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Reporting Verbs

Often you will be referring to the research of others when you are academic writing and is known as a secondary source. Reporting verbs are used in academic writing to describe or report on others’ works.

A word that is used to discuss other people’s work or is a reporting verb.

Reporting verbs have two main functions:

  • To report the author’s viewpoint and what they have done
  • Your perspectives and opinion of what the writer has said or done

Every reporting verb has a slightly subtle difference in meaning, and this can be a challenge when you have used someone else’s ideas or concepts.

Using the correct reporting verb is often reliant upon your interpretation of what the author’s message is.

Presenting an argument in academic writing

Present a logical and rational argument in your academic writing. 

Your ability to do the following may be assessed:

– agree or disagree with someone else’s study

– evaluate and comment on someone’s idea.

It is dull and monotonous to read ‘Brown says…’ repeatedly when there are plentiful engaging reporting verbs in English.

To ensure the author’s original message and intentions are kept as accurately as possible. Refer to your dictionary to make sure that you are using the correct verb.

Reporting verbs can indicate:

– the author’s viewpoint

– your position on what the author is saying

– the author’s viewpoint regarding other related research and literature.


Common reporting verbs for academic

It’s essential that you have a solid grasp of the meaning before placing a reporting verb in a sentence.

To show your attitude when citing a secondary source make sure that you are using the correct verb for your viewpoint. The reporting verb that you use depends on the message that you want to convey.


If you agree with what the author has said, use a reporting verb with a positive meaning.

Here are some examples:

  • affirms
  • analyses
  • applauds
  • argues
  • contends



When you do not agree with the author’s point of view, use a reporting verb that will indicate your opposing view.

  • accuses
  • alleges
  • apologies
  • asserts
  • comments
  • confuses
  • doubts
  • guesses
  • hopes
  • intimates
  • questions
  • speculates



When you do not agree with the author’s point of view, use a reporting verb that will indicate your opposing view.

  • accepts
  • according to
  • acknowledges
  • adds
  • agrees
  • assures
  • claims
  • concludes
  • confirms
  • describes
  • expresses
  • maintains
  • recognises
  • reports
  • says
  • stays
  • thinks

Verbs that indicate what the author's actions

Indicate the author’s thinking.

  • assume
  • believe
  • consider
  • predict
  • recognise


Indicate the author is showing something.

  • demonstrate
  • estimates
  • explain
  • illustrate
  • indicate
  • observes
  • reports
  • shows
  • states


Indicates the author is proving something.

  • confirm
  • establish
  • indicate
  • prove
  • validate
  • verify


Indicates what the author did.

  • analyse
  • apply
  • estimate
  • evaluate
  • examine
  • find
  • investigate
  • observe
  • study

Watch the following video

The following brief video (0.33) suggests reporting verbs for accurately portraying the author’s meaning.


Complete the following interactive activities on reporting verbs