Jane Birkenhead, October 25 2022

Integrated Essay Verbs

Templates can be helpful for integrated writing but you’ve got to know how to use them properly. Specifically, it's important to understand each verb that the template uses for explanations. 

Verbs that are commonly used in template phrases for explanations are NOT synonyms of each other. They have subtle variances in meaning and if you need an advanced writing score, you’ve got to understand these differences. 

One of the biggest mistakes I see in students’ writing is not matching the amount of certainty expressed in the reading and the lecture, with the amount of certainty in the essay explanations.

For example, if the reading talks about theories, and explains that experts disagree about which theory is best, that means there isn’t 100% certainty about those theories. 

The author may use verbs like these to show this:

One theory holds...
A second theory contends...
A third theory proposes...

All three verbs show a degree of uncertainty.

If you write an explanation in your essay saying, “The author asserts” then this is incorrect. 

Assert means 

"to state firmly that something is true "

But, in this case, the author is NOT asserting. The author is suggesting or proposing.

Similarly, if you write “The author states these items were used as…” then that also is incorrect. That phrase implies 100% certainty and again, this is not the case. 

You could use a modal auxiliary verb to show the amount of uncertainty. If you write, “The author states these items might have been used as…” then that is better. 

If you use templates for integrated writing and if you think your grammar is correct, but you’re not getting the writing scores you need, then this could be the reason why. 

My advice is to:

1) Check you understand the precise meaning of each verb you use for explanations, and have a handful of different ones you can use, NOT just three.

My favourite verbs to use in integrated essays are:
explains, states, argues, discusses, points out, proposes, disputes, contrasts, refutes, claims

2) Be confident using modal auxiliary verbs in different tenses - especially past tenses.

Written by

Jane Birkenhead

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