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1. Reporting what people say and think
In your written assignments at university such as literature reviews and
term papers you will often need to report what scholars in your field have
said or thought about a particular issue. When you do this, you will need to
use a reporting verb such as argue or claim followed by a that-clause.
In a recent study, Chan (2003) argues that English
standards in Hong Kong’s tertiary institutions are improving.
Hunt (1987) claimed that English levels in Hong Kong
were declining but provided no evidence to support this assertion.
In the conclusion to her article, Wu (2001)
acknowledges that her research methods were limited, but she nevertheless
maintains that her findings still provide a valuable insight into the
problem of drug abuse in Hong Kong.
These words are often used to report statements and
thoughts in academic writing. Check the meanings of the words that you do
2. Using ‘it’ as a preparatory subject
If you want to indicate that an opinion or belief is
widely held, you can use the passive form of a reporting verb with it as its
The following reporting verbs are often used in this
You should use tentative language when discussing
findings or views in your reports and presentations. When you want to avoid
expressing strong claims or opinions you can use the verbs appear and seem.
In the sentences overleaf, the subject of appear and seem is
it. As you can
see, they are followed by that-clauses.
3. Referring to and commenting on facts
When you refer to facts in your assignments (e.g. research projects,
laboratory reports), you will need to use the verbs below. These verbs can
be followed by a that-clause.
You can use the adjectives below when you want to comment on facts. These
adjectives are often used with a link verb such as be, seem or
it as its subject). The adjective is followed by a that-clause.
Subjunctive nominal clauses
When you make recommendations or suggestions, you will
often need to use verbs and adjectives which indicate desirability,
necessity or advisability.
Verbs in this category include:
Adjectives in this category include:
When you use these verbs and adjectives, the verb in
the that-clause should be in the base form (sometimes called the
I recommend that the Education Department set
up a working party to study the problem of declining language standards.
It is vital that more research be conducted
into the causes of sick building syndrome.