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Indicator Words: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Communication skills never cease to be useful. In this lesson, we're going to check out indicator words and see how they can help you both present and understand an argument.

How to Argue

At some point in your life, you will have to argue something. It may be in a debate or a research paper, or it could be in a report for a boss. Even now, this lesson is arguing something: that you will one day have to make an argument. We live in a communications-based society, so being able to effectively communicate an argument is an extremely important skill to have. Let's start with the basics. An argument itself is composed of two basic components. First you have the premise, the basic idea of the argument and the reasons for it. Secondly, you've got the conclusion, the analysis of how those reasons are valid.

Since your argument is made up of a premise and a conclusion, these are the things that you really need to communicate. Luckily, there are some tricks you can use to make sure that these points get across clearly. We call the words or phrases that precede these very important statements indicators.

Premise Indicators

Indicators are words or phrases that do exactly what the name implies. They indicate that something is coming. Since we've got two basic components to an argument, we've also got two basic kinds of indicators.

First are the premise indicators, also sometimes called 'reason indicators' because they make it clear that a reason for this argument is coming. Here are a few common premise/reason indicators:

  • Because
  • Since
  • For
  • Due to the fact
  • As shown by
  • As indicated by
  • Assuming that
  • Owing to
  • Considering that

These premise indicators let the audience or reader know that a reason is coming for the argument. An argument can have a single premise statement, or it may have several, and each one generally comes with a premise indicator to basically tell everyone: ''This is a reason! This is important! Pay attention!''

Conclusion Indicators

The other type of indicator precedes the conclusion statement that summarizes the argument. Conclusion indicators let the audience know that the conclusion is coming, and that this is what your argument is all about. Common conclusion indicators include:

  • So
  • Therefore
  • Thus
  • Consequently
  • This proves
  • As a result
  • This suggests that
  • We can conclude
  • From which it follows that

Using Indicators

Okay, now that we've seen some premise and conclusion indicators, let's put it all together. Assume that you want to argue that bowties are a superior piece of menswear (because, obviously). I'm going to present this argument, with the indicators in italics:

Bowties are everywhere these days. As shown by the growing presence of bowties in society, this is a re-emerging fashion trend. They were big back in the mid-20th century but have become popular again over 60 years later. It follows that this revival is an indicator of bowties being a timeless and universal accentuation of male fashion. Therefore, bowties are a superior fashion choice that should not be ignored.

There it is: an in-depth argument on an important social issue (kind of). But can you see how the indicator words/phrases distinguish those premise and conclusion statements from the rest of the paragraph? They help those statements stand out. Read that passage again and identify which ones are the premise indicators and which is the conclusion indicator. Also, examine how each one uniquely sets up the statement that follows it.

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