What are the different types of hedging language?

This is the second of three lessons about Hedging Language. To complete this course, read each lesson carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.   

– Introduce both general and academic hedging language

– Provide examples of academic and general hedging language

– Discuss the concept of using hedging for degrees of certainty

Lesson 2

Having discussed what hedging language is as well as its importance and purpose in Lesson 1, the next step to mastering this type of language is to understand, recognise and use the many different types of hedging language available. Such language can be more broadly categorised into two ways: general and academic.

 

General Hedging Language

Otherwise known as vague expressions, hedging language is often used by the general public to make something sound less factual, to generalise about groups or categories, or to indicate when the name of something is unknown. Informal words and phrases such as ‘about’, ‘sort of’, ‘stuff’ and ‘thing’ may be used in this type of hedging, as is shown in the examples below.

 

– There were about 100 students in the lecture.

– He’s sort of right about that, but he’s not quite there.

– What’s that stuff that a man uses to help shave his beard off?

– Do you have that thing I gave you earlier? You know, the thingy?

 

Clearly, due to its informality, such language should not be used in an academic context – unless perhaps in a relaxed seminar discussion.

 

Academic Hedging Language

Being more formal in nature, academic hedging language, as was explained in Lesson 1, is used to provide caution, politeness and indirectness to ideas and claims. As will be discussed in more detail in Lesson 3, there are nine different types of academic hedging language for a student to choose from when writing an academic assignment. We’ve provided an example of each in the table below:

Hedging Language 2.1 Types of Hedging Language

Degrees of Certainty

When using hedging language, it’s also worth remembering that such language can provide many different degrees of certainty. By placing particular hedging language onto a spectrum, with cautious words at one end and confident at the other, we can see how this language may provide variation in levels of certainty:

Hedging Language 2.2 Degrees of Certainty

Clearly, with very cautious words such as ‘perhaps’ at one end and very confident words such as ‘definitely’ at the other, a writer or speaker is able to vary their hedging language to alter the confidence of their claim or argument. Such extremely confident words as ‘definitely’, ‘certainly’ and ‘firmly’ are in fact called boosters. These overly confident words should only be used very sparingly in academic writing.

It’s also worth noting here that the degree of certainty of hedging language may also be pre-modified with particular adjectives, usually to further strengthen such language. Words such as ‘very’ or ‘quite’ may be added to a phrase such as ‘it’s quite possible that’ or ‘it’s highly likely that’ to make those phrases more confident. Additionally, one final aspect that’s also worth discussing is that it’s important for an academic not to overuse hedging language. Carefully consider whether a fact or statement needs any such language at all, and if it does then determine how much hedging language to add. Both of the examples below, for instance, contain unnecessary or over-the-top levels of hedging language

Hedging Language 2.3 Overusing Hedging
Hedging Language 2.4 Overusing Hedging
2 of 3 Lessons Completed

Materials

Once you’ve completed all three lessons about hedging language, you might also wish to download our beginner, intermediate and advanced worksheets to test your progress or print for your students. These professional PDF worksheets can be easily accessed for only a few Academic Marks.

Our hedging language guidance sheet (including all three lessons about this topic) can be accessed here at the click of a button.

Gain unlimited access to our hedging language beginner worksheet, with activities and answer keys designed to check a basic understanding of this topic’s lessons.

To check a confident understanding of this topic’s lessons, click on the button below to download our hedging language intermediate worksheet with activities and answer keys.

Our hedging language advanced worksheet with activities and answer keys has been created to check a sophisticated understanding of this topic’s lessons. 

To save yourself 5 Marks, click on the button below to gain unlimited access to all of our hedging language guidance and worksheets. The All-in-1 Pack includes every lesson on this topic, as well as our beginner, intermediate and advanced worksheets in one handy PDF.

Media

You may also wish to download any relevant PowerPoint activities, teacher resources or audio and video recordings we’ve created about this topic for only a few Academic Marks.

Click on the button below to gain unlimited access to our hedging language teacher’s PowerPoint, which should include everything you’d need to successfully introduce this topic.

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