Updated: Feb 18
What is Academic Hedging?
Today we are looking at academic hedging: a way to write that helps authors avoid inaccuracies and sound more professional.
For instance, the first sentence below makes a claim that is too strong because “proves” is difficult to defend and unprofessional in its tone.
If we add the words “may be” and “suggests,” it softens the claim and sounds more professional. In other words, it doesn't claim too much.
The problem is that without hedging claims are inaccurate, your writing is unprofessional in its tone, and instructors love to “pounce” on absolute statements like “proves” or “always” because they want to teach their students to write in an academic register.
If I say, “All Scots love oatmeal,” this is clearly a hasty generalization. I am claiming too much.
The same problem creeps into academic writing when using words like the “always,” “never,” and “unquestionably.”
Take a look at the sentences below. Which sentences do you think contain hedging? Write your answers in the comment section of this blog. Then, click this link to check possible correct answers.
There are many tools that we can use to apply hedging language to academic writings.
These include the following:
some helping verbs and linking verbs
probability adjectives and adverbs
We can also use 'that clauses' to make our writing more academic, accurate, and professional.
For further practice, rewrite the paragraph below by using hedging language. You can put your answer in the comments section of this article. Then, click here to view one possible answer.
Hedging language helps you write in a more accurate and academic way that helps your reader to place more trust in you. Thank you for reading our blog post. Please let us know in the comments section how this post has helped you and what you would like us to write about next.
Other Resources and Support
I publish YouTube videos on writing and mindsets for success every week. You can subscribe by clicking this link. You might also find our collection of free reading and writing resources helpful. Click here to get the free PDF.
Resources for Teachers
If you are a teacher and would like to teach this lesson, you can find the PowerPoint in my Teachers Pay Teachers account: Academic Hedging PowerPoint with Practice Activities.
Finally, we provide a free assessment to students in grades 1-12 to help them better understand their reading and writing levels. Click the button below to get your assessment.