Speaking in Academic Contexts 

Rhetorical Functions in Academic Speaking: Expressing degrees of certainty

It is important when you are speaking to show how sure you are about something. In other words, you need to show the degree of certainty.

Examples

Look at the following examples:

We do not known, and will probably never know, when he began writing poetry. The answer almost certainly lay in the sack of papers that Susan Owen, on her son's strict instructions, burnt at his death.

 

Less finished, but more intimate, is a passage from a fragmentary "Ballad of a Morose Afternoon", which he most probably wrote some time after he had left Dunsden.

 

There were, broadly, two interrelated reasons for this. The first was related to Britain's economic and imperial difficulties, and the second to the internal dissension in all three parties. This was , perhaps , asymptom of the need for a realignment of political parties.

Language

 

Verbs

Degree of certainty

complete

is (not)
will (not)
must (not)

certain(ly)
definite(ly)
clear(ly)
undoubtedly

strong

can/cannot
should (not

probably (is)
presumably

partial

could (not)

likely/unlikely

less strong

may (not)
might (not)

possibly (not)
perhaps (not)

impersonal (i.e. no commitment)

It is said that ...
It appears that ...
A reports that ...
There is evidence to suggest that. (etc.)