How and what reporting verbs to use in IELTS essays?
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Reporting verbs for IELTS Writing Task 2

Reporting verbs in IELTS Writing Task 2

Academic writing requires you to refer to the original source when you have used someone else’s ideas or concepts in your writing. One of the most common ways to incorporate these citations into your writing is to use reporting verbs to present the information. In IELTS Writing Task 2, candidates often have to express more than one point of view, especially when writing introductions and statements for their essays.

There is a wide variety of reporting verbs in the English language, which can be used in your essays. Let’s have a look at them and study some examples.

Why use reporting verbs? 

Reporting verbs can be tentative, neutral, or emphatic. They tell us that someone said something. In writing, these verbs demonstrate our opinion of someone’s ideas:

  • whether we agree that the opinion is correct
  • whether we have a neutral attitude towards what was said
  • whether we think that the opinion is wrong.

Let’s have a look at some examples of the reporting verbs and choose the stronger ones:

  • Many people insist that there is one ‘best’ variety of English.
  • Many people argue that there is one ‘best’ variety of English.
  • Some people doubt the value of bilingual education.
  • Some people deny the value of bilingual education.

Each reporting verb has a slightly different meaning, so you have to be aware of and try to use a range of reporting verbs, depending on the statement you are making.

There are lots of different verbs that we can use to describe the action of speaking. The most common reporting verbs are ‘say’, ‘tell’, and ‘state’. However, it is not a good idea to use the same verb over and over as this will not give your writing much variation. There are many other verbs you can use in your IELTS writing.

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Possible reporting verbs

General Meaning Reported Verb Strength
To express beliefs: believe strong
maintain strong
suspect weak
think neutral
Used in discussion: argue strong
assert strong
claim strong
insist strong
say neutral
To show agreement: accept neutral
acknowledge neutral
admit weak
advocate strong
agree neutral
concede weak
support strong
To show disagreement: challenge strong
deny strong
disagree neutral
dismiss strong
doubt neutral
To give suggestions: imply weak
suggest weak
urge strong

READ ABOUT: How to identify the type of essay in IELTS Writing Task 2?

Tentative verbs are used when the author isn’t sure of their idea. Neutral verbs are used in an essay in place of ‘say’ or ‘tell’. Strong verbs are used when the author is very sure of their opinion. All of the verbs above can be used in IELTS essays.  

Here are some examples of how the reporting verbs can be used in sentences:

  • It is claimed that graffiti is a modern art that should be accepted by society. Yet, others maintain the idea that this phenomenon is a crime and should be punished accordingly.
  • Although many people think that technological development is unstoppable, it is not true. 
  • It is claimed that robots should receive legal status, but there are those who strongly disagree with this idea.
  • In various nations around the world, many people advocate taking a gap year in order to work or travel before beginning one’s tertiary education. 
  • It is argued by some that the death penalty benefits a nation. I completely agree with this opinion and in this essay, I will state the reasons for my view. 
  • Critics argue that such frivolity is a misuse of precious funds. However, I personally believe the opposite.
  • Some people suspect that within a century, there will be only two or three languages spoken in the world.

Reporting verbs for IELTS Writing Task 2

The grammar of reporting verbs

Different reporting verbs are followed by different structures. Here are the most common structures with examples:

Pattern Verbs
reporting verb+that+clause admit, accept, acknowledge, agree, assume, argue, believe, claim, insist, maintain, deny, disagree, advocate, urge, etc.
reporting verb+whether+clause question, doubt, etc.
reporting verb+preposition+noun/noun phrase object to, disagree with, insist on etc.
reporting verb+noun/noun phrase support, advocate, consider, dismiss, etc.
reporting verb+gerund suggest, advocate, etc.
reporting verb+object+infinitive verb urge

For example:

  • It is claimed that graffiti is a modern art that should be accepted by society. 
  • Others question whether the authorities should do something about it. 
  • I object to the policy of government subsidies.
  • Many people advocate taking a gap year.
  • I would urge the government to subsidise...

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As you can see there are many cases when reporting verbs can be used in your essay, and they can really help you demonstrate the range of your vocabulary to the examiner as well as express your ideas and thoughts effectively. Find more useful grammar and vocabulary issues in our blog:

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