English for Academic Purposes Writers’ Use of Reporting Verbs in Argumentative and Cause-and-Effect Essay Exams


  • Pakize Uludag Concordia University
  • William J. Crawford Northern Arizona University
  • Kim McDonough Concordia University




L2 Writing, English for Academic Purposes, EAP, Reporting Verbs, Essay Types, Corpus Analysis


The effective use of reporting verbs is an important part of establishing credibility in source-based writing. Although comparative studies of academic writing have shown that the reporting verbs used by novice and expert writers differ by discipline, fewer studies have examined whether such differences exist in English for academic purposes (EAP) writing, which often focuses on generic essay types as opposed to discipline-specific academic genres. Using a corpus of 1027 texts written by EAP students at an English-medium Canadian University, this study explored whether additional language (L2) writers’ reporting verb choices differed in cause-and-effect and argumentative essays. Adopting semantic classifications from previous research, the occurrence of 34 reporting verbs across four semantic categories (argue, think, find, show) in the two essay types were compared. Results indicated that EAP students relied on a limited number of reporting verbs regardless of essay type. In contrast to disciplinary writing, find verbs occurred infrequently while argue verbs were most frequent. Pedagogical implications are discussed in terms of the relationship between essay type and L2 writers’ use of reporting verbs.

Author Biographies

Pakize Uludag, Concordia University

Pakize Uludag is a PhD candidate in Applied Linguistics in the Department of Education at Concordia University. Her interests include L2 writing, language assessment and corpus linguistics.

William J. Crawford, Northern Arizona University

William J. Crawford is a Professor in the English Department at Northern Arizona University. His research interests include second language writing and descriptive grammar.

Kim McDonough, Concordia University

Kim McDonough is a Professor of Applied Linguistics in the Education Department at Concordia University. Her current research interests include the role of eye gaze in task-based interaction, collaboration in L2 writing, and language development in L2 writing.




How to Cite

Uludag, P., Crawford, W. J., & McDonough, K. (2021). English for Academic Purposes Writers’ Use of Reporting Verbs in Argumentative and Cause-and-Effect Essay Exams. BC TEAL Journal, 6(1), 42–58. https://doi.org/10.14288/bctj.v6i1.388