Reporting Verbs in English: List with Examples & Exercises

Reporting verbs are used when you want to tell someone about another conversation. We also call this reported speech or indirect speech. Two examples of reporting verbs are say and tell. There are many others and these have different meanings and grammar structures. In this study guide, we’ll look at examples of these verbs and show you how to use them correctly. We’ll also look at reporting verbs to improve your academic writing. Let’s go!

report verbs

What are reporting verbs?

Reporting verbs list.

  • How do I use them?

Reporting verbs in academic writing

  • Test your knowledge: exercises

How to practise English online

What you will learn: 

Reporting verbs (or referring verbs) are words used to report about (or refer to) what another person has said, written or done. These verbs are used in reported speech, which can be direct or indirect.

The first reporting verbs that English students learn are usually say and tell . For example compare i) and ii) below:

  • “It’s my birthday next weekend. Please, make a birthday cake for me!” Charlotte said to her mum ( direct speech)

Charlotte told her mum to make a birthday cake for her. ( indirect speech)

There are many other reporting verbs in English. These can be particularly useful in formal and academic writing.

report verbs

General reporting verbs

In this table, we have listed out some common reporting verbs that are used in everyday English. To help you understand how to correctly place them in a sentence, we have put them into approximate categories based on their most common usage. However, you should remember that some of these reporting verbs can be used in difference contexts and sometimes with different grammar structures.

Academic reporting verbs

In the table below, we’ve listed out the reporting verbs in groups based on their general meanings. We have also indicated the relative “strength” of each verb. For example, if I imply (suggest/hint, weak) that you are wrong, this is very different from if I assert (state/say, strong) that you are wrong. Remember that English is seldom “black vs. white” – there are often several degrees of meaning.

How do I use reporting verbs?

Understanding what the verbs mean is generally the easiest step. You see a new word, you learn what the word means in your own language and you learn how to pronounce it in English. In actual fact, you can only really say you’ve learnt a word when you also know how to accurately use it in a sentence.

Let’s return to our example with Charlotte’s birthday cake:

 “It’s my birthday next weekend. Make a birthday cake for me,” Charlotte said to her mum ( direct speech)

Easy, right? Now let’s consider that there are many other ways that Charlotte could say this in English. Depending on what she said and how she said it, you might need to use a different reporting verb, not just say or tell . For example:

  • If you want to express the idea of “ Don’t forget ” “ Don’t forget to make a birthday cake for me.” Charlotte reminded her mum to make a cake.
  • If you want to express the idea of “ No, I don’t want to do something ” (i) “ I’m not going to make my own birthday cake!” Charlotte said that she wouldn’t make her own cake.(ii) “ I’m not going to make my birthday cake. You can do it!” Charlotte refused to make a cake. (iii) “I’ve got lots of work to do this weekend and I might be too busy for other things”Charlotte hinted that she wouldn’t make the cake.  

In these sentences, there are three different verbs (say, hint, refuse). They all mean “no” but say is a neutral verb, hint is a weak verb, and refuse is much stronger .

  • If you want to express the idea of “Please do this!” “ Can you make a birthday cake for me, please ?” Charlotte asked her mum to make a cake. “ Please, please, please, can you make a cake for my birthday?” Charlotte begged her mum to make a cake (or) Charlotte pleaded with her mum to make a birthday cake. Ask, plead and beg all have a similar meaning, but plead and beg are much stronger than ask.

Learning words in English is like collecting bricks to build a house. It’s not enough just to get the bricks. You also need to learn how to arrange them correctly so that your house is solid! You can’t build a good house from just a couple of bricks (e.g. say and tell). That’s why you need to learn more vocabulary – like reporting verbs. We don’t want the Big Bad Wolf to blow your house down!

Let’s take a look at HOW to use reporting verbs in real sentences. Below, we have divided the verbs into their different grammar structures so they are easier for you to learn.

1. Reporting verb + infinitive

Verbs: Refuse, decide, promise, demand, agree, threaten, plead with Examples:

report verbs

  • Charlotte refused to make a cake. ( NOT : Charlotte refused making a cake)
  • My boss decided to give me a promotion.
  • The teacher demanded to know who was responsible for the mess.
  • We agreed to keep quiet and not tell anyone the news. (or) We agreed that we would keep quiet.
  • We threatened to go to the police.
  • They pleaded with the man to release the hostage.

2. Reporting verb + somebody + (not) infinitive

Verbs : remind, ask, beg, warn , order, encourage, persuade, advise, urge, agree Examples :

  • Charlotte reminded her mum to make a cake.
  • They asked me to cook
  • He begged his friend not to tell
  • They warned me not to go there by myself.
  • The government has ordered everybody to stay at home.
  • Her parents always encourage her to work
  • They persuaded me to stay for another drink.
  • The doctor advised me to stop
  • Our new neighbours have invited us to have dinner with them tomorrow.

3. Reporting verb + verb +ing

Verbs: Deny, suggest, recommend, report, propose, admit

These verbs can be used with +ing or with that , but it’s generally better to be concise and use the +ing verb. Short and sweet! Examples :

  • They denied taking the last biscuit. (short) (or) They denied that they had taken the last biscuit. (long)
  • She admitted stealing the money. (or) She admitted that she had stolen the money. / She admitted to me that she had stolen the money.
  • She suggested taking a taxi because it would be quicker. (or) She suggested that we took a taxi.
  • I recommend going in the morning when the weather isn’t so hot. (or) I recommend ( that) we go in the morning.
  • I propose cancelling the next meeting until we have made a decision. (or) I propose that we cancel the next meeting.

4. Reporting verb + preposition + verb + ing

Verbs: Blame smbd for, accuse smbd of, insist on, apologise for, complain about, confess to, forbid smbd from, agree to, think about Examples :

  • They blamed me for missing the train.
  • She accused her friend of
  • He apologised for breaking the window.
  • She is thinking about moving to France.
  • He insisted on paying for everybody. / He insisted that he paid for everybody.
  • They complained about not having a small hotel room. / They complained that they didn’t have a bigger room.

The reporting verbs we use in academic writing also follow specific grammatical patterns. Again, it is important to know whether the verb needs +ing, the infinitive , or that after it.

5. Academic reporting verb + that

Verbs: Point out, find, observe , state, agree, believe, assert, claim, contend, explain, guess, assert, imply, reason, prove, note, report, reveal.

5. Academic reporting verb + that

  • Bosley (2017) found that elderly patients experience fewer symptoms of pain when they have regular access to some form of nature. (or) Bosley (2017) found a link between symptoms and access to nature. ( find smth )
  • Martinez (2008) and Zhang (2009) agree that … (or) Martinez (2008) and Zhang (2009) agree with this theory . ( agree with + smth/smbd )
  • Persson (2003) claims that a community is impossible without a shared aim.
  • Research conducted by Bradwell in 2017 revealed that there was a considerable difference in the amount of time UK and US teenagers spent with their families. (or) Research conducted by Bradwell in 2017 revealed a considerable difference in the amount of time UK and US teenagers spent with their families.

6. Academic reporting verb + smth

Verbs: Develop, study, focus on, acknowledge, doubt, contribute to, echo, subscribe to, question, disapprove of, dispute, reject, discuss, investigate, illustrate, present, outline, put forward, consider, support, emphasise, challenge, analyse, discard, identify, explore, propose, highlight, stress. Examples:

  • Wang (2016) supports the idea that there is a significant link between play and child development. NOT : Wang (2016) supports that there is a significant link between play and child development.  
  • Roberts (2018) identifies three possible factors in early diagnosis.
  • Solara (2015) questions the importance of this approach. (or) Solara (2015)  questions whether this approach is important.
  • Barboza (2018) rejects the three factors presented by Solara.
  • Miller (2016) discusses this theory in detail. NOT : Miller (2016) discusses about this theory in detail

In academic writing, reporting verbs are used when you want to refer to what another person has said. You do this to strengthen your own argument and to show that other academics think the same as you.

It would be easy to just learn the verb “to state”, and use this all the time. However, using a range of other verbs can allow you to express your opinion about the author’s idea more precisely. For example, “to state” is quite neutral , but “to claim” implies that there is no proof behind what the author is saying.

Past or present tense?

You can use both the past and the present tense in academic writing.

If you are talking about recent research, use the present. This makes a connection between past research and now, which adds weight to your argument.

  • Wang (2016) support s the idea that there is a significant link between play and child development. (present simple)

If you are talking about how research was conducted, you will need to use the past simple (either active or passive voice).

  • Wang (2016) examin ed fifty groups of siblings. (past simple) The siblings were asked the following questions. (passive voice)

Avoid these common mistakes!

  • It’s possible to express someone’s opinion using “According to…”. This does not need a reporting verb. “According to” does the job of a reporting verb already. e.g. “According to Covey (2017)…” (Not: “ According to Covey (2017) states that… ”)
  • A source written by one author will need a singular verb with “-s” at the end e.g. “Liu (2016) suggest s that…” (Not: “ Liu (2016) suggest that… ”)
  • A source written by more than one author will need a plural verb. e.g. “Liu and Helzer (2016) suggest that…” (Not: “ Liu and Helzer (2016) suggests that… ”)
  • If you use “et al.” to indicate multiple authors, this will also require a plural verb as it means “they”. e.g. “Rosenberg et al. (2018) argue that…” (Not: “ Rosenberg et al. (2018) argues that…” )

Reporting verbs: Exercises

  • Why didn’t you _____________ me that you don’t eat meat? a) say.  b) tell
  • I didn’t ____________ anything to you, because I was too worried. a) tell.    b) say
  • We __________ them to meet us in the main square at half past eleven. a) told.  b) said
  • You should ________ her that you don’t want to go on holiday. a) say.  b) tell
  • Are you going to ___________ anything to Sue about your good news? a) say.  b) tell
  • They have ________ that we will need to bring our own bed linen and towels. a) told.    b) said

Which of these sentences are right and which are wrong? Choose correct or incorrect.

  • She suggested to study together for the exam. a . Correct    b. Incorrect
  • I said you not to do that. a. Correct    b. Incorrect
  • I didn’t tell anyone anything. a . Correct.  b . Incorrect
  • We have decided live in the countryside. a. Correct    b. Incorrect
  • My grandmother always encouraged to learn to cook. a. Correct    b. Incorrect

Choose the correct verb to complete the sentences.

  • She invited me ________ to her house for a drink after work. a. go    b. going  c. to go
  • She asked me _________ some money. a. lending    b. to lend    c . to lend her
  • They persuaded me _________ to London with them. a. go    b. to go    c. of going
  • He advised _______ more exercise. a. I do    b. me to do    c. me doing
  • He begged me not _______ anybody about the accident. a. of telling    b. tell    c. to tell
  • He reminded ________ to renew the car insurance. a . to me    b. me    c. of me
  • She refused _______ the washing-up again! a. me to do    b. to do.  c. doing
  • She apologised _________ me an angry text message. a. of sending. b. for sending    c. sending
  • He admitted ________ the red wine on the sofa. a. spilling    b. to spill    c. spill of
  • He suggested _________ on a cycling holiday next year. a. go    b . going c. we going
  • He denied _________ my car. a. taking    b . to take    c. taking of
  • She decided __________ the risotto. a. having.  b. to have    c. to having

Exercise 1:

Exercise 2:

  • b. Incorrect (She suggested studying together for the exam.)
  • b. Incorrect (I told you not to do that.)
  • b. Incorrect (We have decided to live in the countryside.)
  • b. Incorrect (My grandmother always encouraged me to learn to cook.)

Exercise 3:

report verbs

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Reporting Verbs – Usage, List of Examples & Worksheet

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| Candace Osmond

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Do you recall telling a friend what someone else said? You probably used a reporting verb in your story. What is a reporting verb? Good question and I’ve got the answer for you!

I use reporting verbs like say, tell, and state when talking about what other people have said.

But reporting verbs can be challenging because of the subtle shades of meaning and structure of sentences. I’ll teach you the common usage of reporting verbs and the meaning of strong, neutral, and weak reporting verbs.

What Are Reporting Verbs?

Grammarist Article Graphic V4 33

A reporting verb in academic writing is used to talk about or report someone else’s actions, works, or activities. Its usage is essential when you need to comment on someone’s research, agree or disagree with their arguments, and evaluate their claims.

Consider this example to see how these verbs are used.

  • Direct speech: The students said, “We want Science!”
  • Indirect speech: The students said they wanted Science.

In the second sentence, the reporting verb said is used to report that the students want Science.

Here’s another example of how to report indirect questions.

  • Direct speech: “Have you read my email?”
  • Indirect speech: She asked me If I had read her email.

The reporting verb used is asked because the direct speech uses real questions.

Other examples of reporting verbs include describe, show, reveal, note, indicate, report, and assume. Some informal verbs like come up with and guess are not recommended in formal writing.

Usage of Reporting Verbs

Reporting verbs follow specific patterns for their sentence structure. For instance, say uses the basic verb pattern:

  • Say + ( that ) + clause

Here are some examples of usage of the reporting verb say.

  • Mia said she had already eaten.
  • Lily said she had known her before.

Another common reporting verb is tell. The correct verb form is:

  • Tell + someone + ( that ) + clause

Here’s an example of the grammar usage of tell.

  • I told Rain to visit me.

Some reporting verbs like agree and offer only use the verb infinitive instead of the verb object infinitive pattern. For example:

  • I offered to give him a ride.

Accuse and congratulate follow the verb object preposition gerund pattern. For example:

  • They accused the man of stealing the bread.

This example shows a change in the original verb form.

  • Direct speech: “I will come to the event.”
  • Indirect speech: He said he would come to the event.

The reported speech changes to the use of would. A simple future tense verb in direct speech uses this modal verb for indirect speech.

Remember to use a singular verb with an -s ending if the subject is singular and a plural verb if the subject is plural. For example:

  • She suggests that dinner parties should be hosted every Friday.
  • They suggest that dinner parties should be hosted every Friday.

What Are the Most Common Reporting Verbs?

There is a wide range of reporting verbs used for different purposes. Below is a reporting verb list used for suggestions.

  • Hypothesize

This list shows examples of reporting verbsthat show persuasion.

Here’s a list of academic reporting verbs.

  • Casts doubt on

Strength of Reporting Verbs

Grammarist Article Graphic V4 34

Some verbs are stronger in their functions, while others are weaker. Let’s look at how strong and weak reporting verbs differ.

  • The author assumes that verb patterns vary according to the reporting verb.
  • The author insists that verb patterns vary according to the reporting verb.

Both assume and insist have similar definitions. But there are differences in meaning in terms of strength. The verb assume is weaker compared to insist. However, English is not black or white but a spectrum showing degrees of meaning.

Strong Reporting Verbs

Use strong reporting verbs for stronger arguments and claims. Here are some strong reporting verb examples.

  • Believe that

Here are some examples of strong reporting verbs in sentences.

  • She asserted that the speech lesson plan was not effective.
  • The judge maintained that his role would be to oversee the entire project.

Neutral Reporting Verbs

A neutral reporting verb says what another person describes, refers to, or discusses. The table below lists some neutral reporting verbs.

  • Demonstrate

Here are some sentences that use neutral reporting verbs.

  • The teacher mentioned that she had been working on the speech quiz and speech worksheet.
  • Eric stated that he could speak perfect Spanish.

Weak Reporting Verbs

Weak reporting verbs suggest much weaker functions. Check out this weak verbs list.

Here are sentence examples that use weak reporting verbs.

  • Linda guessed that subject-verb agreement is a common student error.
  • She hoped she could play the piano when she was in high school.

Reporting Words Summary

The grammar of reporting verbs is easier than you think. Use this type of verb when reporting or discussing what another person said.

I hope my guide helped you understand the difference in meaning between strong and weak reporting verbs and their correct sentence structure. Hopefully, it also allowed you to construct any normal sentence with this type of verb.

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Reporting verbs Link in-text citations to the information cited

In academic writing, you will need to cite (or 'refer to') other people's work or ideas. In order to do this accurately, you will need to use reporting verbs to link your in-text citation to the information cited. This section looks at what reporting verbs are , then looks at the strength and grammar of reporting verbs. Finally, there is a table which lists some of the most common reporting verbs , giving meaning, strength and usage. At the end there are some exercises to help you practice.

What are reporting verbs?

reporting

For another look at the same content, check out YouTube or Youku , or the infographic . There is a worksheet (with answers and teacher's notes) for this video.

Reporting verbs, also known as referring verbs, are verbs which are used when you report or refer to another writer's work. They are needed to connect the in-text citation to the information which you are citing. See the following examples, in which the reporting verbs ( point out and state ) are shown in bold.

  • Sharpling (2012) points out that reporting verbs have subtle differences in meaning.
  • University of Adelaide (2014) states that using the same reporting verb all the time is both repetitive and boring.

The most common reporting verb is state . However, while it is simpler to use the same verb over and over, this will not give your writing much variation. In addition, each reporting verb has a slightly different meaning, depending on what the writer you are citing is saying. It is therefore important for you to be aware of and try to use a range of reporting verbs, depending on the information you are citing.

Note that According to is another common way to refer to a writer's work. This is not a reporting verb, but is used in the same way. A common student mistake is to use this with a reporting verb such as state , which makes the sentence grammatically incorrect. See the following examples.

  • According to Smith (2016), using According to and state in the same sentence is a common student error.
  • Smith (2016) states that using According to and state in the same sentence is a common student error.
  • According to Smith (2016) states that using According to and state in the same sentence is a common student error.

Strength of reporting verbs

infographic

Check out the reporting verbs infographic »

Reporting verbs vary in terms of strength. Consider the following examples.

  • Smith (2016) assumes that reporting verbs have different strengths.
  • Smith (2016) insists that reporting verbs have different strengths.

Although both verbs have the same general meaning, namely believe , the verb assume is quite weak, while the verb insist is much stronger. The second verb most closely matches the information above on this page, i.e. as a fact, and is therefore more accurate than the first one.

Grammar of reporting verbs

Reporting verbs are often followed by a that clause. However, not all verbs follow this pattern. It is important, when using reporting verbs, to check the grammar usage to make sure that your writing is accurate. Consider the following examples.

  • Smith (2016) insists that reporting verbs have different strengths. [ insist + that ]
  • Smith (2016) agrees with Sharpling (2012) that reporting verbs have subtle differences in meaning. [ agree with sb ]
  • Smith (2016) challenges writers to use reporting verbs accurately. [ challenge sb to do sth ]

Note that it is usually acceptable to use reporting verbs in either the past or present tense. The present tense is more common as this brings the past research into the present and therefore makes it more current and important. There may, however, be special requirements for your course, so it is always useful to check the style guide for assignments.

Examples of usage for the most common reporting verbs are given in the table in the following section.

Examples of reporting verbs

The table below lists some of the most common reporting verbs. They are listed according to their general meaning. Usage and strength are also given. Verbs which are in the same cell have the same general meaning, usage and strength (e.g. admit and concede both mean agree , are both followed by that clauses, and are both weak verbs).

Academic Writing Genres

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Bailey, S. (2000). Academic Writing. Abingdon: RoutledgeFalmer

EIT Online (n.d.). Reporting Verbs . Available at: http://www2.eit.ac.nz/library/ls_guides_reportingverbs.html (Access date: 17/6/16)

Hampton, M. (n.d.). Writing about others’ work: verbs for citations (Harvard APA style) . Available at: http://www.port.ac.uk/media/contacts-and-departments/student-support-services/ask/downloads/Verbs-for-citation.pdf (Access date: 17/6/16)

Sharpling, G. (2012). Reporting Verbs . Available at: https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/al/globalpad/openhouse/academicenglishskills/grammar/reportingverbs/ (Access date: 17/6/16)

University of Adelaide (2014). Verbs for Reporting . Available at: https://www.adelaide.edu.au/writingcentre/sites/default/files/docs/learningguide-verbsforreporting.pdf (Access date: 17/6/16)

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Author: Sheldon Smith    ‖    Last modified: 03 February 2022.

Sheldon Smith is the founder and editor of EAPFoundation.com. He has been teaching English for Academic Purposes since 2004. Find out more about him in the about section and connect with him on Twitter , Facebook and LinkedIn .

Compare & contrast essays examine the similarities of two or more objects, and the differences.

Cause & effect essays consider the reasons (or causes) for something, then discuss the results (or effects).

Discussion essays require you to examine both sides of a situation and to conclude by saying which side you favour.

Problem-solution essays are a sub-type of SPSE essays (Situation, Problem, Solution, Evaluation).

Transition signals are useful in achieving good cohesion and coherence in your writing.

Reporting verbs are used to link your in-text citations to the information cited.

Patterns with reporting verbs

C1 grammar: Patterns with reporting verbs

Do you know how to use reporting verbs in a sentence? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how we use reporting verbs.

Harper reminds us that human rights are the priority. Smith suggests introducing small changes at first. Brown warns governments not to ignore ordinary people.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

MultipleChoice_MjQ3NDA=.xml

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

When we tell someone what another person said, we often use the reporting verbs say , tell and  ask . However, we can also use other verbs to more accurately report what the speaker has said. 

Each reporting verb requires a different pattern after it, and more than one pattern is possible after some verbs.

Verb + infinitive

When some verbs are immediately followed by another verb, the second verb is in infinitive form.

They refuse to accept responsibility for the accident. He promised not to share our personal information.

Verbs in this group include agree , claim , demand , offer , promise , refuse and threaten .

Verb + object + infinitive

Some verbs that are followed by the infinitive need an object between the reporting verb and the infinitive. 

The judge ordered the police to release the individual immediately. Ferguson warns governments not to delay any further.

Verbs in this group include advise , ask , encourage , invite , order , remind , tell , urge and warn .

Verb + -ing  

When certain verbs are immediately followed by another verb, the second verb has to be in -ing form. 

She recommends waiting for the refund. Computer scientists admit not knowing where the faulty data came from.

Verbs in this group include admit , deny , mention , recommend and suggest . 

Verb + preposition + -ing  

Note that when verbs with dependent prepositions are followed by another verb, we always use the -ing form. 

Employees complain about receiving important information too late. Two organisations apologised for not being present.

Verbs in this group include apologise for , complain about , confess to , insist on and object to . 

This structure is also used with warn when it is followed by the preposition against , and admit  when it is followed by the preposition to .

Novak warns against moving too fast. They'll never admit to not knowing the answer.

Verb + object + preposition + -ing

Some verbs that are followed by the -ing form need an object between the reporting verb and the preposition.

O'Reilly accused the government of lying about the issue. Parents blame schools for not doing enough to tackle bullying.

Verbs in this group include accuse ( someone of ), blame ( someone for ), and congratulate ( someone on ).

Verb + that + subjunctive

Some reporting verbs can also be followed by that + the base form of the verb. The verb in this part of the sentence is in the subjunctive and has no tense.

We suggest that she read the documents carefully before signing. Steiner demanded that the government investigate the issue.

Reporting verbs can be followed by the subjunctive when they express something that is wanted. These verbs include advise , ask , command , demand , insist , order , propose , recommend , request , suggest and urge .

Verb + that + indicative

When reporting verbs do not relate to a desire, they can be followed by a that clause in a variety of tenses, and the subjunctive is not necessary.

Customers complained that they had not been kept informed. Experts admit that it will take a long time to develop a solution. Sengupta agrees that we need a better system.

Verbs in this group include admit , advise , agree , claim , complain , decide , deny , explain , insist , promise , recommend and say .

Verb + object + that clause

With verbs like assure , persuade , remind , tell and warn , we put the object after the reporting verb and before the that clause.

She assured us that they would fully investigate the situation. Gairola warned ministers that the situation was critical.

MultipleChoice_MjQ3Mzk=.xml

Language level

Staff objected to being asked to change their shifts at such short notice

this sentence from test 2 number 9. why is the answer "to being"? isn't "to" is followed by infinitive? why is it not "for being?"

thank you in advance, sir.

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Hi ashiecajlenreese,

It's because in that sentence, "to" is a preposition. After all prepositions, the verb should be in the - ing  form. We know that "to" is a preposition because it followed the verb "object", which requires that preposition. You can see more examples of verbs like "object" in the section "Verb + preposition + - ing " on the page above.

We can't say  Staff objected for being ...   because the verb "object" only takes the preposition "to" (not "for").

In a sentence such as  I want to buy a car , "to" is not a preposition. It's part of the verb, and in that case it's followed by the infinitive.

I hope that helps.

LearnEnglish team

Computer scientists admit not knowing where the faulty data came from.

They'll never admit to not knowing the answer.

is there any exact reason when we use "admit to not knowing" and "admit not knowing?"

Hello ashiecajlenreese,

Both forms are used and they mean the same thing when followed by an '-ing' form.

You might find the Longman dictionary entry for ' admit ' useful. There are lots of examples and if you scroll down to the Grammar and Collocations boxes you can find some interesting comparisons.

Best wishes, Kirk LearnEnglish team

what is the diffrence between they admitted having an issue with the newest version of their product and they admitted to have an issue with their newest version of their product

Thanks for your question. "They admitted to have an issue ..." is not grammatically correct. As the page above explains:

When certain verbs are immediately followed by another verb, the second verb has to be in - ing form.  Verbs in this group include admit ...

So, it has to be  They admitted having an issue ...  .

thanks alot

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report verbs

Explore different ways of referring to literature and foregrounding your voice.

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Reporting verbs help you introduce the ideas or words of others as paraphrase or quotation from scholarly literature. Always accompanied by a reference, they indicate where you’re drawing on other people’s work to build your own argument. They also indicate  your stance  (agree, disagree, etc) on the scholarship you’re describing, highlighting your critical contribution. There are lots of reporting verbs to choose from and, depending on the context, they might be used to convey more than one stance, so you’ll notice that some appear in more than one category. 

The following reporting verbs has been organised according to the critical stances they signal.

Neutral description of what the text says

Reporting verbs.

  • Observes 
  • Describes 
  • Discusses 
  • Reports 
  • Outlines 
  • Remarks 
  • States 
  • Goes on to say that 
  • Quotes that 
  • Mentions 
  • Articulates 
  • Writes  
  • Relates  
  • Conveys 
Abrams mentions that culture shock has “long been misunderstood as a primarily psychological phenomenon” (34)  
Chakrabarty outlines the four stages of mitosis (72-3)

Acceptance as uncontested fact, having critiqued it

  • Recognises 
  • Clarifies 
  • Acknowledges 
  • Concedes 
  • Accepts 
  • Refutes 
  • Uncovers 
  • Admits 
  • Demonstrates 
  • Highlights 
  • Illuminates 
  • Supports  
  • Concludes 
  • Elucidates 
  • Reveals 
  • Verifies  
Abrams refutes the idea that culture shock is a “primarily psychological phenomenon” (34)
Chakrabarty demonstrates that mitosis actually occurs over five stages (73)

Recognition that this is one perspective on or interpretation of an issue or conclusion, and others might be possible

  • Argues 
  • Reasons 
  • Maintains 
  • Contends 
  • Hypothesises 
  • Proposes 
  • Theorises  
  • Feels 
  • Considers 
  • Asserts 
  • Disputes 
  • Advocates 
  • Opines  
  • Thinks  
  • Implies  
  • Posits 
Abrams contends that culture shock is socially produced (38)
Chakrabarty hypothesises that metaphase is a more complex process than previously thought (77)

Agreement with that perspective, interpretation or conclusion

  • Shows 
  • Illustrates  
  • Points out 
  • Proves 
  • Finds 
  • Explains 
  • Agrees 
  • Confirms 
  • Identifies 
  • Evidences  
  • Attests  
Abrams points out that culture shock is a “stress response mechanism” (34)
Chakrabarty proves that mitosis is irreversible, once triggered (80)

Disagreement with that perspective, interpretation or conclusion

  • Believes 
  • Claims 
  • Justifies 
  • Insists  
  • Assumes  
  • Alleges 
  • Denies 
  • Speculates  
  • Disregards 
  • Supposes  
  • Conjectures  
  • Surmises 
Abrams’ analysis disregards the neurochemical factors that contribute to culture shock (36)
Chakrabarty speculates that “metaphase is the most important stage of mitosis” (78)

Slight reservations held - probably true but being cautious

Reporting verb.

  • Notes 
  • Suggests 
  • Challenges 
  • Critiques  
  • Emphasises 
  • Declares 
  • Indicates 
  • Comments 
  • Upholds  
Abrams asserts that theories of culture shock have moved away from psychological explanations.
Chakrabarty emphasises the role of metaphase within mitosis (78)

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Reporting Verbs: List & Examples

In previous lessons, you’ve learned how to do reported speech and reported questions/commands  – now here are some verbs you can use to do the reporting! Pay special attention to the grammatical structure of how each one is used, and make sure to avoid the common errors.

Common Reporting Verbs

Say + (that).

Using the word “that” is optional after “say”:

  • Bob  said he was happy.
  • Bob  said that he was happy.

Avoid this common error: Bob said me that he was happy.

tell + someone + (that)

After the word “tell,” we must always have a person:

  • Jane  told me  she had worked late.
  • Jane  told me that  she had worked late.

tell + someone + (not) + to

We use “tell someone to” for giving an order/command:

  • My mom  told me to  clean my room.
  • My dad  told me not to  play with fire.

ask + someone + if/whether ask + someone + question word

We use “ask someone if/whether” for yes/no questions:

  • They  asked the teacher if there was any homework.
  • They  asked the teacher whether  there was any homework.

For all other questions, use this structure:

  • He  asked me  what  time it was.
  • She  asked us how  to get to the train station.
  • They  asked the police officer why  the road was closed.

Avoid this common error: They  asked to the police officer… 

ask + someone + (not) + to

We use “ask someone to” for requesting action from the other person:

  • She  asked me to  close the door.
  • She  asked me not to  leave the door open.

Reporting Verbs for Advice

Recommend + ing / recommend + that.

  • I  recommend staying  in this hotel.
  • I  recommend that you stay  in this hotel.

suggest + ING / suggest + that

  • He suggested taking an early train.
  • He suggested that I take an early train.

Avoid this common error: He suggested me to take an early train.

warn + someone + about warn + someone + not + to

We “warn” people about potentially dangerous things:

  • They  warned us  about  the high prices in San Francisco.
  • They  warned us not to  move to San Francisco.

advise + someone + (not) + to

We use the verb “advise” for giving advice. “Advise” is pronounced with a Z sound, and “advice” is pronouned with an S sound.

  • She  advised me to  start the assignment early.
  • She  advised me not to  wait until the last minute.

encourage + someone + to

We usually use the word “encourage” for suggesting positive things.

  • My parents  encouraged me to  take swimming lessons.

Reporting Verbs for Arguments & Strong Feelings

Admit + that.

If you “admit” something, it means you acknowledge a mistake or an unpleasant fact.

  • He  admitted that  he’d stolen the money.

argue + that / argue + about

The word “argue” can mean to try to persuade other people that your opinion is correct – as in the first example – or it can mean to have an angry verbal conflict – as in the second example.

  • The lawyer  argued that  his client didn’t know he was breaking the law.
  • My parents are  arguing about  where to spend our family vacation.

agree + that

  • The boss  agreed that  we should invest more in employee training.

Avoid this common error:  I’m agree.  The correct sentence is “I agree” (more common) or “I’m in agreement” (more formal).

claim + (that)

We use the verb “claim” to describe things we state are true… but other people might doubt that we are telling the truth.

  • She  claimed that  she’d locked the door.
  • She  claimed  she’d locked the door.

complain + that / complain + about

The verb “complain” means to say something negative because you are annoyed/disappointed about it.

  • We  complained that  the hotel room was too hot.
  • We  complained about  the temperature in the hotel room.

deny + that

If you “deny” something, it means you say it is NOT true.

  • He  denied that  he was responsible.

insist + that / insist + on

The verb “insist” means to strongly say something is true, or strongly say you will do something, despite other people trying to contradict you.

  • I  insisted that  I was innocent.
  • She  insisted on  paying for my drink.

swear + that / swear + to

The verb “swear” means to say something with extremely strong certainty.

  • He  swore that  he’d left his wallet on the table.
  • He  swore to  get revenge.

threaten + to

The verb “threaten” means to say you will do something bad to another person.

  • The manager  threatened to  fire me.

Reporting verbs for statements:

Explain + that explain + noun + to someone explain + question word.

  • The receptionist  explained that  the doctor was out to lunch.
  • Can you  explain this math problem  to me?
  • He  explained how  he’d built his own house.

Avoid this common error: She explained me … / I explained him …  – we never have a person immediately after the verb “explain.”

state + that

  • The politician  stated that  he was in favor of immigration.

reply + that

  • When I asked her about the project, she  replied that  she didn’t know anything.

Avoid this common error: She replied me that…  – we never have a person immediately after the verb “reply”

mention + that

The verb “mention” means to say something quickly, or to say something that is not so important to the main topic.

  • He  mentioned that  he’d put gas in the car.

announce + that

  • The teacher  announced that  everyone had passed the test.

Reporting verbs for giving orders:

Command + someone + to.

  • The officer  commanded the soldier  to clean the room.

demand + that demand + noun

  • My sister  demanded that  I give her an answer.
  • My sister  demanded an answer.

forbid + someone + to

The verb “forbid” means to prohibit someone from doing something.

  • We  forbade our kids to  use the computer without supervision.

Other reporting verbs:

Boast + that.

The verb “boast” means to arrogantly say good things about yourself or your accomplishments.

  • He  boasted that  he always got the best grades in the class.

propose + that

The verb “propose” can be used for making suggestions. It is a little more formal.

  • She  proposed that  we take a ten-minute break.

reveal + that

When we “reveal” something, we say something that was previously a secret, or information that is sensitive or not very well-known.

  • In the interview, he  revealed that  he struggled with self-esteem.

guarantee + that

If you “guarantee” that something is the case, it means you promise that it is true.

  • We  guarantee that  our products are made from high-quality materials.

promise + (that) / promise + to

  • You  promised that  you’d help me.
  • You  promised  you’d help me.
  • You  promised to  help me.

beg + someone + to/for

  • I’m  begging you to  reconsider.
  • I’m  begging you for  another chance.

remind + someone + to/that

  • She  reminded me to  go to the bank.
  • She  reminded me that  the bank is closed on Sundays.

Avoid this common error: She  remembered  me to go…

Learn more: State verbs and action verbs

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Reporting Verbs: List & Examples Espresso English

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List of Reporting Verbs in Academic Writing

200 reporting verbs for students and academics.

  • Albert Einstein agrees that...
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list of reporting verbs in academic writing

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report verbs

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Reporting verbs

Academic writing requires you to use citations 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 help you to present the information.

The use of reporting verbs in your written academic work can help to reflect your attitudes to the 'sourced information' or help you to voice your opinions/arguments better in your assignment work.

There is a wide variety of reporting verbs in the English language, some of which are detailed below:

Part 1: Advanced ways to show your attitude

Reporting verbs are a way for you, the writer, to show your attitude towards the source of information you are citing. These attitudes are either ‘ positive ’, ‘ negative ’ or ‘ neutral ’.

Do you agree with what the author has said? If so, use reporting verbs with a positive meaning to them. Here are some reporting verbs that tend to be positive:

Do you disagree with what the author has said? In this case, you can use a negative reporting verb to indicate this. Here are some reporting verbs used when there is a belief that the literature is incorrect:

Perhaps you feel neutral about the source you are citing. In this situation, you should use a neutral reporting verb. Here are some reporting verbs that tend to be neutral:

Keep in mind that there are many more reporting verbs you can use to more fully express how you feel about the sources you are using in your essays and papers. Adapted from:  The Independent Learning Centre  (opens external site), Chinese University, Hong Kong, n.d.  Reporting verbs , viewed 26 October 2012

Part 2: Your "writer's" voice

Academic writing at university normally requires you to use multiple information sources, and to evaluate the quality of these ideas. One important tool for doing this is reporting verbs.

Reporting verbs tell us that someone said something. However, careful selection of reporting verbs can help show your assessment of the quality of what they have said. This is a vital academic skill. It not only helps turn ordinary Pass-level work into much better work, but it also develops your critical thinking skills.

Reporting verbs can show your opinion of others’ ideas:

  • a belief that the literature is correct (stronger position)
  • a neutral attitude towards the veracity of the literature (i.e. neither correct nor incorrect – neutral position)
  • a belief that the literature is incorrect (weaker position)

The grammar of reporting verbs

Reporting verbs have simple basic grammar. However, it can be confusing because there are two basic patterns.  Some reporting verbs belong to one pattern, some to the other, and some to both.

Pattern 1: Verb + Noun (noun phrase) The authors show the devastating results of this policy (Smith and Jones 2008, p. 12). For example: Gillard (2012) indicated her negative opinion of Abbott’s proposal. Pinker (2002) frequently approves of Chomsky’s theories.

Pattern 2: Verb + That + clause (i.e. sentence) Examples: The authors show that this policy had 'devastating economic results' (Smith & Jones 2008, p. 12). Gillard (2012) indicated that Abbott’s proposal was untenable in her opinion.

Reporting verbs are normally present simple – especially for recent articles and books. For example: Turner (2010) states that the modern nation wields more power in new ways. However, use the past tense if presenting the results of past research – even in recent literature. For example: The groups observed during the research showed a range of leadership styles (Kang 2006).

Adapted from:

Office of Student Success 2010, Reporting verbs , Australian Catholic University, viewed 17 October 2012. (opens external site) University of Adelaide,  Common reporting verbs for academic writing   (PDF 80kB, four pages) , viewed 25 October 2012.

UTS acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the Boorooberongal people of the Dharug Nation, the Bidiagal people and the Gamaygal people, upon whose ancestral lands our university stands. We would also like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present, acknowledging them as the traditional custodians of knowledge for these lands.

report verbs

What Are Reporting Verbs in English Grammar?

Different Tenses Offer Different Effects

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In English grammar , a reporting verb is a  verb (such as say, tell, believe, reply, respond, or ask ) used to indicate that discourse is being quoted or paraphrased . It's also called a  communication verb .

"[T]he number of reporting verbs that can be employed to mark  paraphrases  is around a dozen," author Eli Hinkel reported, "and they can be learned with relative ease while working on a writing assignment (e.g.,  the author says, states, indicates, comments, notes, observes, believes, points out, emphasizes, advocates, reports, concludes, underscores, mentions, finds ), not to mention phrases with similar textual functions such as  according to the author, as the author states/indicates, in the author's view/opinion/understanding,  or  as noted/stated/mentioned ."

Tenses and Their Uses

Most often, reporting verbs, such as seen in fiction to show dialogue, are in the past tense, because as soon as a speaker says something, it is literally in the past. 

George Carlin illustrates this in this example of reported speech: "I went to a bookstore and  asked  the saleswoman, 'Where's the self-help section?' She  said  if she  told  me, it would defeat the purpose."

To contrast with words spoken once, putting a reporting verb in the present tense is used to show an adage, something that someone has said in the past and continues to say or presently believes. For example: "She always says how he's not good enough for you."

Next, a reporting verb may be in the historical present tense (to refer to an event that took place in the past). The historical present is often used for dramatic effect or immediacy, to place the reader right in the scene. The technique should be used sparingly, so you don't create confusion, but its use can make for a dramatic lead to a story, for example. "The year is 1938, the place, Paris. The soldiers smash shop windows and run through the street and yell ..." 

You also use reporting verbs in the literary present tense (to refer to any aspect of a work of literature). This is because no matter what year you watch a particular movie or read a book, the events always unfold in the same way. The characters always say the same thing in the same order. For example, if you're writing on "Hamlet," you might write, "Hamlet shows his anguish when he speaks his 'To be' soliloquy." Or if you're reviewing fantastic movie lines, you might write, "Who can forget when Humphrey Bogart says  to Ingrid Bergman, 'Here's looking at you, kid' in 'Casablanca'?" 

Don't Overuse Reporting Verbs

When you're writing dialogue, if the identity of a speaker is clear from the context , such as in a back-and-forth conversation between two people, the reporting phrase is often omitted; it doesn't have to be used with each line of dialogue, just enough times to make sure the reader doesn't get lost as far as who's speaking, such as if the conversation is long or if a third party interjects. And if the lines of conversation are short, using a bunch of "he said" "she said" gets distracting for the reader. It's more effective to leave them out in this instance.

Overusing "creative" substitutions for, "said" can also get distracting for the reader. A reader goes by "said" quickly and doesn't lose the flow of the dialogue. Be judicious in using substitutions for "said." 

"The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in," wrote Elmore Leonard in The New York Times .  "But  said  is far less intrusive than  grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied . I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with 'she asseverated,' and had to stop reading to get the dictionary."

  • Teaching Academic ESL Writing . Routledge, 2004
  • Elmore Leonard, "Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle." July 16, 2001
  • Understanding the Types of Verbs in English Grammar
  • What Is the Historical Present (Verb Tense) in English?
  • Meaning of Tense Shift in Verbs
  • Examples of Signal Phrases in Grammar and Composition
  • How to Use Indirect Quotations in Writing for Complete Clarity
  • Direct Speech Definition and Examples
  • Definition and Examples of Direct Quotations
  • Verb Phrase
  • Preterit(e) Verbs
  • Light Verbs in English Grammar
  • Verbs in Simple Present Tense
  • Base Verbs in English Grammar
  • Definition and Examples of Pro-Verbs in English
  • What Is an Indentation?
  • Words to Use Instead of "Said"
  • Inflection Definition and Examples in English Grammar

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Reporting verbs

On this page, use of reporting verbs, common reporting verbs - say pattern, common reporting verbs - tell pattern, reporting actions : requests, promises etc, reporting verbs followed by a gerund.

report verbs

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English EFL

Reported speech

Reporting verbs

In the page about reported speech, we talked about how to change direct speech ("I love coffee") into reported speech (Johnna said that she loved coffee), using the  reporting verbs 'say', 'tell' and 'ask'. However, we can also use many other verbs to report what someone said, like 'promise', 'warn', 'advise' and 'recommend'.

Some of these verbs look a bit more complicated to use than 'say' and 'tell', but it's just a question of getting to know the verb patterns (or verb structures).

(As I'm sure you know, we can often choose if we want to use 'that' or not in English. I've put it in brackets () to show that it's optional. The meaning is exactly the same if you use 'that' or if you don't use 'that'.)

Let's look first at the verbs we've already talked about. The basic verb pattern for using 'say' for reported speech is:

say + (that) + clause

  • She said (that) she had already eaten.

(The direct speech for this is "I've already eaten".)

On the other hand, with 'tell' we need to use an object, a person who we tell the information to. tell + someone + (that) + clause

  • I told John (that) I had seen the new film.

(The direct speech for this is "I've seen the new film".)

When we are reporting orders, we can also use another pattern with 'tell':

tell + someone + to + infinitive

  • She told the children to go to bed.

We use 'ask' to report questions or requests. For questions we use the pattern:

ask + someone + if / question word + clause

  • I asked my boss if I could leave early.
  • She asked them where the station was.

For requests we use the pattern:

ask + someone + to + infinitive

  • I asked Lucy to pass me the salt.

(Remember, the first two examples with 'ask' are no longer real questions, so we use the normal sentence word order. We don't use inversion. We say 'she asked them where the station was', NOT  'she asked them where was the station' . You can read more about this on the lessons about indirect questions and  reported speech.)

Other reporting verbs follow a variety of patterns. There aren't any rules about which verbs follow which patterns. You need to learn each one.

(= Give someone advice. Notice the different spelling for the verb and the noun.)

Advise + someone + to + infinitive

  • She advised him to see a doctor.

Advise + (that) + clause

  • The staff advise that you carry water at all times.

Advise + against + verb-ing

  • I'd advise against leaving early.

Agree + to + infinitive

  • We agreed to meet the following day.

Agree + (that) + clause

  • I agreed that the children could do their homework later.

6: APOLOGISE

Apologise + (to + someone) + for + verb-ing

  • They apologised to us for being late.
  • She apologised for forgetting the book.

Apologise (+ to + someone) + for + noun

  • She apologised for the delay.

Decide + to + infinitive

  • They decided to go to the cinema.

Decide + (that) + clause

  • They decided that they would go to the cinema.

8: ENCOURAGE

Encourage + someone + to + infinitive

  • She encouraged him to take the exam again.
  • The teacher encouraged the students to ask questions.

Explain + (that) + clause

  • The teacher explained that the course was finished.

Explain + noun + to + someone

  • She explained the grammar to the students.

NOT:  She explained me the grammar.

Explain + question word + to + infinitive

  • They explained how to buy a train ticket on the internet.
  • John explained where to find the restaurant.

Explain + question word + clause

  • We explained what the exams would cover.

10: INSIST*

Insist + on + verb-ing

  • He insisted on paying.

Insist + (that) + clause

  • He insisted that we sit down.

11: PROMISE

Promise + to + infinitive

  • He promised to arrive early.

Promise + (someone) + (that) + clause

  • I promised him that I wouldn't do it again.

12: RECOMMEND*

Recommend + verb-ing

  • I recommend visiting the British Museum while you're in London.

Recommend + (that) + clause

  • I recommend that you visit the British Museum

Remind + someone + to + infinitive

  • She reminded him to take his keys.

Remind + someone + (that) + clause

  • They reminded me that there is a party tonight.

14: SUGGEST*

Suggest + verb-ing

  • I suggest leaving soon

Suggest + (that) + clause

  • I suggest that you come as soon as you can.

NOT:  I suggest him to come.

Warn + someone + (not) + to + infinitive

  • I warned them not to go in the water.

Warn + someone + about + something

  • She warned us about the dangerous roads.

Negatives To make the verbs that we have reported negative, we need to look at the verb pattern:

  • When there's a clause, we make the negative in the usual way: She said that she  didn't like  ice cream.
  • When there's 'to + infinitive', we generally put 'not' before 'to': He promised  not to do  it again.
  • When there's 'verb-ing', we generally put 'not' in front of it: I advise  not taking  the bus.

* Advanced Point In formal English, some verbs that are followed by '(that) + clause' use the infinitive instead of a present tense verb. Some people suggest that this is a kind of subjunctive in English. You only need to worry about this in very formal writing.

Mostly, this doesn't make a difference, because the present simple form in English is often the same as the infinitive form. But when the subject is 'he', 'she' or 'it' or when the verb is 'be', we can see it clearly.

  • I advise that he  go  to bed early. (Normally we'd expect: I advise that he goes to bed early.)
  • I insist that she  come  now. (Normally we'd expect: I insist that she comes now.)
  • They suggested that the cats  be  put in the garden for the night. (Normally we'd expect: They suggested that the cats are put in the garden for the night.)

Some reporting verbs may appear in more than one of the following groups because they can be used in several ways.

VERBS FOLLOWED BY "IF" OR "WHETHER"

Verbs followed by a "that", verbs followed by either "that" or an infinitive with "to", verbs followed by a "that" clause containing should, which may be omitted, leaving a subject + zero-infinitive, verbs followed by a clause starting with a question word, verbs followed by object + infinitive with "to", course curriculum.

  • Direct and indirect speech 15 mins
  • Tense changes in reported speech 20 mins
  • Changing time and place in reported speech 20 mins
  • Reported questions 20 mins
  • Reporting verbs 20 mins
  • Reporting orders and requests 15 mins
  • Reporting hopes, intentions and promises 20 mins

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  • English Grammar

Reporting Verbs

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  • Updated 13 October, 2023

Forming sentences with reporting verbs

Reporting verbs are used to report what someone said more accurately than using  say & tell .

  • They agreed to meet on Friday.
  • He refused to take his coat off.
  • Tom advised me to go home early.
  • She reminded me to telephone my mother.
  • They recommended taking the bus.
  • She suggested meeting a little earlier.
  • He accused me of taking the money.
  • They congratulated me on passing all my exams.
  • They apologised for not coming .
  • He insisted on having dinner.
  • Sarah decided (that) the house needed cleaning.
  • They recommended (that) we take the bus.

Related grammar points

Reported Questions Reported Speech Say and Tell

After having introduced the basic reporting verbs: ask, say and tell, I ask my students to write about 10 personal questions they will be able to ask me. Students love asking personal questions to their teachers! I put the questions on the board and then divide the class into 2 groups and make the first group leave and wait outside. Students from the first group take turns asking me their prepared questions and write down my answers.

Now, they leave and the second group does the same thing. However, what they do not know is that I am honest with one group and give correct answers, but lie to the other. It’s a good idea not to tell them beforehand.

When the second group is ready I ask the group outside to come in and tell the students to pair off as 1st and 2nd group partners.

For example, one student says: “I asked the teacher how old she was and she told me she was 16.” Then the other student says: “I asked the same question, but she told me she was 36.” etc… until all the questions are reported.

They have to pay attention to the usage of the reporting verbs and have fun finding out which group the teacher lied to!

Love this idea! Thank you very much!

Why reporting verb is not part of grammar.. Or partial of it..

Today i’ve studied many news topics and how use in my gramar like: The reporting verbs The reported speech The wish and if only and So and such

These two lessons have been so cool, I was finally able to correctly understand the forms of reporting verbs and in which cases so and such are used. Thank you:)

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Reporting Verbs

In academic writing (and to a lesser extent, academic speaking) it will often be necessary to refer to the research of others and to report on their findings. In order to do so, we have to use reporting verbs such as 'Evans (1994) suggests that....'; 'Brown (2001) argues that....'.

The difficulty with using reporting verbs is that there are many different verbs, and each of them has slightly different, and often subtle shades of meaning. Using the correct words relies, as much as anything, on making the correct interpretation of what the writer you are studying is saying.

1. What are the different reporting verbs that can be used?

2. What are some of the main language points that need to be considered when using reporting verbs?

3. Example 1 : reporting verbs in an extract of academic writing

Reporting verbs differ in terms of their strength; for example, 'to suggest' is much weaker, and more tentative, than 'to argue'. The two verbs convey very different pictures about how the author you are studying sees his or her materials and research.

Some reporting verbs are used principally to say what the writer does and does not do. These verbs do not indicate any value judgement on the part of the writer; they are called 'neutral' reporting verbs.

A second group of verbs is used to show when the writer has an inclination to believe something but still wishes to be hesitant; we call these 'tentative' reporting verbs.

Finally, if the writer has strong arguments to put forward and is absolutely sure of his or her ground, we can use 'strong' reporting verbs to refer to these ideas.

Obviously, it is important (when we read) to ensure that we interpret the writer's ideas correctly. For instance, if we say 'Jones (1999) argues' rather than 'Jones (1999) suggests', this is a major difference of meaning. The first indicates strength, the second tentativity. It is very important, in academic writing, not to misinterpret a writer's intentions when we are reporting them.

In the table below, the main reporting verbs in English are classified in terms of their function, and their strength.

  2.   What are some of the main language points that need to be considered when using reporting verbs?

  • The structure of sentences when using reporting verbs can vary, and can be flexible; for example:
  • It is possible (and often quite attractive stylistically) to invert the subject and verb when reporting:

e.g. Thermodynamics, argues Jones (1999), is..

  • Reporting the work of others often needs an extra sentence introduction or 'lead-in':
  • It is important to remember to put the final 's' on the verb when the subject is 'he/she'.
  • Very often, in academic writing, reporting takes place in the present tense , as in the examples above; this is because of the need to bring past research into the present moment.
  • If you have used the verb 'said' very often in your writing, try to replace this with something more descriptive and precise.
  • The words 'mention' or 'reckon' are informal and are often best replaced with a more formal equivalent.
  • Other informal verbs of saying that are best avoided in academic writing are: 'come up with', 'guess', etc.
  • As regards referencing, it is usually best to put the year of publication straight after the name used, before going on with the sentence. The page reference can then be placed at the end of the sentence.

La Trobe University Library

  • Introduction
  • Academic language
  • Linking words
  • Using sources

Reporting verbs

  • Common mistakes

Academic writing must draw on ideas from other scholarly sources. You can refer to these sources in your writing using reporting verbs. 

The reporting verb you choose can show the original author’s view or your view of the ideas. This shows the marker that you can understand and evaluate the source. 

Reporting verbs can be tentative, neutral or strong. Some verbs can fit in more than one category. Each reporting verb has a different meaning, so use a dictionary to check that you have chosen the right verb for your context.

Tentative reporting verbs

Tentative reporting verbs indicate less certainty and acknowledge other views may exist. 

Example sentence: Jones (2019) suggests that water pollution damages children’s health.

Neutral reporting verbs

Neutral reporting verbs describe the information as fact and tell the reader that you consider the source to be credible.

Example sentence: Watson (2018) notes that water pollution damages children’s health.

Strong reporting verbs

Strong reporting verbs can be used for information that is not factual but supported by sound evidence.

Example sentence: Adams (2016) disagrees with Jones (2019) and rejects the idea that water pollution damages children’s health.

Common reporting verbs

The following table categorises reporting verbs by their strength.

Grammar of reporting verbs

Many reporting verbs are followed by ‘that’.

Example: Wallis (2019) argues that the policy failed to protect children.

However, some reporting verbs follow other patterns.

Example: Papadopoulos (2016) rejects the idea that the policy was a failure.

Check a dictionary if you are not sure how to use a particular reporting verb.

Reporting verbs are usually written in the present tense .

Example: Playing golf appears to have significant benefits for a person’s physical and mental health (Woods & Norman, 2018).

Use the past tense when reporting specific findings of a previous study or describing how the study was conducted.

Example: The authors examined the relationship between golf and heart disease. Fifty professional golfers participated in the study.

Use the present perfect tense when summarising research with general subjects (e.g., “Researchers have found…”).

Example: Several studies have found that playing golf can reduce the risk of falls in the elderly (Brown, 2018; Green, 2019; White, 2018). 

Pathfinder link

Still have questions? Do you want to talk to an expert? Peer Learning Advisors or Academic Skills and Language Advisors  are available.

Content on this page adapted from:

The Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre. (n.d.). Reporting verbs. https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/asc/sites/files/asc/public/shared/pdf/tip_sheets_writing/Reporting_Verbs_web_v1_XH.pdf Used under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

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  • Last Updated: Feb 13, 2024 2:46 PM
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Love English

Reporting Verbs: Important List of 85 Reporting Verbs for ESL Learners

Reporting verbs are an essential aspect of writing in various fields such as academic writing, journalism, and literature. They are used to report or refer to another writer’s work and are necessary to link your in-text citation to the information that you are citing. These verbs are used to convey the writer’s attitude towards the information being reported and help to establish credibility.

In this article, we will explore the meaning, strength, and nuance of different reporting verbs. We will also provide examples of how to use them in sentences and offer exercises to test your knowledge. Whether you are a student, researcher, or writer, understanding reporting verbs is essential to improve your writing and communicate your ideas effectively.

Reporting Verbs

Reporting Verbs

Definition and Purpose

As writers, we often need to report what someone else has said, written or done. To do this, we use reporting verbs. Reporting verbs are words that we use to convey information about what someone else has said or done. The purpose of using reporting verbs is to make our writing more concise and clear.

Common Reporting Verbs

There are many reporting verbs that we can use in our writing. Some of the most common reporting verbs include “say,” “tell,” “ask,” “warn,” “suggest,” “advise,” “promise,” and “offer.” The choice of which reporting verb to use depends on the context of the sentence and the tone that we want to convey.

Here is a list of some common reporting verbs and their meanings:

It is important to note that some reporting verbs are followed by a direct object (e.g. “tell” is followed by the person being told), while others are not. For example, “say” is not followed by a direct object, but “warn” is.

List of Reporting Verbs

Reporting verbs list.

Below is a useful reporting verbs list in English.

  • Recommended
  • Acknowledged

Reporting Verb Examples

  • He  said  he wanted to go to town.
  • I asked him where he lived.
  • Mark promised he would buy me lunch.
  • She  complaine d that I was always late.
  • Stuart  commented  that this was very true.
  • They  promised  that all books would be returned by Friday.
  • “What do you want?” He demanded  aggressively.
  • She  exclaimed  that she was innocent.
  • They  announced  that a cold wave would come soon.
  • The police  acknowledged  that three police vehicles were damaged.
  • It is expected  that the report will suggest some major reforms.
  • It is often  stated that we use only 10 percent of our brain.
  • “I’m not sure”, she responded .
  • The prime minister  admitted  that the crisis had been mishandled.
  • He  repeated that he had been misquoted .
  • It has been  confirmed  that Lewis’s next fight will be against Bruno.

Learn more about reported speech .

Types of Reporting Verbs

Reporting verbs for statements.

The most common type of information cited in academic writing is statements. Here are some reporting verbs that can be used to report statements:

  • Say : This is the most basic and common reporting verb. It can be used to report any kind of statement, whether it is a fact or an opinion.
  • State : This verb is often used to report formal statements, such as those found in legal documents or official reports.
  • Claim : This verb is used to report statements that may be controversial or in dispute.

Reporting Verbs for Questions

When citing information from a question, it is important to use a reporting verb that accurately reflects the nature of the question. Here are some reporting verbs that can be used to report questions:

  • Ask : This verb is used to report a direct question that was asked by someone else.
  • Inquire : This verb is used to report a more formal question, such as one made in a research study or survey.
  • Wonder : This verb is used to report a more informal or speculative question.

Reporting Verbs for Orders and Requests

When citing information about orders or requests, it is important to use a reporting verb that accurately reflects the nature of the order or request. Here are some reporting verbs that can be used to report orders and requests:

  • Order : This verb is used to report a direct order given by someone else.
  • Request : This verb is used to report a direct request made by someone else.
  • Suggest : This verb is used to report a more indirect or tentative order or request.

Using Reporting Verbs

Tense agreement.

When using reporting verbs, it is important to ensure that the tense of the verb used in the reported speech matches the tense used in the reporting verb. For example, if we use the reporting verb “said” in the past tense, then the verb used in the reported speech should also be in the past tense. If we use the present tense reporting verb “says”, then the verb used in the reported speech should also be in the present tense.

Subject-Verb Agreement

Another important aspect of using reporting verbs is ensuring that there is agreement between the subject of the reporting verb and the subject of the reported speech. For example, if the subject of the reporting verb is “he”, then the subject of the reported speech should also be “he”. If the subject of the reporting verb is “they”, then the subject of the reported speech should also be “they”.

Reporting Verb Patterns

Reporting verbs follow specific patterns for their sentence structure. For instance, “say” uses the basic verb pattern: “Say + ( that) + clause”. On the other hand, with “tell” we need to use an object, a person who we tell the information to. Other reporting verbs such as “ask” and “inquire” also have their own unique patterns.

Reporting in Different Contexts

Academic writing.

In academic writing, reporting verbs are extensively used to link in-text citations to the information cited. These verbs help the writer to accurately and effectively present the ideas and arguments of other authors.

Reporting verbs can be divided into two categories: neutral and evaluative. Neutral verbs, such as “state” and “report,” are used to present information without any subjective evaluation. Evaluative verbs, such as “argue” and “contend,” are used to present information with a subjective evaluation. It is important to choose the appropriate reporting verb that accurately reflects the author’s intention.

Journalism is another field where reporting verbs are frequently used. In journalism, reporting verbs are used to convey the tone of the article and the writer’s perspective. For example, “allege” and “claim” are used to indicate that the information is unverified, while “confirm” and “verify” are used to indicate that the information is true. Journalists need to be careful in their choice of reporting verbs to avoid any bias or misrepresentation.

Business Communication

In business communication, reporting verbs are used to convey information in a clear and concise manner. Business professionals use reporting verbs to communicate the results of their research, surveys, and analysis. Neutral verbs, such as “indicate” and “show,” are used to present information without any subjective evaluation. Evaluative verbs, such as “recommend” and “propose,” are used to present information with a subjective evaluation.

It is important to choose the appropriate reporting verb that accurately reflects the author’s intention and the purpose of the communication.

Last Updated on December 6, 2023

Intransitive Verbs

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Word of the Day

What it means.

When you have a rapport with someone, your relationship is characterized by agreement, mutual understanding, or empathy that makes communication possible or easy.

// Once our daughter had developed a rapport with her piano teacher, she began to show some real enthusiasm for learning and practicing the piano.

See the entry >

rapport in Context

"No one ever equaled the [Smothers] brothers' unique rapport , blending folk music and natural conversations with sibling rivalry and comical bickering." — Marc Freeman, The Hollywood Reporter , 29 Dec. 2023

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Did You Know?

The word rapport bears a resemblance to a more common English word, report , which is no coincidence: both words come ultimately from the Latin verb portare , meaning "to carry," and both traveled through French words meaning "to bring back" on their way to English. Report has been in use since the 14th century, when it entered Middle English by way of Anglo-French. Rapport was first used in the mid-15th century as a synonym of report in its "account or statement" meaning, but that meaning had become obsolete by the mid-19th century. It wasn't until the early 20th century that English speakers borrowed rapport back from French in the meaning of "a friendly, harmonious relationship." We're happy to report that rapport has since flourished, and we trust this friendly word will stick around a while.

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COMMENTS

  1. Reporting Verbs in English: List with Examples & Exercises

    Reporting verbs (or referring verbs) are words used to report about (or refer to) what another person has said, written or done. These verbs are used in reported speech, which can be direct or indirect. The first reporting verbs that English students learn are usually say and tell. For example compare i) and ii) below:

  2. PDF Verbs for Reporting

    Reporting verbs can indicate: the author's personal viewpoint your viewpoint regarding what the author says the author's viewpoint regarding other literature. To interpret the writer's ideas accurately, however, you will need to use a verb with the correct nuance (sense of meaning).

  3. Reporting Verbs

    A reporting verb in academic writing is used to talk about or report someone else's actions, works, or activities. Its usage is essential when you need to comment on someone's research, agree or disagree with their arguments, and evaluate their claims. Consider this example to see how these verbs are used.

  4. Reporting Verbs

    1: SAY Let's look first at the verbs we've already talked about. The basic verb pattern for using 'say' for reported speech is: say + (that) + clause She said (that) she had already eaten. (The direct speech for this is "I've already eaten".) 2: TELL On the other hand, with 'tell' we need to use an object, a person who we tell the information to.

  5. Reported speech: reporting verbs

    Grammar explanation When we tell someone what another person said, we often use the verbs say, tell or ask. These are called 'reporting verbs'. However, we can also use other reporting verbs. Many reporting verbs can be followed by another verb in either an infinitive or an -ing form. Reporting verb + infinitive

  6. Reporting verbs

    Reporting verbs, also known as referring verbs, are verbs which are used when you report or refer to another writer's work. They are needed to connect the in-text citation to the information which you are citing. See the following examples, in which the reporting verbs ( point out and state) are shown in bold.

  7. Patterns with reporting verbs

    Verbs in this group include agree, claim, demand, offer, promise, refuse and threaten. Verb + object + infinitive Some verbs that are followed by the infinitive need an object between the reporting verb and the infinitive. The judge ordered the police to release the individual immediately. Ferguson warns governments not to delay any further.

  8. Reporting Verbs for English Language Learners

    Reporting verbs are verbs that serve to report what someone else has said. Reporting verbs are different than the reported speech in that they are used to paraphrase what someone has said. Reported speech is used when reporting exactly what someone has said. To do this, use 'say' and 'tell'. John told me he was going to stay late at work.

  9. Reporting Verbs

    Reporting verbs help you introduce the ideas or words of others as paraphrase or quotation from scholarly literature. Always accompanied by a reference, they indicate where you're drawing on other people's work to build your own argument.

  10. Reporting Verbs: List & Examples

    Grammar Reporting Verbs: List & Examples Shayna Oliveira Grammar In previous lessons, you've learned how to do reported speech and reported questions/commands - now here are some verbs you can use to do the reporting! Pay special attention to the grammatical structure of how each one is used, and make sure to avoid the common errors.

  11. List of Reporting Verbs in Academic Writing

    Reporting verbs are verbs that indicate who said or wrote the information being presented, such as "argued," "claimed," "explained," "stated," or "suggested." By using reporting verbs, writers can convey to their readers the credibility and authority of their sources, and make clear distinctions between their own ideas and those of others.

  12. Reporting verbs

    Part 1: Advanced ways to show your attitude Reporting verbs are a way for you, the writer, to show your attitude towards the source of information you are citing. These attitudes are either ' positive ', ' negative ' or ' neutral '. Do you agree with what the author has said? If so, use reporting verbs with a positive meaning to them.

  13. Definition and Examples of Reporting Verbs in English

    In English grammar, a reporting verb is a verb (such as say, tell, believe, reply, respond, or ask) used to indicate that discourse is being quoted or paraphrased. It's also called a communication verb .

  14. Reporting verbs

    Reporting verbs are used in reported speech The most common reporting verbs are say and tell.However, there are a number of other reporting verbs that can be used instead of say or tell to make more efficient (i.e. shorter) statements and questions. Consider this original statement in direct speech:

  15. Reporting verbs

    Reporting verbs. In the page about reported speech, we talked about how to change direct speech ("I love coffee") into reported speech (Johnna said that she loved coffee), using the reporting verbs 'say', 'tell' and 'ask'. However, we can also use many other verbs to report what someone said, like 'promise', 'warn', 'advise' and 'recommend'.

  16. Reporting Verbs

    Reporting verbs are used to report what someone said more accurately than using say & tell. verb + infinitive. agree, decide, offer, promise, refuse, threaten. They agreed to meet on Friday. He refused to take his coat off. verb + object + infinitive. advise, encourage, invite, remind, warn. Tom advised me to go home early.

  17. Reporting Verbs

    1. What are the different reporting verbs that can be used? Reporting verbs differ in terms of their strength; for example, 'to suggest' is much weaker, and more tentative, than 'to argue'. The two verbs convey very different pictures about how the author you are studying sees his or her materials and research.

  18. Reporting Verbs: Ultimate List and Useful Examples • 7ESL

    Ask. Can have an indirect object or not. Can be used to report questions. Example: She asked (me) where I lived. Can be used to report imperatives or requests. Example: She asked (me) to babysit for her on Friday. In reported speech, we normally use a "that clause", but depending on the reporting verbs used other structures are also possible.

  19. Reporting verbs

    Reporting verbs are usually written in the present tense. Example: Playing golf appears to have significant benefits for a person's physical and mental health (Woods & Norman, 2018). Use the past tense when reporting specific findings of a previous study or describing how the study was conducted.

  20. REPORT

    to make a complaint to a person in authority about something or someone: My neighbours reported me to the police for firing my rifle in the garden. More examples SMART Vocabulary: related words and phrases report verb (GO) [ I usually + adv/prep ] to go to a place or a person and say that you are there:

  21. Reporting verbs

    Reporting verbs - admit doing, refuse to do, etc. Exercise 1 Choose the correct option to complete the sentences below. 1 My mum insisted me the money. 2 She recommended the first flight home. 3 I could finally persuade Megan it. 4 He warned careful. 5 The doctor asked drinking coffee. 6 I told come with us. 7 They offered me home.

  22. Reporting Verbs: Important List of 85 Reporting Verbs ...

    Some of the most common reporting verbs include "say," "tell," "ask," "warn," "suggest," "advise," "promise," and "offer." The choice of which reporting verb to use depends on the context of the sentence and the tone that we want to convey. Here is a list of some common reporting verbs and their meanings:

  23. VOCABULARY: How to use reporting verbs like insist, demand ...

    For more on reporting verbs: http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/english/course/intermediate/unit-11Do you ever need to talk about what someone said? Or wha...

  24. Word of the Day: Rapport

    Did You Know? The word rapport bears a resemblance to a more common English word, report, which is no coincidence: both words come ultimately from the Latin verb portare, meaning "to carry," and both traveled through French words meaning "to bring back" on their way to English. Report has been in use since the 14th century, when it entered Middle English by way of Anglo-French.