March, 2024 Newsletter

This is the newsletter for March 2024, with information about frequency data for reporting verbs and AWL word forms.

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Frequency data 📈 for reporting verbs + AWL word forms

I've recently been working with academic corpora (collections of academic texts) to provide frequency information for reporting verbs and word forms in the Academic Word List (AWL), in order to assist students in selecting which ones to study first. More details on both below.

Sheldon Smith
March 2024

Reporting verbs (by frequency)

Reporting verbs such as state, suggest and consider are important in academic writing to cite other people's work or ideas. They link in-text citations to the information cited.

There are, however, many such verbs. Should you learn them all? Which ones are most useful? This page helps by giving frequencies of common reporting verbs in two academic corpora to show which ones occur most often. Which ones would you expect? Hint: check the word cloud below!


AWL word forms (by frequency)

The Academic Word List (AWL) is a list of 570 word families which commonly occur in academic texts. The list is ideal for students to improve their academic writing. However, the total number of individual words (not word families) in the AWL is actually over 3,000. Is it really necessary to learn all the different word forms in the family?

Probably not, if they are not used very frequently. Look at this example, for the word vary in sublist 1, which has 15 different word forms. Total frequencies are show for the 6.5 million word British Academic Written English (BAWE) corpus.
- variables (1168)
- variable (900)
- variation (588)
- varying (424)
- vary (390)
- varied (312)
- variations (253)
- varies (232)
- variance (218)
- variability (106)
- variants (44)
- invariably (35)
- variant (24)
- variably (3)
- invariable (2)

It is clear that the form variable and its plural variables occur most frequently and should be studied, while forms such as variably and invariable probably occur too rarely to be worth studying.

The page not only shows frequencies in the BAWE and BNC Baby, a 1 million word sub-corpus of the British National Corpus (BNC), but also allows you to filter out low frequency word forms in order to be more selective in the ones you study.

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Sheldon Smith

Author: Sheldon Smith    ‖    Last modified: 01 April 2024.

Sheldon Smith is the founder and editor of He has been teaching English for Academic Purposes since 2004. Find out more about him in the about section and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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