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What Is Hedging in Academic Writing?

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In academic writing, it is prudent to be cautious in one’s statements so as to distinguish between facts and claims. This is commonly known as “hedging.” Hedging is the use of linguistic devices to express hesitation or uncertainty as well as to demonstrate politeness and indirectness.

People use hedged language for several different purposes but perhaps the most fundamental are the following:

  • To minimize the possibility of another academic opposing the claims that are being made
  • To conform to the currently accepted style of academic writing
  • To enable the author to devise a politeness strategy where they are able to acknowledge that there may be flaws in their claims

Following are a few hedging words and phrases that can be used to achieve this.

  • Introductory verbs – seem, tend, look like, appear to be, think, believe, doubt, be sure, indicate, suggest
  • Certain lexical verbs – believe, assume, suggest
  • Modal Adverbs – possibly, perhaps, conceivably
  • That clauses – It could be the case that…, it might be suggested that…, there is every hope that…

Hedging in academic writing

Consider the following hedging language examples:

  • It may be said that the commitment to some of the social and economic concepts was less strong than it is now.
  • The lives they chose may seem overly ascetic and self-denying to most women today.

In the first statement, the commitment to some of the social and economic concepts was less strong than it is now while in the second one, the lives they chose seem overly ascetic and self-denying to most women today.

Hedging Words

A crucial advantage in academia is that studies are often interpreted from multiple perspectives. This inherent openness leaves room for improvement and development in most fields of study.

Think you know what is hedging in academic writing and how to use it? Find out by attempting the exercise here:http://aeo.sllf.qmul.ac.uk/Files/Hedging/Hedging.html.

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thank you !

great and things are clear and direct no complications, plus very helpeful.

very informative

This appears to be insightful and educative.

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Academic English UK

 Hedging / Caution Phrases

An important feature of academic writing is the concept of  cautious language , often called “ hedging ” or “ vague language “. In other words, it is necessary to make decisions about your stance on a particular subject, or the strength of the claims you are making

Hedging Language

An important feature of academic writing is the concept of cautious language , often called “ hedging ” or “ vague language “. In other words, it is necessary to make decisions about your stance on a particular subject, or the strength of the claims you are making.

Introductory verbs:   e.g. seem, tend, look like, appear to be, think, believe, doubt, be sure, indicate, suggest 

Certain lexical verbs:   e.g. believe, assume, suggest

Certain modal verbs:  e.g. will, must, would, may, might, could

Adverbs of frequency: e.g.  often, sometimes, usually 

Modal adverbs:   e.g. certainly, definitely, clearly, probably, possibly, perhaps, conceivably, 

Modal adjectives:  e.g. certain, definite, clear, probable, possible

Modal nouns:  e.g. assumption, possibility, probability

That clauses  e.g. It could be the case that . e.g. It might be suggested that . e.g. There is every hope that . 

To-clause + adjective:  e.g. It may be possible to obtain . e.g. It is important to develop . e.g. It is useful to study .

Source: http://www.uefap.com/writing/feature/hedge.htm

Hedging Language Exercise

Rewrite these sentences using hedging language.

1.Playing violent video games causes more aggression, bullying, and fighting.

2.Mars is the focus of much scientific study and the foremost planet for human colonisation.

1.  It is assumed that playing violent video games may cause more aggression, bullying, and fighting.

2. Mars is certainly the focus of much scientific study and often considered the foremost planet for human colonisation.

For a detailed worksheet and another 6 exercises – buy the Hedging #1   download below.

Hedging #1: Cautious l anguage exercises

This  worksheet is for t eachers or students. It provides an overview of hedging / cautious language and 8 exercises to practise using hedging language to demonstrate caution.  ( see worksheet example)   Level *** ** [ B1/B2/C1] . TEACHER MEMBERSHIP / INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIP

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Advanced academic hedging lesson .

Aim: To support students in their understanding and use of hedging (cautious/tentative) language.

Time: 60 minutes plus homework task.

hedging language verbs & adverbs

  Hedging #2:  Cautious / tentative language

This  lesson supports students in their understanding & use of cautious / tentative language.The lesson includes six tasks of guided practice & two tasks of freer practice  ( see worksheet example )  Time: 60mins & homework.   Level *** ** [ B1/B2/C1] . TEACHER MEMBERSHIP  / INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIP

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