Task Words Guide

Here is a list of ‘Task words’ that can be used to help understand assignment briefs. Task words explain what you have to do.


Task Words Meanings
Account for Give reasons for; explain why something happens.
Analyse Examine closely; examine something in terms of its parts and how they are related to each other.
Argue Present a case for and/or against something.
Assess Decide the value of something.
Comment on Identify and write about main issues, giving your reasons and your reactions based upon what you have read or heard in lectures. Avoid purely personal opinion.
Compare Discuss two or more things in terms of their similarities and differences.
Critically Evaluate Discuss two or more things, emphasising their differences and giving reasons why.
Critically Evaluate Weigh arguments for and against something, assessing the strength of the evidence on both sides. Use criteria to guide your assessment of which opinions, theories, models or items are preferable.
Criticise Give a judgment about the value of something and support that judgment with evidence.


Define Make clear what is meant by something, or use a definition or definitions to explore a concept.
Demonstrate Show or prove by reasoning or evidence; display and explain the workings of a system.
Describe Present a detailed account of something.
Discuss Consider and offer some interpretation or evaluation of something; present and give a judgment on the value of arguments for and against something.
Distinguish Bring out the differences between two (possibly confusing) items.
Enumerate Give an item-by-item account of something.
Examine Attempt to form a judgment about something.
Explain Make clear the details of something; show the reason for, or underlying cause of something, or the means by which something occurs.
Illustrate Offer an example or examples to show how something happens; or make concrete a concept by giving examples.
Interpret Make clear the meaning of something and its implications.
Justify Give reasons why certain decisions should be made, or certain conclusions reached.


Narrate Concentrate on saying what happened, telling the story.
Outline Go through and identify briefly the main features of something.
Prove Show by logical argument.
Relate Show similarities and connections between two or more things.
Review Report the chief facts about something, or offer a criticism of something.
State Report the chief facts about something; or offer a criticism of something. Give the main features, in very clear English (almost like a simple list but written in full sentences).
Summarise Describe something concisely.
To What Extent Consider how far something is true, or contributes to a final outcome. Consider also ways in which the proposition is not true.
Trace Consider also ways in which the proposition is not true. Identify and describe the development or history of something from some point, or from its origin.