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Cautious language

Academics use cautious language when making statements that could be challenged or where the truth may be more complicated. This is also called hedging.

👉 See also Listening » Lectures » Hedging

Adverb

  • Her death was almost certainly preventable.
  • Approximately 5,000 schools are still closed in Sindh.
  • Food security frequently takes precedence over obesity in these countries.
  • Bail hearings nearly always occur within twenty-four hours of the initial booking.
  • Stress often causes people’s eating habits to change.
  • Poor neighbourhoods in Chicago, primarily on the city’s South and West sides, have limited access to a pharmacy.
  • The odd tubular structures were probably formed by crystal growth, not tiny burrowing creatures.
  • All wars are somewhat similar when you consider the element of human tragedy.
  • Flu typically consists of fever, headache, tiredness and respiratory symptoms that resolve within 7 days.
  • When homicides occur, though, they usually are at the hands of someone the victim knows.

Prepositional phrase

  • However, in most cases the proportion of variance explained by genetic risk scores prediction R-squared remains substantially lower than the trait heritability.
  • Their development depends to some extent on the neighbourhoods in which children grow up.

Adjective

  • Rents are likely to rise when the vacancy rate falls.
  • One possible explanation is that the work has been done based on assumptions about how raindrops and snowflakes start and grow.
  • A new study has found it is highly probable that climate change is amplifying the north-south water runoff contrast in Europe.
  • Changing GP opening hours is unlikely to ease the rising burden of A&E visits.

Quantifier

  • We found relict-only sites on almost all landform types.
  • In Indonesia, many patients are diagnosed with breast and cervical cancers at a very late stage.
  • Importantly, most reports showed complete or partial remission rates higher than 80 percent.

Verb + that or + noun phrase

  • Current evidence indicates that tiotropium demonstrates significant additional benefits.
  • Our research suggests that beliefs about race take a long time to develop.
  • Our new study indicates a link between the Wnt pathway and autophagy.

Verb + infinitive

  • Each of these policies appears to promote better resource allocation.
  • Diet is believed to play a role in cancer risk.
  • But moral principles seem to be playing an important role in the explanation of official behavior.
  • The new generation of asset lockups tends to involve intangible assets.

Modal verb

  • Dyslexia could be the result of eye spots that confuse the brain.
  • Adolescent drinking may cause liver problems later in life.
  • Instructional tools that address these cognitive variables should result in improved learning by the student.

Being cautious
Academic Phrasebank

Hedging
University of Houston-Victoria

Medium certainty
Purdue University

Hedging
UEfAP

Hedging
Hong Kong PolyU

Chapters

The use of caution
Academic Writing : A Handbook for International Students

by Stephen Bailey. 5th edn. (2017)

Working with evidence
How to Write Better Essays

by Bryan Greetham. 4th ed. (2018)