When you are summarizing, paraphrasing, or quoting from a source, use a signal verb to signal or alert the reader that the information that comes next are the words, sentences, or ideas from another source, and not yours alone. Use the past tense of the verb for APA and Chicago styles, and the present tense for MLA.

These are some examples of what it looks like to use a signal verb:

  • Williams (2015) stated, “....” (p. 22).
  • As the prominent psychologist Pavlov (1920) argued, “....” (p. 22).
  • Williams and Bartlett (2015) described….
  • In her book, Title of Book, Williams maintains that…. (22).
  • In the article, “Title of Article,” Williams (2015) claimed that “....” (para. 22).
  • Williams agrees when she presents….
  • Williams (2015) disagreed when he criticized, “....” (p. 22).

Note: The above examples are a mixture of APA and MLA format. APA format uses past tense verbs, while MLA uses present tense for signal verbs. Always be sure to consult your prompt to follow the acceptable formatting style.

Examples of Common Signal Verbs

  • Agree
  • Analyze
  • Conclude
  • Contend
  • Define
  • Disagree
  • Explain
  • Find
  • Identify
  • Illustrate
  • Inform
  • Introduce
  • Observe
  • Outline
  • Promote
  • Question
  • Recommend
  • Report
  • Say
  • Show
  • Suggest
  • Theorize
  • Write