In the age of social media where completely unrecognisable words and phrases appear online, it is tempting to carry this informality across to other aspects of your life. However, there are some occasions when only formal communication will do. We’re specifically talking essays here. It’s imperative you employ a formal tone, and there are particular academic phrases you can employ to help you achieve this.
Casual and conversational phrases have no place in academic essays. Obviously, there’ll be no LOLs, no LMFAOs, and certainly no OMGs. But, did you know there are a whole lot of other phrases which might not be so obvious or striking? What about those people that think it’s okay to write ‘you’ in an essay. This should be avoided with a suitable alternative being, perhaps, ‘one.’ Another example could be a student who confuses ‘however’ with ‘although.’ Did you know the difference? We use ‘however’ at the beginning of a new sentence, with a comma after it. On the other hand, ‘although’ can be used at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence, and it doesn't have a comma afterwards.
So, to help you find the right level of formality in your essays, we have put together this list of 10 academic phrases you can use in your essay writing. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are just a few of the academic phrases that can improve your essay writing skills.
1. Moreover; furthermore; in addition…
The flow of your essay is extremely important. This type of academic phrase is perfect for expanding or adding to a point you’ve already made without interrupting or stopping the flow altogether.
2. In other words; to put it more simply…
Again, these are excellent academic phrases to improve the continuity of your essay writing. In this case, the above terms should be used to explain a point you’ve already made in a slightly different way. Don’t use it to repeat yourself, but rather to elaborate on a certain point that needs further explanation. Or to succinctly round up what just came before.
3. Conversely; alternatively; on the contrary; on the other hand…
Finding a seamless method of introducing an alternative perspective or theory can be hard work, but these terms and phrases can help you introduce the other side of the argument.
4. According to X; X stated that; referring to the views of X…
Introducing the views of subject experts is a crucial part of essay writing. Including a quote that fits naturally into your work can be a bit of struggle, but these academic phrases provide a great way in.
The key with quotes is clarity. Leave the reader with no room for confusion; it should be clear that a quote is a quote. However, you might also like to paraphrase – make sure you credit the source though. So, you might like to say, ‘As Einstein often reiterated, the theory of....’ rather than giving a “bracketed direct quote.”
And be sure to reference correctly too, when using quotes or paraphrasing someone else's words.
5. As well as; along with; coupled with...
Take care when using these joining academic phrases, as they do not work in the same way as the conjunction ‘and’ when it comes to the subject-verb agreement. However, they do have roughly the same function, and are fine when employed sparingly.
6. Firstly, secondly, thirdly…
If you’re struggling to structure an argument without your essay becoming repetitive, this is an extremely effective method of presenting the facts clearly. Don’t be too rigid and feel you have to number each point, but utilising this system can be a good way to get an argument off the ground.
7. In view of; in light of…
These are the types of phrases you should use to add a proviso to an argument or acknowledge reservations. Either can be used when a piece of evidence sheds new light on an argument.
8. For instance; to give an illustration of…
Academic essays that receive top marks back up every point. Using ‘for example’ every time will become tedious for the writer and the reader, so here are a couple of academic phrases you can use to say the same thing.
9. Persuasive; compelling…
When concluding your essay, words like these can help you summarise your argument and explain which parts you find most convincing.
10. Therefore; this suggests that; it can be seen that; the consequence is…
When you’re explaining the significance of the results of a piece of research, these phrases provide the perfect lead up to your explanation.
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Effective writers use a variety of types of sentences to keep the reader interested in what they are reading. Here are some of the different ways to write English sentences:
1. Use Transition Words to connect ideas in sentences. Pay attention to how you begin and end your sentences. Use sentence beginnings and endings to cue readers about your most important point
Readers expect what they already know to be at the beginning of a sentence and new information at the end. One way to put this is that the beginning of the sentence or paragraph should transition/show relationship of a new idea to what you've said previously.
Everyone knows that teachers earn low wages. In spite of meager salaries, most teachers report great satisfaction with their jobs; however, most teachers quit after five years. Is this high turnover rate caused by the fact that the profession is dominated by women? No one knows for sure but statistics indicate---
2. Use Cumulative sentences: start with the main idea and then add modifiers to amplify or illustrate it.
- Mary Morrison became a teacher because she wanted to open minds, instill values and create new opportunities for students who lived in poor, inner-city housing projects.
3. Use Periodic sentences: start with the modifiers and put the main idea at the end.
- Blowing roofs off buildings, knocking down many trees, and severing power lines, the storm caused extensive damage.
Use a variation of the periodic sentence which has: subject, modifiers, verb.
- Raul Martinez, who works in jeans and loafers and likes to let a question cure in the air before answering it, never fit in with the corporate environment.
4. Use Balanced Sentences: two main clauses which are parallel in their structure are put together. This often works is the two clauses have a contrasting meaning.
- The fickleness of the women I love is equaled only by the infernal constancy of the women who love me. (Shaw)
- If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. (George Orwell)
5. Use different lengths of sentences. Most English sentences are 1-2 times of printed type. Make your sentences more interesting by having some sentences which are very short, and a few that are longer.
6. Use Occasional Questions? Exclamations! or Commands. Don't overdo this one, but it can be very effective to occasionally use one of these sorts of sentences to speak more directly to your reader.