verbs vary in terms of strength. Consider the following examples.
Smith (2016) assumes that reporting verbs have different strengths.
Smith (2016) insists that reporting verbs have different strengths.
Although both verbs have the same general meaning, namely believe, the verb assume is quite weak, while the verb insist is much stronger.
Grammar of reporting verbs
Reporting verbs are often followed by a that clause. However, not all verbs follow this pattern. It is important, when using reporting verbs, to check the grammar usage to make sure that your writing is accurate. Consider the following examples.
Smith (2016) insists that reporting verbs have different strengths. [insist + that]
Smith (2016) agrees with Sharpling (2012) that reporting verbs have subtle differences in meaning. [agree with sb]
Smith (2016) challenges writers to use reporting verbs accurately. [challenge sb to do something]
Note that it is usually acceptable to use reporting verbs in either the past or present tense. The present tense is more common as this brings the past research into the present and therefore makes it more current and important. There may, however, be special requirements for your course, so it is always useful to check the style guide for assignments.
Check out this video on reporting verbs for more explanations and examples.
Examples of reporting verbs
The table on the left lists some of the most common reporting verbs. They are listed according to their general meaning. Usage and strength are also given. Verbs which are in the same cell have the same general meaning, usage and strength (e.g. admit and concede both mean agree, are both followed by that clauses, and are both weak verbs).