• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!


They Say I Say Page

Page history last edited by Jayson Yeagley 13 years, 8 months ago

They Say/I Say Templates


This technique correctly states that no argument occurs in a vacuum, but must depend upon what others have to say about it. Moreover, one of the principle difficulties which students have with persuasive writing is an inability to correctly utilize these necessary ingredients (introduce what others have to say on the subject, and then present their own voice on the matter)...Enter They Say I Say.


Why Templates?

Academic writing requires presenting your sources and your ideas effectively to readers. According to Graff and Birkenstein, the first element in the process involves “entering a conversation about ideas” between you—the writer—and your sources to reflect your critical thinking (ix). The templates allow you, the writer, to organize your ideas in relationship to your thesis, supporting evidence, opposing evidence, and the conclusion of the argument.


THEY SAY templates: Starting with what others are saying



Templates for introducing "Standard Views"


Example: Americans have always believed that individual effort can triumph over circumstances



  • 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 ___________.



Templates for Making What "They Say" something You Say


Example: I've always believed that museums are boring



  • 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 __________________. 


Templates for Introducing Something Implied or Assumed


Example: Although none of them have ever said so directly, my teachers have often given me the impression that education will open doors.



  • One implication of X's treatment of _____________________ is that ___________________________.


  • X apparently assumes that _________________________.


  • While they rarely admit as much, _____________________ often take for granted that _____________________________.



Templates for Introducing an Ongoing Debate


Example: In discussions of freedom, one controversial issue has been local and federal laws.


One the one hand, ________________ argues ________________________.

One the other hand, _____________ contends ________________________.  Others

even maintain ____________________.  My own view is ____________________________.









THEY SAY templates cont. including 'I Say'


The Most Important Templates:

They say __________; I say _______________.

On the one hand, __________. On the other hand, __________. Author X contradicts herself. At the same time that she argues __________, she also implies __________.

I agree that __________. She argues __________, and I agree because __________. Her argument that __________ is supported by new research showing that __________. In recent discussions of __________, a controversial issue has been whether __________. On the one hand, some argue that __________. On the other hand, however, others argue that __________.


Introducing Standard Views:

Americans today tend to believe that __________. Conventional wisdom has it that __________. My whole life I have heard it said that __________.


Making those Views Something You Say:

I have always believed that __________. When I was a child, I used to think that __________.


Writing a Summary:

She demonstrates that __________. In fact, they celebrate the fact that __________.


Introducing a Quote:

X insists, “__________.” As the prominent philosopher X puts it, “__________.” According to X, “__________.” In her book, Book Title, X maintains that __________. X complicates matters further when she writes that __________.



I think that X is mistaken because she overlooks __________. I disagree with X’s view that __________ because, as recent research has shown, __________.


Introducing Your Point of View:

X overlooks what I consider an important point about __________. I wholeheartedly endorse what X calls __________. My discussion of X is in fact addressing the larger matter of __________.

These conclusions will have significant applications in __________ as well as in __________.

Graff, Gerald and Cathy Birkenstein.


They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. New York: Norton, 2006.


They Say, I Say Exercise

Directions:  Below are excerpts from various sources that you are using to write an article about recent discussions concerning narcissism and college students in the United States.  Write a mini essay of your own in which you (1) use all three sources (2) employ at least three templates and (3) inject some commentary of your own.


Underline each template that you use.

“Study: College Students Get an A in Narcicism.”  By David Crary, The Detroit Free Press.

Today’s college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors, according to a comprehensive new study by five psychologists who worry that the trend could be harmful to personal relationships and American society.


“We need to stop endlessly repeating ’You’re special’ and having children repeat that back,” said the study’s lead author, professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University. “Kids are self-centered enough already.”

Twenge and her colleagues, in findings to be presented at a workshop Tuesday in San Diego on the generation gap, examined the responses of 16,475 college students nationwide who completed an evaluation called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory between 1982 and 2006. […]

Narcissism can have benefits, said study coauthor W. Keith Campbell of the University of Georgia, suggesting it could be useful in meeting new people “or auditioning on ’American Idol.’ ”


“Grade Expectations:  Why Grade Inflation is Bad for Schools, and What to Do About It.” By Steven E. Landsburg, Slate.com

Next month, college students around the country will return to campus, hoping, among other things, to achieve high grades. Of course, "high" is a moving target. I remember when C meant "average"; today, whenever I turn in my students' final grades, the dean's office instructs me to treat C as the "minimum acceptable grade." This side of Lake Wobegon, we call that grade inflation.


“To: Professor@University.edu Subject:  Why It’s All About Me.” By Jonathan D. Glater, The New York Times

One student skipped class and then sent the professor an e-mail message asking for copies of her teaching notes. Another did not like her grade, and wrote a petulant message to the professor. Another explained that she was late for a Monday class because she was recovering from drinking too much at a wild weekend party.

Jennifer Schultens, an associate professor of mathematics at the University of California, Davis, received this e-mail message last September from a student in her calculus course: "Should I buy a binder or a subject notebook? Since I'm a freshman, I'm not sure how to shop for school supplies. Would you let me know your recommendations? Thank you!"

At colleges and universities nationwide, e-mail has made professors much more approachable. But many say it has made them too accessible, erasing boundaries that traditionally kept students at a healthy distance.

These days, they say, students seem to view them as available around the clock, sending a steady stream of e-mail messages — from 10 a week to 10 after every class — that are too informal or downright inappropriate.

"The tone that they would take in e-mail was pretty astounding," said Michael J. Kessler, an assistant dean and a lecturer in theology at Georgetown University. " 'I need to know this and you need to tell me right now,' with a familiarity that can sometimes border on imperative."

He added: "It's a real fine balance to accommodate what they need and at the same time maintain a level of legitimacy as an instructor and someone who is institutionally authorized to make demands on them, and not the other way round."


They Say, I Say, Part Two

One of the great benefits of using They Say, I Say is that the templates help to smoothly integrate other people’s ideas and quotations.  To demonstrate, consider this original section of writing.  Work together in a group of two to revise it by selecting new templates from They Say, I Say.

Step 1:  The Original Essay—Start with what’s written below.  Your task is first to highlight where the quotations are not integrated, couched or explained.

Thomas and King, Inc., a franchisee of Applebee’s and Carino’s restaurants, holds its corporate offices in downtown Lexington, KY.  I find it ironic that the corporate offices are located downtown, the metropolitan center of power in Lexington, when Thomas and King’s business model demands that its restaurants exist in the suburbs.  Applebee’s does this because people in the suburbs are lonely, supposedly.  “They want to know their neighbors and meet people like themselves no matter where they live. They want to help improve their neighborhoods and their country” (Dowd 34).  Some people, like a writer from the Wall Street Journal, disagree.  “Applebee’s is becoming something in small towns that it never did in large suburbs:  a vital cog in the community” (Gray par. 18).  One reason Applebee’s makes people feel like they belong is by creating a neighborly atmosphere.  Dining interiors get “festooned with local memorabilia to give each location an indigenous feel” (“Applebee’s” par. 4).  Yet, those who profit most richly from Applebee’s feel-good atmosphere, Thomas and King executives, hold office hours in the metropol, downtown Lexington.

Step 2:  Selecting the Right Templates—Make sense of what’s actually going on in this section.  What is the general argument?  Choose templates that best work with this paragraph and list them below:




Step 3: Implementing the Templates—Once you’ve selected the templates, re-write the problem sentences.  Depending on which template you choose, you may have to add in additional material, quotation, etc.  Or, you may have to re-arrange the order.  Take as much liberty as you like with this paragraph, just as long as you use the 3 quotations.




Comments (1)

Jayson Yeagley said

at 10:41 pm on Oct 17, 2010

"I like to think I have a certain advantage as a teacher of literature because when I was growing up I disliked and feared books." by Gerald Gaff, "Disliking books at an Early Age"

You don't have permission to comment on this page.