Signal Phrases

Good readers will look for the way you set up your quotes as well as the way you interpret them. Use signal phrases to ensure smooth paragraphs.

As I keep mentioning, good writers are writers who know their options. Often, a well-placed word or phrase is necessary to guide readers.  Signal phrases also separate your ideas from the source’s ideas.  This is crucial.

Here are some verbs you might use for strong signal phrases. Notice how they give away the author’s tone. Of course, the catch is that you’ll have to understand the quote and the author’s tone, which is the author’s attitude toward the work. This is the tough part! Here are some ready-made options for you:

Author is neutral

comments,describes, explains, illustrates, notes, observes, points out, records, relates, reports, says, sees, thinks, writes

Author infers or suggests

analyzes, asks, assesses, concludes, considers, finds, predicts, proposes, reveals, shows, speculates, suggests, supposes

Author argues

claims, contends, defends, holds, insists, maintains

Author agrees

avers, admits, grants, concedes, notes, agrees

Author is uneasy or disparaging

belittles, bemoans, complains, confesses, condemns, deplores, deprecates, derides, disagrees, laments, warns. (Notice how the de– prefix here lets us know that what follows goes away or from. These words have much different tones from the “togetherness” of cocom– prefixes. Little effects like this aren’t lost on careful readers!)

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