Understanding Reporting Verbs in English

Reporting verbs are used to communicate information from other sources, such as books and articles. You should use such information to support what you are saying in your own writing or when you are discussing the ideas of another writer. For example:

In 1996, Thomas Green, a well-known ecologist, said, "Global warming is slowly but surely becoming a major crisis."

Green claims that ocean water will rise as ice melts in the North and South Poles.

In the above examples, the reporting verbs are said and claims. The first example is a direct quotation, using quotation marks (" "), while the second example is an indirect quotation, in which quotation marks are not used and the author's exact words are not required (although the author's meaning is required).

Below are two tables of useful reporting verbs. The first table is "Stronger Reporting Verbs," which means that they have a strong and assertive tone. The second table is of "Weaker Reporting Verbs," which do not have as strong a tone. The table also shows which verbs are used to report results of research, which verbs may be used in direct quotations, and which are followed by that in indirect quotations.


Stronger Reporting Verbs
Verb Reports results? Use in direct quotation? Can be followed by that?
affirm No No Yes
allege No No Yes
argue No No Yes
assert No Yes Yes
claim No Yes Yes
contend No No Yes
demonstrate Yes No Yes
maintain No No Yes
predict No Yes Yes
predict No Yes Yes
recommend No Yes Yes
say (weak or strong, depending on what is said) No Yes Yes
show No No Yes





















Weaker Reporting Verbs
Verb Reports results? Use in direct quotation? Can be followed by that?
describe No No No
discuss No No No
explain No No Yes
hypothesize No Yes Yes
imply No No Yes
indicate No No Yes
note No Yes Yes
propose No Yes Yes
report Yes Yes Yes
say (weak or strong, depending on what is said) No Yes Yes
state No Yes Yes
suggest No Yes Yes