Common Phrases In English Essays For Advanced

This is a guest post by Sam Pealing. Make sure to visit his website EnglishForStudy.com for more academic English help!

I admire international students. Seriously. If you’re a non-native English speaker doing a degree or doctorate in English, then I take my hat off to you.

I get a lot of questions about writing essays, and I’ve taught hundreds of students how to write effective essays (which get good grades). One of the most common mistakes that I see is a lack of opinion.

Most of the time, students describe a situation, but they don’t give their opinion or stance. This can really damage your grade because lecturers are always looking for ‘critical thinking’. If you don’t give your opinion in your essays, your lecturers can’t see your critical thinking.

To put it simply: If you don’t put your opinion or stance in an essay, then you’ll probably lose marks.

In this article, you’ll learn 10 effective phrases that you can use to give your opinion in your essay. I’ve also created a free lesson pack which will help you to practice the phrases in this article. CLICK HERE to download it.

Introducing the Phrases

If you’re looking for a quick fix for your essay, these phrases should help you to start putting your own opinions in your essays.

But, before you rush over to your essays to start putting these phrases in, there’s something you need to know.

If you’re writing an academic essay, you will need to support your opinions with strong evidence. This is especially true if you are using some of the stronger phrases.

This evidence can be a journal article, a lecture, a textbook, or something else which is a trustworthy source of information.

In a more informal essay, like one in an IELTS or TOEFL language test, you don’t need to support your answers with strong evidence. Your experiences or opinions will be enough.

Quick note: I know! You’re ready to see the phrases.

This won’t take long and it’s really important.

1. For these phrases to be really effective, you’ll need to review your grammar. Shayna has some great videos on her Espresso English Youtube channel.

I recommend these:

2. If you want to know the structure of a good essay paragraph, check my post here.

Informal English Phrases

These phrases are suitable for language tests such as TOEFL or IELTS. In an academic essay, these phrases will probably be too informal because they are too personal.

“In my opinion, + [your sentence]”

  • In my opinion, a good education is more important than a good car.

“I believe that + [your sentence]”

  • I believe that schools should encourage students to walk or cycle to school rather than drive.

“In my mind, + [your sentence]”

  • In my mind, no-one should have to pay for medical care.”

More Formal Academic Phrases With ‘That’

These phrases are more suitable for academic essays. If you are unsure whether you should use an informal phrase or an academic phrase, use an academic one. If you think your writing might be informal, read this post to learn more.

The patterns here are quite straightforward. Just add your sentence after ‘that’.

“It would seem that + [your sentence]”

Use this when you support your opinion with evidence.

  • It would seem that children learn best when they are feeling comfortable.”

“It could be argued that + [your sentence]”

Use this when you want to challenge an existing opinion.

  • It could be argued that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks in this situation.”

“This suggests that + [your sentence]”

Use this when you don’t want to fully commit to an opinion. You’re giving yourself some distance.

  • The evidence suggests that people who speak more than one language have more job opportunities.”

“This proves that + [your sentence]”

Use this when you are confident with your opinion. This phrase is quite strong*

  • This proves that the best way to lose weight is through a controlled diet and a good exercise program.”

“This supports the idea that + [your sentence]”

Use this one when you are supporting an opinion that you have already made.

  • This new research supports the idea that successful English learners look for opportunities to use English.”

Other Ways to Express Opinion

“Although [idea you disagree with], [idea you agree with]”

Use this when you want make your opinion seem balanced.

  • Although reports suggest that cigarettes could help people to lose weight, there are too many serious health problems associated with smoking.”

Note: The ‘although’ pattern is very effective because it shows two sides of the argument. In the example, I support the idea that smoking is bad for your health –BUT- I recognise that it could have some benefits.

Structure your ‘although’ sentence like this: Although, [weaker argument you disagree with], [stronger argument you agree with].

Using Adverbs, Adjectives and Nouns

You can use adjectives to show your opinion.

  • “This research was poorly conducted with a lack of control.”

The adjective and nouns in the example are negative. You can get some good ideas from this video on Extreme Adjectives. Note: try not to use any emotional adjectives.

Make Your Own Phrases!

Of course, these phrases aren’t the only ones that you can use! You can find more –or– you can create your own by combining different patterns.

Here’s an example of #7, #9 and #10 used together.

“Although it is difficult for older adults to learn a second language, an important study by Smith (2014) proved that the elderly can successfully learn new languages.”

What Should You Do Now?

So now you should have a better idea of how to include more opinions in your essays. But that’s not all; there are probably some new words here that you don’t know.

So here’s what you should do:

  1. Choose three of the opinion expressions and phrases that you want to try.
  2. Practice writing sentences using them (if you don’t have a topic, try this: should students do homework? You can see examples of this in the lesson pack)
  3. Get the Lesson Pack for this lesson (which contains the vocabulary and the phrases from this lesson) CLICK HERE to download it.

 

About Sam Pealing

Sam Pealing is an English language coach who specialises in two important areas: 1. helping you to get great grades at university, and 2. helping you to become an effective and confident English user. If you’re feeling frustrated or confused with English, Sam has created the perfect email course for you! You can join his course here –or- you can read more by him on English For Study.

Content:

  1. Sample Research Paper Paragraph
  2. Explanation
  3. Adding Additional Information to Support a Point
  4. Demonstrating Contrast
  5. Adding a Proviso or Acknowledging Reservations
  6. Giving Examples
  7. Signifying Importance
  8. Summarizing
  9. Stating Your Opinion

Words and Phrases Used in Academic Writing

In academic writing, there are certain words and phrases that are used consistently. If a student is able to become familiar with these words and phrases, their academic writing will certainly improve faster and their comprehension of academic texts will increase.

The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” – Mark Twain, The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain

In this post, I will share the words and phrases you can equip yourself with when writing or reading academic papers.

Academic Writing about Research

Research is an essential part of any good academic paper. Without it, claims and opinions are not viable and hardly believable. Plus, without research, it is difficult to know much about your chosen subject.

[Tweet ““Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” – Zora Neale Hurston”]

By providing evidence of research, readers can trust what you write is concrete, accurate to the best of your knowledge, and reliable. Here is a sample of research writing in action, with citations given. It is a paragraph from a research essay:

Sample Research Paper Paragraph

Video games encourage children to associate happiness and pleasure with the capability to cause pain to others. They develop the feeling that in order to be happy, one has to make other people suffer.

Children who play video games tend to develop selfish behavior (Anderson & Bushman, 2001). Video games teach the player to be dependent and since the child is often left alone while playing on a game console, he or she can develop selfish behaviors.

A certain study that was done at a Minneapolis-based national institute for media indicated that kids can get addicted to video games and exhibit social phobias. The interactive quality of virtual games is quite different from passively viewing movies or television.

The games allow players to be active participants in the script. The players who are able to benefit from acts of violence are then able to proceed to the next level (Sherry, 2001).

Phrases and Words

  • a few studies…
  • other studies…
  • a certain study, … indicated that…
  • little attention has been devoted to the impact…
  • given the lack of critical attention paid to…
  • there is a divergence between …… and what they actually do. This divergence
  • occurs because…
  • several schools of thought have emerged…
  • as shown previously…
  • prior research has suggested…
  • another factor…
  • the underlying concept…
  • the likelihood that…
  • research indicates…
  • what is demonstrated…
  • against this backdrop…
  • the central issue addressed here is the relationship between…
  • the topic of …… warrants research attention for …… reasons.
  • to answer these questions…
  • the present study attempts to crystallize …… factors which influence …… by….
  • analyzing the relationship between …… and…
  • in examining…
  • in order to better understanding…
  • a deeper understanding of the process of…
  • we illustrate this procedure by…
  • we illustrate this procedure by using…
  • our contention is that…
  • this research builds on existing knowledge in the fields of…
  • insights drawn from scholarly literature are supplemented with those from…
  • it accentuates the realization that…
  • the issue is whether or not…
  • there is evidence that …… has a positive affect.
  • these arguments suggest…
  • given this orientation…
  • the same logic underlies…
  • in this context, it is worthwhile to consider…
  • in this respect, …
  • in contrast, …
  • a major trait…
  • typically, …
  • traditionally, …
  • this leads to…
  • generally, …
  • as noted earlier…
  • whereas…
  • briefly…
  • also, …
  • still, …
  • yet…
  • accordingly…
  • initially, it may seem…
  • surprisingly, …
  • next,…
  • in contrast…
  • nevertheless…
  • as a result…
  • hence…
  • accordingly…
  • respectively…
  • as a consequence…
  • consequently…
  • thus, …
  • therefore, …
  • for this reason…
  • because of this…

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Explanation

Explaining the topics and issues within your main subject is intrinsic for writing well in academic writing. Without going into detail about the information you present, you are doing a disservice to your readers who expect to know more about the subtle side of an issue or topic.

Explanation gives readers the needed substance for learning about something new and extraordinary. You should not over-explain, as well as you should not under-explain. Find a balance in your academic writing.

Knowing key phrases and words that will lead into your section for explanation is a great way to get a head start on making your essay well-rounded and in-depth.

[Tweet ““Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Anton Chekhov”]

Sample Of Explanation

On the other hand, chauvinism as sexism refers both to males and females, as it assumes the belief in the superiority of one sex over the other.

Male chauvinists believe women must stay at home, cook and raise children, while men are supposed to live an active life, build careers and self-actualize (Iota 156). At the same time, some forms of modern feminism can be referred to as female chauvinism.

For example, despite the fact that Islam strictly prohibits male chauvinism, it is widely believed in western media that Islam accepts it as a norm. For example, Muslims are often considered disdainful in the way they treat their women, though it is not true for the majority of Muslims.

On the contrary, women often furiously argue about the numerous advantages of women over men. This can also be called chauvinism.

Phrases and Words

  • in order to…
  • in other words…
  • to put it in another way…
  • that is to say…
  • to that end….
  • besides, …
  • furthermore, …
  • in addition, …
  • moreover…
  • likewise…
  • indeed…
  • in truth…
  • in fact…
  • also…
  • as well…
  • foremost…
  • ranking above all others…
  • preceding all others…

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Adding Additional Information to Support a Point

It is never enough to give one line of thought to describe or support a claim. A claim is always weak if it is backed up in a one-sided way. That is why it is important to give a comprehensive view of your main topic to your readers.

“Sometimes I like to list the strongest arguments I can find to support a point of view I think is wrong. When I have them before me, I am up against a real opponent rather than a hypothetical one that is an easy target for me to hit.” – Lewis B. Smedes

Sample of Adding Additional Information to Support a Point

The risks associated with drug experimentation depend on various factors, such as quantity, frequency of use, combinations used, and the way a certain drug is taken.

An excess of sedatives leads to fatal overdoses. Stimulant and hallucinogenic drugs on the other hand lead to psychotic behavior and to the loss of the sense of reality.

Besides, constantly increasing doses lends to drug tolerance: the user needs to take more of the narcotic substance to achieve the desired effect. High tolerance levels also prompt overdose and even death – this especially refers to heroin.

Most of the cases of drug overdoses which have been reported involve combinations of tranquilizers, opiates and alcohol (Lyons, 2003).

Phrases and Words

  • moreover…
  • furthermore…
  • what’s more…
  • likewise…
  • similarly…
  • another key thing to remember…
  • as well as…
  • not only…. but also…
  • coupled with…
  • initially…
  • subsequently…
  • not to mention…
  • additionally, …
  • in addition, …
  • also, …
  • besides that, …
  • and…
  • apart from…
  • in addition to…
  • such as…
  • another…
  • besides, …
  • further…
  • too…
  • then…
  • of equal importance…
  • equally important…
  • another…

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Demonstrating Contrast

When writing persuasive essays, compare and contrast essays, or any essay that focuses on giving a comprehensive view on a subject, knowing how to contrast your main topic and subtopics with opposing information is important.

In order to fully present your main topic and its components, it is important to show other views that are valid. Usually, these other views are shown to demonstrate which side of the argument or issue is most appropriate to consider.

“There’s a rule of writing: if everything is funny, nothing is funny; if everything is sad, nothing is sad. You want that contrast.” – J. Michael Straczynski

Example of Demonstrating Contrast

Material goods are as easily lost as obtained: malfunctions, loss, theft, and other misfortunes easily affect the material welfare of an individual who connects their happiness only with items they possess.

At the same time, non-material factors of happiness cannot be lost so easily; in most cases, a person must undergo severe psychological pressure or go through various life obstacles to change in a negative way.

Phrases and Words

  • however, …
  • on the other hand, …
  • having said that, …
  • by contrast, …
  • by comparison, …
  • then again, …
  • that said, …
  • yet…
  • at the same time, …
  • nonetheless, …
  • on the contrary, …
  • after all, …
  • though…
  • in contrast…
  • nevertheless, …
  • but…
  • otherwise…
  • notwithstanding…
  • conversely, …
  • instead, …
  • rather…
  • on one hand…
  • on the other hand…
  • a clear difference…
  • a conflicting viewpoint…
  • despite…
  • even so, …
  • for all that…
  • still another…
  • in another way…
  • the antithesis of…
  • still…
  • and yet…
  • of course, …
  • or…
  • in spite of this…
  • actually, …
  • a year ago, …
  • for all that, …
  • strangely enough, …
  • ironically, …

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Adding a Proviso or Acknowledging Reservations

Sometimes in academic papers, it is important to note the lack of what can be said in reference to either research or comprehensive understanding.

Writers cannot always find the perfect sources or enough information for their papers, and not all subjects have enough information on them to warrant a comprehensive paper.

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” -Aldous Huxley”

Example of Adding a Proviso

Though the death penalty has had many studies done on it to record its effectiveness in deterring criminals, the studies are usually biased and run by lobbyists.

This means that the studies, even nationally recognized ones, are often flawed based on bias of the research team. Due to this issue, we have to rely on logical reasoning rather than studies that tout to be exact, when in fact they are formed out of special interests.

Phrases and Words

  • though…
  • this means…
  • due to this issue…
  • despite this…
  • with this in mind…
  • provided that…
  • in view of…
  • in light…
  • nonetheless…
  • nevertheless…
  • notwithstanding…
  • due to a lack of…
  • however, there are drawbacks to
  • due to insufficient evidence…
  • a comprehensive view of the issue cannot be formed due to…
  • since the claims were unsubstantiated…
  • since the evidence was not validated…
  • according to….the amount of information on this topic is insufficient to…

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Giving Examples

It is extremely important to supply examples to your readers which will illustrate your points. Without examples being given to illustrate your claims, a realistic picture cannot be given to your readers of what you mean to say or what you are trying to demonstrate.

Giving examples also makes your writing more comprehensive, showing other ways of looking at a topic and allows readers to investigate information further. Without giving examples in your writing, your writing can be dry, unsubstantiated, and not well-rounded.

“Really good writing, from my perspective, runs a lot like a visual on the screen. You need to create that kind of detail and have credibility with the reader, so the reader knows that you were really there, that you really experienced it, that you know the details. That comes out of seeing.” – Ann Voskamp

Example of Giving Examples

Usually, people write in their CVs something along the lines of, “Enjoy working in a team,” or “Work best in a team.” However, working in a team often means devaluing the work done.

For example, if you are a lone wolf who has just accomplished a complicated project, you get all the credit, your reputation grows faster, and you get paid more.

On the other hand, in a team, the credit cannot be given to someone specific; instead, a team manager usually gathers everyone in a conference room and says something like, “Good job everyone.”

This might be satisfying if you have a strong self-identification with your team, but usually this is not enough. This may lead to a decrease of personal interest and motivation in the work done. Do you want all the credit for the work done to be shared among a number of people? (Silverton Internet College)

Phrases and Words

  • for instance, …
  • for example, …
  • on the other hand, …
  • to give an illustration, …
  • demonstrating this…
  • illustrating this…
  • specifically, …
  • in particular, …
  • some notable examples are…
  • some exemplary examples of this are…
  • an obvious example of this is…
  • to give a brief example, …
  • to give a simple example, …
  • a case in point…
  • such as…
  • supposing…
  • let us say that…
  • some examples are…
  • like…
  • take this scenario into consideration:…
  • imagine this situation:…
  • to be specific, …
  • moreover, …
  • furthermore, …
  • just as important…
  • similarly, …
  • in the same way…

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Signifying Importance

When you want to show that a certain point in your writing is significant or should be paid more attention to, you can use certain words and phrases to do so. Sometimes, without words and phrases that mark or point out the importance of a certain point, an essay can get disorganized.

“Show what is important in order to guide others to meaning.”
- Anonymous”

Example of Signifying Importance

Why poetry matters to the masses significantly relies on individual perception. Notably, the subjective view of what poetry’s place is in social culture can be interpreted in a myriad ways.

The key subjective view to take into consideration is how poetry affects our perception of what we call reality.

The main proponents of poetry claim, above all, that poetry affects individual perception in a way that shifts one’s consciousness either permanently or temporarily.

Phrases and Words

  • significantly…
  • notably, ….
  • the key… to take into consideration…
  • importantly…
  • indeed…
  • without a doubt…
  • undoubtedly…
  • certainly…
  • surely…
  • to repeat, …
  • of course…
  • by all means…
  • make no mistake,…
  • ultimately, … is the greatest … we have.
  • above all, …
  • first and foremost…
  • again, …
  • to be sure, …
  • in fact, …
  • as a matter of fact, …
  • as I have said, …
  • as have been noted, …

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Summarizing

When you have written a large chunk of information, it is important to summarize information for your readers so they can firmly grasp what has been presented.

Summarizing can seem simple, but in fact, it is an art. It takes great effort to write simply and coherently about a vast amount of information, and to make it come together as a cohesive whole in writing.

“If I had to summarize, most broadly, my concerns as a writer, I’d say the question ‘How then must we live?’ is at the heart of it, for me.” – Claire Messud

Example of Summarizing

Overall, we can see the effect that video games have on modern American children. Studies have shown that rampant attention deficit disorder in America coincides directly with the amount of video game usage among children of 6-13 years of age.

Also, with conclusive evidence, we can see how these games are tangibly tied to outward violence at school, as the studies mentioned before illustrated that the actions seen by children within certain games were reenacted in real life (usually in the school yard).

As a last note, I would like to add that the issues associated with the link between video games and children is ever-increasing, and the United States government should take action against the high usage of such games among youth in order to salvage whatever we have left of a stable American society.

Phrases and Words

  • as a last note, …
  • conclusive evidence…
  • overall…
  • in conclusion…
  • above all…
  • compelling…
  • all things considered…
  • at last…
  • in summary, …
  • to summarize, …
  • to conclude…
  • in light of all these…
  • on the whole…
  • in summation, …
  • to sum up, …
  • in sum, …
  • in short, …
  • in brief, …
  • to repeat, …
  • briefly, …
  • finally, …
  • therefore…
  • as I have said…
  • as you can see…
  • in a nutshell, …
  • to recap, …
  • to give you a digest of…
  • to give you a snippet of…
  • here is a regurgitation of…
  • here is a run through of…
  • here is a run down of…
  • it all boils down to the fact that…
  • to get the meat of the issue…
  • as was previously stated, …
  • as has been mentioned, …
  • given these points, …
  • as has been noted, …
  • to put it briefly, …
  • consequently, …
  • in consequence, …
  • altogether, …
  • in a word, …
  • in the end, …
  • thus, …
  • as I have shown, …
  • hence, …
  • accordingly, …
  • as a result…

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Stating Your Opinion

In many types of essays, you will need to state your opinion about the main issue contained in your essay. Supplying your opinion can make your essay more personal and multi-dimensional. Often, teachers ask students to give their opinion on heated topics to demonstrate critical thinking.

“Our opinions become fixed at the point where we stop thinking.” – Ernest Renan”

Example of Stating Your Opinion

To tell the truth, I barely managed to finish reading, “The Hunger Games.” After reading such novels as “1984,” “Brave New World,” “Dr. Strangelove,” or even the recent “Metro 2033,” where dystopia and the post-apocalypse are shown in all their grimness, “The Hunger Games” looks, to put it mildly, unconvincing.

This is perhaps the best word to describe literally everything in this novel, starting with the main characters and ending with the world events that take place. If you are a logical person able to think critically, try not to take this book too close to heart.

Phrases and Words

  • to tell the truth, …
  • to put it mildly, …
  • in my experience, …
  • as far as I’m concerned, …
  • speaking for myself, …
  • in my opinion, …
  • personally, I think…
  • I would say that…
  • I would suggest that…
  • I would like to point out that…
  • I believe that…
  • what I mean is…
  • it is unjustifiable to say that…
  • to my mind…
  • if you ask me…
  • to my way of thinking…
  • in my view…
  • what I think is that…
  • as for me…
  • for me…
  • if you ask me…
  • the way I see it…
  • as far as I am concerned…
  • from my point of view…
  • I hold the opinion that…
  • my impression is that…
  • I consider…
  • my conviction is that…
  • I am under the impression that…
  • speaking personally, …
  • I dare say that…
  • I gather that…
  • I have no doubt that…
  • I hold the view that…
  • I believe that…
  • as far as I understand…
  • as far as I can see…
  • in my perception…
  • as I see it, …
  • according to me, …
  • I agree with this view/opinion…
  • I agree with this point of view, but…

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About the Author

Nicholas Klacsanzky is a professional technical writer and editor. He is currently the content coordinator of AcademicHelp.net, a website dedicated to housing a one-stop online guide to writing that benefits students and professionals alike.

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