Academic writing: Softening language and hedging

IELTS writing focusUsing hedging and softening language

A good skill to learn in academic writing is to soften your language or use what is often called ‘hedging’. This is useful in Discussion essays when you write about others opinions. It is also useful to soften your language so that you don’t generalise too much, it shows that you have a wide range of vocabulary.

For example: here is a very general statement:

” Living in cities is very stressful, big cities are too overcrowded”

This sentence is from an essay I marked. So how can we change this to make it sound less general?

One way of doing this is to add the phrase “Tends to be..” , “Can be..” or “In Many cases…” Now lets look a the same sentence without generalising.

In many cases, living in cities can be very stressful, big cities tend to be overcrowded”

Have a look at these other ways of avoiding generalisation in Writing task 2.

Another way to use ‘tend to’ is in the negative, for example ” Tend not to….” or with 3rd person singular “Tends not to….”

“Children these days tend not to do much exercise, as a result of this, obesity levels are rising.”

Have a look at these ideas below, can you make sentences about them without being too general about it?

1. Politicians
2. Celebrities
3. Older people
4. the environment
5. Public transport
6. Cost of living
7. Married life

1. Politicians tend not to be very honest.
2. In many cases, celebrities tend to have a lot of personal problems.
3. Generally speaking, older people can be short tempered.
4. Generally speaking, developing countries have a lot of issues with pollution
5. In the majority of cases, public transport is very efficient in big cities.
6. The cost of living can be rather expensive for many people.
7. In many instances, married life can be stressful.

 

Using adverbs of frequency to soften language.

Often
sometimes
usually
generally
typically

  • It is often said that children should not be allowed to use social networking sites.
  • It is sometimes stated that the use of social networking sites has a negative effect on teenagers.
  • it is typically argued that social networking has a bad effect on young children’s minds.

Using modals and modal adjectives

could
may
might
can
probable
certain
clear

  • It is sometimes stated that the use of social networking could have a negative effect on teenagers.
  • it is typically argued that social networking may have a bad effect on young children’s minds.
  • Some people might argue that youngsters tend to be influenced more by their peers than their parents.
  • It is probable that global warming will become a much more serious issue in the next 20 years
  • It is clear that global warming will become a much more serious issue in the next 20 years  (more certain)

That clauses (useful in a discussion essay)

It could be argued that…
It is often assumed that….
There is a high probability that….
It is argued that…
It is often stated that….
Many people hold the view that…..

Task question

‘Some people believe that it is good to share as much information as possible in scientific research, business and the academic world. Others believe that some information is too important or too valuable to be shared freely. Discuss both these views and give your own opinion’

This is how I would paraphrase this task question.

Some people hold the view that it is beneficial to share a lot of data especially in business, scientific research and academia, whereas others argue that certain information tends to be too important too share openly.


Any comments? , leave them below..