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Task Words

​​T​​​ask words have specific meanings and tell you what you need to do. They are used in assignment instructions or test questions. Be sure you are clear about what to do before starting to write.

Task words can be used in thesis statements in order to provide a clear focus for your reader. 

Always ask your instructor if you are not sure about what you are supposed to do.




  • to break down a topic/issue into its parts and discuss them


  • to consider the value/importance of something, discuss positive and negative aspects, and give your own opinion/judgement; essentially the same as evaluate


  • to take a position on an issue and support the position with evidence


  • to describe similarities between things; could mean to describe both similarities and differences


  • to look at the differences between things


  • to identify positive and negative points and evaluate them


  • to give a clear, detailed, and precise meaning


  • to identify characteristics or qualities; often means to outline the main points


  • to identify and analyze important components of a topic/issue; often includes identifying how points relate to one another as well as the important questions/implications relating to the topic; essentially the same as examine


  • see assess


  • see discuss


  • to make a concept/topic understandable; often answers the questions 'why' or 'how'


  • to make clear by giving an example, in words or a diagram/picture


  • to present information in a series of short, discrete points


  • to give the main points (not details) of a topic in a logical order; often is in point form

Reflect on

  • to examine the personal impact of an experience/issue/information; often includes an examination of the positive and negative aspects as well as future implications


  • to make or show connections between things


  • to give the main ideas of a topic, referring to the examples and supporting ideas (without a lot of detail)


  • to provide a concise overview of something by identifying the main points; do not add your own opinion unless asked to by the instructor​



Griffith University. (2011). Directive words. Retrieved October 4, 2013, from
Queensland University of Technology Library. (n.d.). Task word glossary. Retrieved October 4, 2013, from
Western State College. (n.d.). Key task words in essay questions. Retrieved October 4, 2013, from %20Words%20in%20Essay%20Questions%20-%20-%20Final%2010-10-08.pdf​