Active verbs when analyzing, evaluating, or describing the work of an author or critic



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Active Verbs for Critical Essays (57b)


  • Try the following active verbs when analyzing, evaluating, or describing the work of an author or critic.

  • Try to avoid words like “seems” or “appears” as they express a lack of critical confidence. Avoid the verb “to be” (is, are, was, were, etc.).

  • Choosing an appropriate “signal” verb demonstrates an understanding of an author’s purpose and an evaluation of an author’s effectiveness

Active or “signal” verbs for evaluating sources and analyzing literature:


acknowledges leaves us with

advises lists

agrees objects

allows observes

answers offers

appreciates opposes

asserts points to

assumes presents

believes proposes

charges recognizes

claims regards

considers remarks

criticizes replies

declares reports

describes responds

disagrees reveals

discusses says

embraces states

emphasizes suggests

explains supports

expresses tells us

holds thinks

implies wants to

interprets wishes

wonders

Source: Harnack, Andrew, and Eugene Kleppinger. online! a reference guide to using internet sources. New York: St. Martin’s, 1996.




Updated 5/20/02 KM


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