Corpus-based Data Driven Learning

Reporting verbs


Students seem to have difficulties using reporting verbs properly. The following is a comparison of the frequencies of reporting verbs used by students and professionals in the 1-million-word learner corpus and the 1-million-word professional corpus:



Learner Corpus

Profession Corpus



show[450] showed[107] showing[105] shown[237] shows[380]


show[271] showed[259]

showing[70] shown[266] shows[271]     



say[523] said[468] saying[153] says[112]


say[249] said[261] saying[90] says[46]



explain[292] explained[179] explaining[57] explains[71]    


explain[158] explained[119] explaining[39] explains[46]    



state[101] stated[254] states[193] stating[30]       


state[175] stated[84] states[252] stating[15]       



suggest[102] suggested[332] suggesting[14] suggests[144]


suggest[270] suggested[249] suggesting[88] suggests[351]

point out


point[37] points[51]  pointing[4] pointed [150]


point[50] points [83] pointing [13] pointed [61]



claim[43] claimed[75] claiming[9] claims[44]


claim[92] claimed[73] claiming[15] claims[95]



argue[50] argued[43] argues[27]


argue[132] argued[159] argues[140] arguing[23]



propose[18] proposed[87] proposes[15] proposing[3]


propose[57] proposed[182] proposes[58] proposing[15]


From the above statistics, we can see that students over-use or under-use different reporting verbs:


Over-used reporting verbs by students:

¡¥say¡¦ 1256/646 (100% more) and ¡¥explain¡¦ 599/362(60% more)


Under-used reporting verbs by students:

¡¥suggest¡¦ 592/958(30% less), ¡¥claim¡¦ 171/275(40% less), ¡¥argue¡¦ 127/454(360% less), ¡¥propose¡¦ 123/312(250% less)


Similar frequencies: ¡¥show¡¦ 1279/1137, ¡¥state¡¦ 578/526, ¡¥point out¡¦ 242/207


The most problematic use of reporting verbs by students is the use of the verb ¡¥say¡¦. It is very frequently used when students try to quote someone. However, professionals hardly ever use this word when quoting someone. For examples:


Using ¡¥said¡¦ when quoting someone

From Learner corpus: 56 times

801 ntroduction: Duin and Graves (1987) said that (p. 312). To enjoy this

815 troduction: ¡@¡@As Decarrico (2001) said, and interest of the role of

819 K. , Parker, F. 1998). Lowth(1775) said it may have been based upon t

820 newed? The philosopher Wittgenstein said: (1992). If our understanding

821 simple future tense. A statement is said by Yule, < There is often a g

824 society. Fromkin, Rodman and Hyams said . In the prescribed rules of

826 bus, especially in English. Krashen said that the only way to acquire

831 more. The philosopher Wittgenstein said: Our understanding of the wor

832 06, pg. 189). Secondly, as Freeborn said, because of technological adv

837 heless, as what Gu & Johnson (1996) said, most previous research eithe

842 lopment. Moreover, Aitchison (2000) said that a Language occurs when o

853 is made up of. As Dr. Ma, Q. (2009) said that those basic meaningful e

855 ructures. Nevertheless, Yule (2006) said there are some limitations of

856 ome obsolete. Yule¡¦s (2006, pp.64) said the derivational morphemes ar

858 ning them. Yule. G (2003, pp.62~63) said that morphology is the invest

859 les governing the use of them. Yule said bound morphemes cannot stand

863 d easier. As Politzer (1970, p.127) said <¡¡±the only time you can real

867 iation. Wierzbicka, A. (2006, p. 5) said that In terms of geographical

871 (p.381). In addition, Brown (2007) said that incidental learning is (

872 . As the linguist David Wilkins has said emphatically, Without doubt,

880 g, Blachowicz & Fosjer (2006, p.24) said that News reports about the W

895 terns of colligation. Martelli also said the difference between gramma

896 inflectional morphemes. Yule (2006) said derivational morphemes are mo

904 oduction ¡@¡@As Michael (2000, p.8) said, So the very core of the task

905 Reading Comprehension Wittgenstein said . For native speakers, they l

907 academic presents. Lightbown (1993) said that research findings sugges

918 iary). Motivation As Gardner (1985) said, ¡¥Motivation ¡Krefers to the

919 f the topics. Leaver et al., (2005) said (p.66). In my revision, I fol

926 I am in agreement with Burstall who said that (Burstall [1975:17], as

937 o Ellis (Davies & Elder, 2004), who said: ¡¡±A good language learner is

938 al leaner. As Leaver et al., (2005) said: <oral learners learn by list

972 on programme time an hour Mr. Innes said. New zealand was a close seco

973 an invention, then as LÆÙmvi-Strauss said, it is a strange one. When a

975 er what Halliday, M. (1989, p. 101) said: <¡¡±If we persist in treating

1,000   e. As Fromkin, Rodman & Hyams(2002) said, language is vigorous, dynami

1,024   friendly. Brown and Levinson (1987) said that one of the main types of

1,032   ces to form meaning. As Tsui (1993) said Grammar attempts to describe

1,038   n-recurrence will increase. Skinner said that if the action recurs mor

1,039   (Seuren, 1984, p.153). Brooks also said the combination ¡¥audio-lingu

1,055   ce. Horowltz & Samuels (1987, p. 7) said, 5.2.2 Definition of Writing

1,056   son (1987) analysed politeness, and said that in order to enter into

1,108   use gestures instead. Edward Vajda said, This quote concludes the mai

1,109   n ¡¥PAT¡¦. This is like what Yule G said, The duality property of huma

1,118   ironment before. So how can Skinner said about this? The children are

1,126   mmar accuracy because Howatt (1984) said: <¡¡±the high priority attache

1,129   is a subconscious process. Krashen said: (Krashen. S. 1981). The task

1,134   foundation of education. As Chomsky said, . Thirdly, and the most impo

1,138   ers a long history. Chastain (1988) said traditional approach was firs

1,163   for speech differences. Yule (2006) said that when speech is in the di

1,164   kind of complexity. Halliday (1989) said and pointed out that spoken

1,177   ot live without it. McCarthy (1990) said (p.i, introduction) . The mor

1,194   (cited in Carter & McCarthy, 1988) said, (P.63). It should also be no

1,208   Many Forms - One Functions Halliday said, (2004, p.30). That means a

1,213   . Just like what Sperber and Wilson said, interlocutors can assume mut

1,225   advanced planning. As Hughes (1996) said, the feature is always marked

1,240   a foreign language. Crystal (2003) said the expanding circle <"involve


From Professional corpus: 1 time

646 Asian EFL context. As Thomas (2001) said, "the folk psychology of one



Also, students use simple past tense regularly when quoting someone using the reporting verb, while professions would use simple present tense, or present perfect tense. For examples:


Pointed out

From learner corpus  

125 s of lexical morphemes. Yule (2006) pointed out that functional morphe

126 ch is bad. Like what Crystal (2003) pointed out that the traditionalis

129 atism, VanPatten and Williams(2007) pointed out that it encourages lea

130 which is the Japanese. Yule (2006) pointed out that Japanese has a se

131 his, Boers and Lindstromberg (2005) pointed out that L2 lexical chunks

132 aning or function. Yule (2006) also pointed out that morphemes are the

133 p interaction. Maley and Duff et al pointed out that (Maley & Duff, 19

135 e yes/no questions, Thompson (1997) pointed out that IRF and the Feedb

136 erms of the morphology. Yule (2006) pointed out that morphology is the

137 lection and derivation .Yule (2006) pointed out that main difference i

140 h the traditionalists, Beard (2004) pointed out that the people who us

141 e researchers such as Daniel (1994) pointed out that the literature ci

143 preposition¡ÆØ. Greenbaum and Nelaon pointed out that traditional gramm

145 roaches to grammar. Victoria (2003) pointed out that the grammar of a

146 ly reflect the reality. Yule (2006) pointed out that the prescriptive

149 ing the language. As Crystal (1995) pointed out that the traditionalis

150 he text has. Cooper & Patton (1997) pointed out that the use of signal

152 h a preposition. Crystal, D. (2003) pointed out that this usage was in


From Professional corpus

62  orld Englishes. As Quirk (1990) has pointed out, it is only when a wor

63  essing. As Grenfell and Harris have pointed out: "It is not easy to ge

66  and others (e.g. Kelly, 1985) have pointed out, mechanical, mindless

68  e or she is reading. As Goodman has pointed out, readers do not read u

70  nglish prosody. As Levis (2002) has pointed out, some suprasegmental p

71  or example, Scollon (2000: 777) has pointed out that news stories are

77  esearchers in the field of EAP have pointed out that one way in which

80  hort stories. Zhang (2002: 307) has pointed out that Ha Jin¡¦s ¡¥innov

82  tural settings. Triandis (1995) has pointed out that individualist cul

85  early stages of learning. Swan has pointed out that ¡¡±mapping second-

90  to use (Jiang, 2000). It has to be pointed out that such lexical know

91  nd Burden (1997), for example, have pointed out that language teachers

95  he sake of comparison, it should be pointed out that Schneider (2003:

98  ith lower imageabililty. It is also pointed out that a major problem f

105 Greenfield 1991). Calvin (1993) has pointed out the neurobiological ad

108 nt angles. As Bialystock (1995) has pointed out, there is a neurolingu

109 e Paivio and Desrochers (1981) have pointed out, this can make vocabul

110 onal morphemes. As Croft (2001) has pointed out, variation is one of t



Data-Driven Learning exercises: Reporting Verbs


Task: to say or not to say?

Look at the following sentences taken from the learner corpus, and decided if the reporting verb ¡¥say¡¦ is used properly, if not, please revise the sentence accordingly.


1.       Yule (2006) said derivational morphemes are morphemes that make new words by adding affixes to change the meanings of words.



2.       Halliday (1989) said and pointed out that spoken language tends to have a lower lexical density than written language.



3.       Lowth (1775) said it may have been based upon those systems such as mathematics, where the multiplication of one negative number by another ¡K¡K



4.  Descriptive grammar, as ¡¥An Introduction to Language¡¦ said, it does not tell you how you should speak.



5.     Just like what Sperber and Wilson said, interlocutors can assume mutual knowledge of everything normally known by group members if ¡K¡K








Answer Key

Here are the answers:

1. Your answer is:

Yule (2006) explains/points out that derivational morphemes are morphemes that make new words by adding affixes to change the meanings of words.

Back to the questions

2. Your answer is:

Halliday (1989) points out that spoken language tends to have a lower lexical density than written language.

Back to the questions

3. Your answer is:

Lowth (1775) claimed that it may have been based upon those systems such as mathematics, where the multiplication of one negative number by another ¡K¡K

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4. Your answer is:

As stated in ¡¥An introduction to Language¡¦ (Fromkin, Rodman & Hyams, 2002), descriptive grammar does not prescribe how people should speak.

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5. Your answer is:

As what Sperber and Wilson (1995) have argued, interlocutors can assume mutual knowledge of everything commonly known by group members if ¡K¡K

Back to the questions