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signal phrase

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Definition:

A phrase, clause, or sentence that introduces a quotation, paraphrase, or summary.

Common signal phrase verbs include the following: argue, assert, claim, comment, confirm, contend, declare, deny, emphasize, illustrate, imply, insist, note, observe, point out, report, respond, say, suggest, think, and write.


See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • "Signal phrases mark the boundaries between source material and your own words; they can also tell readers why a source is trustworthy. . . .

    "Readers should not have to guess why a quotation appears in your paper. If you use another writer's words, you must explain how they contribute to your point. It's a good idea to embed a quotation--especially a long one--between sentences of your own. In addition to introducing it with a signal phrase, follow it with interpretive comments that link the quotation to your paper's argument."
    (Diana Hacker, The Bedford Handbook. Macmillan, 2005)


  • Sample signal phrases:
    • Chancellor Chase observed that "The Army is . . .."

    • According to Frito-Lay research, women snack only 14 percent . . .

    • The candidate insisted that the tariff must be reduced to a "competitive basis" and taxes . . .

    • Undernourished children have long been India’s scourge--“a national shame,” in the words of its prime minister . . ..

  • "If we mention the author's name in the text in a signal phrase ('According to Richard Lanham . . .'), then the parenthetical citation includes the page number only (18). If we use more than one work by an author, and we have identified his or her name in the text, our parenthetical citation must include a short title of the work cited and a page number (Style 18)."
    (Scott Rice, Right Words, Right Places. Wadsworth, 1993)
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