Read the statements below and with your partner(s) discuss to what extent you agree/disagree with them and why:

  • Excessive internet use negatively affects a person’s sleep cycle.
  • Young people are better with computers than people over 50.
  • Online shopping will put "real" shops completely out of business in the near future.


Absolute statements and generalizations like the ones above should be avoided in academic essays and presentations. Although teachers often stress the importance of making bold statements and emphasizing key points, it is also important to know when to use cautious language. In academic English, we often use specific words to intentionally soften our language—called hedge words—for several reasons: 

  • They help you to avoid generalizations and absolute statements.
  • They help you to avoid seeming overly confident, extreme or emotional.
  • By softening your language, you can appear more credible and strengthen your arugument/findings.

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