Signal Verbs: The Use of Various Verbs

In most citation styles, the writer can add proof to their research by introducing quotations or paraphrases found in different sources. For this purpose, a useful tool which helps make writing more vivid and descriptive exists, it is called signal verbs. These are words which indicate how an individual is expressing their ideas and views. Such verbs are used as a way for giving context to the text, indicating agreement or disagreement, points of view, and other emotions. Moreover, these words introduce quotes, or references to other sources. These verbs are specific, and they help to understand the implied meaning of the text. It is important to remember to be attentive to each verb’s usage aspects.

Signal phrases help to introduce the source which is used in the text, and they permit readers to distinguish between quotes and the ideas of the author. It is important not to put citations into text without proper introduction or explanation. Each argument in the paper must be supported, and show how paraphrases and quotes prove the ideas, which is an integral part of writing. Signal verbs help to indicate the opinion of the author about the material.

The most common word is “say”, and it is often overused. There are many other verbs offering more creative ways for showing the approaching quote or other person’s opinion. Some of those words are objective, while others imply a more emotional connotation, and, thus, should be used carefully. Among the objective verbs are: illustrate, indicate, suppose, suggest, and many others. The examples of the emotionally-colored words are: charge, assert, and complain.

The use of various verbs allows avoiding being monotonous. For example, to stress weakness in a quoted argument one may choose the words “admits” or “concedes” to show the point. There are words which help introduce the focus of the author, such as “emphasize”, “highlight”, and “focus on”. Moreover, these verbs often give readers an opportunity to understand the context in which the statement should be treated. There are words that have a neutral connotation, such as “define”, “suggest”, “illustrate”, “demonstrate”, “observe”, “mention”, “comment” and others. Other verbs intend to give the phrase a more negative, or argumentative shade, among the examples are “fear”, “dispute”, “argue”, “insists”, “reject”, “deny”, “contradict”, “critique”, and others. Such words are typically used to show the disagreement or negative opinions.

Sometimes, using a more natural word is better in order to convey the meaning of uncertainty. For instance, if one chooses a word “say” instead of “prove”, they are implying that the author provided the thesis without any supporting facts. From this perspective, it is important to make sure that each signal verb matches the situation, and consists with the intention of the author. It is preferable to read the whole sentence after it is written to check if the signal word coheres with the quote or paraphrase following it.

In conclusion, signal verbs are an essential tool for all the writing styles. They allow giving emotional connotation to statements, helping readers to understand the implied meaning of the text. There are a big number of words for different occasions, and one should be careful while using the signal verbs, as all of them have specific meanings. However, when a writer comprehends the subject, signal verbs serve as a formidable instrument which allows creating a certain atmosphere in the text.

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"Signal Verbs: The Use of Various Verbs." ChalkyPapers, 20 July 2023,


ChalkyPapers. (2023) 'Signal Verbs: The Use of Various Verbs'. 20 July.


ChalkyPapers. 2023. "Signal Verbs: The Use of Various Verbs." July 20, 2023.

1. ChalkyPapers. "Signal Verbs: The Use of Various Verbs." July 20, 2023.


ChalkyPapers. "Signal Verbs: The Use of Various Verbs." July 20, 2023.