They Say Templates

These are templates for stating what arguments or ideas you are responding to - what "they say".

Introducting What "They Say"

  • It has become common today to dismiss __.
  • In their recent work, Y and Z have offered harsh critiques of _ for _.

This is specifically for refuting criticisms of another's work.

Introducing Standard Views

  • _ have always believed that _.
  • Conventional wisdom has it that __.
  • Common sense seems to dictate that __.
  • The standard way of thinking about topic X has it that __.
  • It is often said that __.
  • My whole life I have heard it said that __.
  • You would think that __.
  • Many people assume that __.

This is to challenge widely accepted beliefs.

Making What "They Say" Something You Say

  • I've always believed that __.
  • When I was a child, I used to think that __.
  • Although I should know better by now, I cannot help thinking that __.
  • At the same time that I believe _, I also believe _.

This is a way to respond to what you used to believe or are ambivalent about.

Introduce Somenthing Implied or Assumed

  • Although none of them have ever said so directly, _ have often given me the impression that _.
  • One implication of X's treatment of _ is that _.
  • Although X does not say so directly, she apparently assumes that __.
  • While they rarely admit as much, __ often take for granted that.

These help you to look beyond what is being explicitly stated and look for the unstated assumptions and implications of what "they" are saying.

Introduce an Ongoing Debate

  • In discussions of X, one controversial issue has been _. On the one hand, _ argues _. On the other hand, _ contends _. Others even maintain _. My own view is __.

This both allows you to acknowledge that there isn't a unanimous consensus on the subject and also gives you a chance to explore which side you believe to be correct.

  • When it comes to the topic of _, most of us will readily agree that _. Where this agreement usually ends, however, is on the question of _. Whereas some are convinced that _, others maintain that __.

This opening shows where people agree and disagree on the subject.

Keep It In View

Don't just say what you are reacting to just once, remind the reader if it later using what the authors call "return" sentences.

  • In conclusion, then, as I suggested earlier, defenders of _ can't have it both ways. Their assertion that _ is contradicted by their claim that __.

The Zinczenko Template

This is based on a fragment from "Don't Blame the Eater" by David Zinczenko.

If ever there was an idea custom-made for a Jay Leno monologue, this was it: _. Isn't that like _? Whatever happened to __?

I happen to sympathize with _, though, perhaps because _.