Seem / appear
  • We often use seem and appear to give information without stating that we definitely know it is true.

We can use It seems / appears + that + clause or subject + seen /appear + infinitive

It seems /appears that if you read from a screen you remember less than a physical book

The new employee appears to be really hard worker

  • We use It would seem/appear + that + clause to distance ourselves even further from information, making it sound even less sure. This is more formal than it seems/ appears

It would seem / appear that nobody was controlling the spending with these credit cards

It would seem that only certain legal aspects remain to be resolved

Passive form with verbs of saying and reporting

We can use a passive form with verbs of saying and reporting for distancing.

  • It + passive verb + that + clause 
    Verbs commonly used in this pattern are: agree, announce, believe, expect, hope, say, suggest and think

It is said that sea levels will rise up to 200 cm in the 21st century

It is said that using the dishwasher saves water

  • Subject + passive verb + to + infinitive
    Verbs commonly used in this pattern are: believe, expect, report, say, think and understand

The new vaccine is not expected to be ready before next year

  • There can also be used + passive verb + to + infinitive 

For the time being, there is said to be little interest from the side of the Haitian government

There are thought to be between 13 and 14 million different species on the planet

Other distancing expressions

We can use other distancing expressions like apparently, according to, may/might

  • We use apparently to mean that we have heard / read something, but that it may not be true.

Apparently, they’re getting divorced

  • We use according to to specify where information has come from

According to new information published by the WHO the coronavirus is airborne

  • We use may /might when something is possible to be true, but we are not sure

Dinosaurs may / might have died out due to a meteorite