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"They Say I Say" Templates

Author: Adapted with changes by Chris Hunter from Gerald Gaff and Cathy Birkenstein

Why Templates?

Successful academic writing involves presenting both your sources’ ideas and your own ideas fairly and effectively to your readers. According to Graff and Birkenstein, to do so, you should engage in “a conversation about ideas” in which you react critically to your sources (ix). Graff and Birkenstein’s templates may help you to have this conversation in a reader-­‐friendly fashion, so that your thesis, supporting evidence, opposing evidence, and conclusion are clear. They Say / I Say discusses these templates more fully, and includes useful lists of them, especially in the end of the book. While you don’t want to adopt these templates mindlessly, the templates do provide sensible language for engaging in academic conversations, and we all benefit from adopting good language for our own purposes. Here are a few of the examples that I have adapted from their text. Remember, these forms still require proper citations so readers know who “they” are.

Introducing standard views:

Americans today tend to believe that __________.

Conventional wisdom claims that __________.

My whole life I have heard people say that __________.

Capturing authorial action (e.g., to write a summary):

X acknowledges that _________________.

X agreed that _________________.

X argues that_________________.

X complains that _________________.

X demonstrates that _________________.

X emphasizes that _________________.

Introducing quotations:

X insists, “__________.”

As the prominent philosopher X puts it, “__________.”

According to X, “__________.”

In her book, Book Title, X maintains that “__________.”

X complicates matters further when he writes that “__________.”

Explaining quotations:

Basically, X is saying __________.

In other words, X believes __________.

Making what “they say” into something you say:

I have always believed that __________.

When I was a child, I used to think that __________.

Introducing something implied or assumed:

Although X does not say so directly, she apparently assumes that __________ .

While they rarely admit as much,__________ often take for granted that _______________.

Introducing an ongoing debate:

On the one hand, X argues__________. On the other hand, Y claims__________. My own view is.

In a long-­‐accepted argument, X argues __________, but Y and others disagree because __________. In fact, Y’s argument that __________

is now supported by new research showing that __________.

In recent discussions of __________, a controversial issue has been whether __________. On the one hand, some argue that __________.

On the other hand, however, others argue that __________.My own view is __________.

As I suggested earlier, defenders of ___________ can’t have it both ways. Their assertion tha ____________ is contradicted by their claim that_____________.

Disagreeing, with reasons:

I think that X is mistaken because she overlooks __________.

I disagree with X’s view that __________ because, as recent research has shown, __________.

X’s claim that __________ rests upon the questionable assumption that __________.

Agreeing, with a difference:

X is surely right about __________ because, as he/she may not be aware, recent studies have shown that ___________.

X’s theory of __________ is extremely useful because it sheds insight on the difficult problem of __________ .

I agree that __________ a point that needs emphasizing since so many people believe__________ .

Agreeing and disagreeing simultaneously:

Although I agree with X to a point, I cannot accept his/her overall conclusion that __________ because __________ .

Although I disagree with much of what X says, I fully endorse his/her final conclusion that__________

Though I concede that __________ I still insist that __________ .

X is right that __________ but she seems to be on more dubious ground when she states__________ .

Signaling who is saying what:

X argues __________.

My own view, however, is that __________.

Yet a careful analysis of the data reveals __________.

Embedding voice markers (e.g., introducing your point of view):

X overlooks what I consider an important point about __________.

I wholeheartedly endorse what X calls __________.

My discussion of X is in fact addressing the larger matter of __________.

These conclusions will have significant applications in __________ as well as in __________.

Making concessions while still standing your ground:

Although I grant that __________, I still maintain that __________.

While __________ is __________, it does not necessarily follow that __________.

Indicating who cares:

Researchers have long assumed that __________ . For instance, one eminent sociologist, __________ , long argued that __________. However, new research has clearly demonstrated otherwise; in fact, __________.

Establishing why your claims matter:

X matters because __________.

These conclusions have significant implications for __________ as well as for __________.

Commonly Used Transitions:

Cause and Effect





As a result

Along the same lines

By contrast

As a result


In the same way





Despite the fact that


In conclusion, then





On the contrary







After all



Of course


By extension

In addition


For example

In other words

In fact

To be sure

For instance Specifically

To put it in another way


Adapted with changes by Chris Hunter from: Graff, Gerald and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. New York: Norton, 2010.

DMU Timestamp: May 26, 2018 14:45

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