Hedging devices in academic writing

In the world of banking it is possible to invest money in a so-called hedge fund. This kind of investment allows you to invest your money without being 100% certain about making a profit, even though you are quietly confident that you will.

In the world of language we can do something similar. We can use hedging devices in writing to show that we are ‘confidently uncertain’ about our claims.

Let’s take a bold claim and look at how we might use hedging devices to ‘soften’ it to show that we are uncertain but confident. Compare the following texts.

Without hedging

  • Beer is good for your health.

Although many beer drinkers would agree immediately with the above claim, academics will not be so easily convinced. This is where hedging becomes a useful strategy.

With hedging

Click on highlighted text for information about each hedging device. Click again to close.

Note that in real life it would not be a good idea to weaken claims to this degree! However, it is not uncommon for writers to use a combination of one or two hedging devices to modify a claim.

Note also that beer may actually be good for you!

Practice

Now try to reconstruct these sentences, all of which feature commonly used hedging devices!

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