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Verbs of Attribution
Using Verbs of Attribution in Academic WritingVerbs of attribution (also known as "reporting verbs" or "lead-in verbs") are used to quote or paraphrase another source. For example:
Quoting Another Source
- Charles Q Choi argues that "most of Earth's water came from asteroids, not comets." (Quoting someone means using their exact words.)
Paraphrasing Another Source
- According to Charles Q Choi, it was asteroids, not comets, that filled the Earth's oceans. (Paraphrasing someone means using your own words to offer a close repeat of their words. Do not use quotation marks when paraphrasing.)
Citing others is a key skill for students and academics, who are routinely required to evaluate the quality of other people's ideas in order to frame their own. Using the right verb to introduce an idea is the starting point for applying your Critical Thinking skills.
Choosing the Right VerbThe verb you choose for the citation is important because it establishes the context for your observation, either via its meaning or its connotation. Such contexts include:
- agreement, disagreement, support, explanation, argument, suggestion, examination, emphasis, conclusion
Verbs That Express Neutrality
- accepts, agrees, concludes, describes, expresses, recognizes, reports, thinks
Verbs That Express Positivity
- accentuates, affirms, clarifies, convinces, discovers, proves, reveals, stresses, supports
Verbs That Express Negativity
- accuses, alleges, claims, confuses, doubts, hopes, maintains, insinuates, intimates, speculates
Verbs of Attribution by Category
- announces, articulates, clarifies, comments, confuses, defines, describes, estimates, explains, identifies, illustrates, implies, informs, instructs, lists, mentions, notes, observes, outlines, points out, presents, remarks, reminds, reports, restates, reveals, shows, states, tells
- alerts, argues, assures, contends, convinces, emphasizes, exhorts, insists, interprets, proves, reasons, warns
- acknowledges, accepts, admits, agrees, applauds, concedes, concurs, confirms, extols, praises, recognizes, supports
- accuses, challenges, contradicts, criticizes, discards, dismisses, disputes, disregards, opposes, questions, reasons, refutes, rejects
- asserts, believes, claims, declares, expresses, feels, holds, insists, maintains, professes, thinks, upholds
- advises, advocates, alleges, asserts, comments, hypothesizes, intimates, posits, postulates, proposes, recommends, speculates, suggests, theorizes
- analyzes, appraises, assesses, compares, considers, contrasts, critiques, discusses, evaluates, examines, explores, investigates, scrutinizes
- accentuates, emphasizes, highlights, stresses, underscores
- concludes, discovers, finds, infers, realizes
Using Verbs of Attribution
Choosing the TenseVerbs are attribution are usually written in the present tense, most commonly in the third person singular. For example:
- Albert Einstein agrees that... (The verb "to agree" is in the present tense, third person singular.)
- Albert Einstein and Arthur Patschke agree that... (The verb "to agree" is in the present tense, third person plural.)
- After these observations, Albert Einstein and Arthur Patschke concluded that...
Using Quotation Marks with "That"Remember! Quotation marks are only used to cite the actual words spoken or written. Watch out for the word "that."
- Albert Einstein claims that "the environment is everything that isn't me." (Notice the word "that" is not part of the quotation. Einstein did not use the word "that." It is part of your sentence structure, not his.)
- Albert Einstein claims "that the environment is everything that isn't me." (Including "that" in the quotation is wrong.)
- Albert Einstein claims "The environment is everything that isn't me."
There is more about this subject in these lessons:
- What punctuation should I used before a quotation?
- Should I start a quotation with a capital letter?
Identifying the AuthorIf you think it helps your readers, tell them who the author is by using an appositive offset with commas.
- Charles Q Choi, an American science reporter for the New York Times, argues that "most of Earth's water came from asteroids, not comets."
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