Vary Verbs in Signal Phrases

The following is adapted from Diana Hacker’s Rules for Writers

Don’t introduce every quote in your whole project with “Williams SAID” and “Williams SAYS.” That’s boring and monotonous.  Instead. vary your signal phrase verbs so that you can use the verb to further illustrate the meaning of the quote. This is how synthesize sources and put sources in conversation.

“Williams SAID” is very different than “Williams CONTENDS” or “Williams CONCEDES”or “Williams REJECTS.”

Here is a random example (done in MLA), but notice how the signal phrase words which I put in bold really put the sources in conversation with one another by alerting the reader to how each differs and is similar to one another.

While Smith, owner of a famous pizzeria in New York,  believes that pizza is the best food that the Italian immigrants brought to America (199), Johns, an Italian chef who has taught at several well-know culinary schools,  argues that while pizza is indeed important, pasta, specifically spaghetti and macaroni, is really the most important contribution that the Italian immigrants made to American food culture because they are used in the majority of pasta recipes and have become a staple in the American diet (405). Contrary to both of these opinions, Hunter, a food critic for The New York Times who has a masters degree in journalism and has traveled and worked extensively in Italy, contends that both pizza and pasta would have eventually found their way into American cuisine; thus, he suggests that it is the deserts, such as cannoli and tiramisu, for which we should be most thankful to the Italian immigrants” (65).

Here are SOME verbs that are commonly used in signal phrases:

      • acknowledges
      • adds
      • admits
      • affirms
      • agrees
      • answers
      • argues
      • asks
      • asserts
      • attacks
      • believes
      • calls
      • claims
      • comments
      • compares
      • concedes
      • confirms
      • contends
      • counters
      • counterattacks
      • declares
      • defines
      • denies
      • disputes
      • echoes
      • emphasizes
      • endorses
      • estimates
      • finds
      • grants
      • illustrates
      • implies
      • insinuates
      • insists
      • labels
      • mentions
      • notes
      • observes
      • points out
      • predicts
      • proposes
      • reasons
      • recognizes
      • recommends
      • refutes
      • rejects
      • reports
      • responds
      • retorts
      • reveals
      • says
      • speculates
      • states
      • suggests
      • surmises
      • tells
      • thinks
      • warns
      • writes

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UNIV 200: Inquiry and the Craft of Argument, 006

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