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Top 20 academic phrases and words to use in an essay

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Find out our recommendations for top 20 academic words to use in an essay for smooth essay writing !!

For the vast majority of students, essay writing doesn’t always come easily. Writing at academic level is an acquired skill that can literally take years to master – indeed, many students find they only start to feel really confident writing essays just as their undergraduate course comes to an end! It becomes really difficult to find out words to start an essay. Introduction words for essays are hard to find and become the most important thing as they set the foundation stone of good academic essay. Selection of good words to use in an essay will ensure that the audience gets the correct message which author wants to convey. There can be number of ways in which we can select words to use in essays but choice should always synchronize with content strategy. The most crucial part of essay writing deals with how to start an essay.

words to use in an essay

If this is you, and you’ve come here looking for words and phrases to use in your essay, you’re in the right place. We’ve pulled together a list of essential academic words you can use in the introduction, body, and conclusion of your essays. One should not only focus on the big words to use in essays since sometimes they can be misleading for the audience. The focus should be towards finding out good vocabulary words to use in an essay. We should also look at positive words that start with a way to explore the content of that essay.

Whilst your ideas and arguments should always be your own, borrowing some of the words and phrases listed below is a great way to articulate your ideas more effectively, and ensure that you keep your reader’s attention from start to finish.

It goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that there’s a certain formality that comes with academic writing. Casual and conversational phrases have no place. Obviously, there are no LOLs, LMFAOs, and OMGs. But formal academic writing can be much more subtle than this, and as we’ve mentioned above, requires great skill. So these are not the right words to use in an essay.

So, to get you started on polishing your own essay writing ability, try using the words in this list as an inspirational starting point.

Words to use in your introduction

The trickiest part of academic writing often comes right at the start, with your introduction. Of course, once you’ve done your plan and have your arguments laid out, you need to actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and begin your essay.

You need to consider that your reader doesn’t have a clue about your topic or arguments, so your first sentence must summarise these. Explain what your essay is going to talk about as though you were explaining it to a five year old – without losing the formality of your academic writing, of course! To do this, use any of the below words or phrases to help keep you on track.

1. Firstly, secondly, thirdly

Even though it sounds obvious, your argument will be clearer if you deliver the ideas in the right order. These words can help you to offer clarity and structure to the way you expose your ideas. 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 using this system can be a good way to get an argument off the ground, and link arguments together.

2. In view of; in light of; considering

These essay phrases are useful to begin your essay. They help you pose your argument based on what other authors have said or a general concern about your research. They can also both be used when a piece of evidence sheds new light on an argument. Here’s an example:

The result of the American invasion has severely impaired American interests in the Middle East, exponentially increasing popular hostility to the United States throughout the region, a factor which has proved to be a powerful recruitment tool for extremist terrorist groups (Isakhan, 2015). Considering [or In light of / In view of] the perceived resulting threat to American interests, it could be argued that the Bush administration failed to fully consider the impact of their actions before pushing forward with the war.

3. According to X; X stated that; referring to the views of X

Introducing the views of an author who has a comprehensive knowledge of your particular area of study is a crucial part of essay writing. Including a quote that fits naturally into your work can be a bit of a struggle, but these academic phrases provide a great way in.

Even though it’s fine to reference a quote in your introduction, we don’t recommend you start your essay with a direct quote. Use your own words to sum up the views you’re mentioning, for example:

As Einstein often reiterated, experiments can prove theories, but experiments don’t give birth to theories.

Rather than:

“A theory can be proved by experiment, but no path leads from experiment to the birth of a theory.” {Albert Einstein, 1954, Einstein: A Biography}.

See the difference?

And be sure to reference correctly too, when using quotes or paraphrasing someone else’s words.

Adding information and flow

The flow of your essay is extremely important. You don’t want your reader to be confused by the rhythm of your writing and get distracted away from your argument, do you? No! So, we recommend using some of the following ‘flow’ words, which are guaranteed to help you articulate your ideas and arguments in a chronological and structured order.

4. Moreover; furthermore; in addition; what’s more

These types of academic phrases are perfect for expanding or adding to a point you’ve already made without interrupting the flow altogether. “Moreover”, “furthermore” and “in addition” are also great linking phrases to begin a new paragraph.

Here are some examples:
The dissociation of tau protein from microtubules destabilises the latter resulting in changes to cell structure, and neuronal transport. Moreover, mitochondrial dysfunction leads to further oxidative stress causing increased levels of nitrous oxide, hydrogen peroxide and lipid peroxidases.

And:

On the data of this trial, no treatment recommendations should be made. The patients are suspected, but not confirmed, to suffer from pneumonia. Furthermore, five days is too short a follow up time to confirm clinical cure.

5. In order to; to that end; to this end

These are helpful academic phrases to introduce an explanation or state your aim. Oftentimes your essay will have to prove how you intend to achieve your goals. By using these sentences you can easily expand on points that will add clarity to the reader.

For example:

My research entailed hours of listening and recording the sound of whales in order to understand how they communicate.

Or…

Dutch tech companies offer support in the fight against the virus. To this end, an online meeting took place on Wednesday…

Even though we recommend the use of these phrases, DO NOT use them too often. You may think you sound like a real academic but it can be a sign of overwriting!

6. In other words; to put it another way; that is; to put it more simply

Complement complex ideas with simple descriptions by using these sentences. These are excellent academic phrases to improve the continuity of your essay writing. They should be used to explain a point you’ve already made in a slightly different way. Don’t use them to repeat yourself, but rather to elaborate on a certain point that needs further explanation. Or, to succinctly round up what just came before. Here one can also try to exemplify synonym.

For example:
A null hypothesis is a statement that there is no relationship between phenomena. In other words, there is no treatment effect.

Or…

Nothing could come to be in this pre-world time, “because no part of such a time possesses, as compared with any other, a distinguishing condition of existence rather than non-existence.” That is, nothing exists in this pre-world time, and so there can be nothing that causes the world to come into existence.

7. Similarly; likewise; another key fact to remember; as well as; an equally significant aspect of

These essay words are a good choice to add a piece of information that agrees with an argument or fact you just mentioned. In academic writing, it is very relevant to include points of view that concur with your opinion. This will help you to situate your research within a research context.

Also, academic words and phrases like the above are also especially useful so as not to repeat the word ‘also’ too many times. (We did that on purpose to prove our point!) Your reader will be put off by the repetitive use of simple conjunctions. The quality of your essay will drastically improve just by using academic phrases and words such as ‘similarly’, ‘as well as’, etc. Here, let us show you what we mean:

In 1996, then-transport minister Steve Norris enthused about quadrupling cycling trips by 2012. Similarly, former prime minister David Cameron promised a “cycling revolution” in 2013…

Or

Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) aims to bridge the gap of access to electricity across the continent (…). Another key fact to remember is that it must expand cost-efficient access to electricity to nearly 1 billion people.

The wording “not only… but also” is a useful way to elaborate on a similarity in your arguments but in a more striking way.

Comparing and contrasting information

Academic essays often include opposite opinions or information in order to prove a point. It is important to show all the aspects that are relevant to your research. Include facts and researchers’ views that disagree with a point of your essay to show your knowledge of your particular field of study. Below are a few words and ways of introducing alternative arguments.

8. Conversely; however; alternatively; on the contrary; on the other hand; whereas

Finding a seamless method to present an alternative perspective or theory can be hard work, but these terms and phrases can help you introduce the other side of the argument. Let’s look at some examples:

89% of respondents living in joint families reported feeling financially secure. Conversely, only 64% of those who lived in nuclear families said they felt financially secure.

And…

The first protagonist has a social role to fill in being a father to those around him, whereas the second protagonist relies on the security and knowledge offered to him by Chaplin.

“On the other hand” can also be used to make comparisons when worded together with “on the one hand.”

9. By contrast; in comparison; then again; that said; yet

These essay phrases show contrast, compare facts, and present uncertainty regarding a point in your research. “That said” and “yet” in particular will demonstrate your expertise on a topic by showing the conditions or limitations of your research area. For example:

All the tests were positive. That said, we must also consider the fact that some of them had inconclusive results.

10. Despite this; provided that; nonetheless

Use these phrases and essay words to demonstrate a positive aspect of your subject-matter regardless of lack of evidence, logic, coherence, or criticism. Again, this kind of information adds clarity and expertise to your academic writing.

A good example is:

Despite the criticism received by X, the popularity of X remains undiminished.

11. Importantly; significantly; notably; another key point

Another way to add contrast is by highlighting the relevance of a fact or opinion in the context of your research. These academic words help to introduce a sentence or paragraph that contains a very meaningful point in your essay.

Giving examples

A good piece of academic writing will always include examples. Illustrating your essay with examples will make your arguments stronger. Most of the time, examples are a way to clarify an explanation; they usually offer an image that the reader can recognise. The most common way to introduce an illustration is “for example.” However, in order not to repeat yourself here are a few other options.

12. For instance; to give an illustration of; to exemplify; to demonstrate; as evidence; to elucidate

The academic essays that are receiving top marks are the ones that back up every single point made. These academic phrases are a useful way to introduce an example. If you have a lot of examples, avoid repeating the same phrase to facilitate the readability of your essay.

Here’s an example:

‘High involvement shopping’, an experiential process described by Wu et al. (2015, p. 299) relies upon the development of an identity-based alliance between the customer and the brand. Celebrity status at Prada, for example, has created an alliance between the brand and a new generation of millennial customers.

Concluding your essay

Concluding words for essays are necessary to wrap up your argument. Your conclusion must include a brief summary of the ideas that you just exposed without being redundant. The way these ideas are expressed should lead to the final statement and core point you have arrived at in your present research.

13. In conclusion; to conclude; to summarise; in sum; in the final analysis; on close analysis

These are phrases for essays that will introduce your concluding paragraph. You can use them at the beginning of a sentence. They will show the reader that your essay is coming to an end:

On close analysis and appraisal, we see that the study by Cortis lacks essential features of the highest quality quantitative research.

14. Persuasive; compelling

Essay words like these ones can help you emphasize the most relevant arguments of your paper. Both are used in the same way: “the most persuasive/compelling argument is…”.

15. 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.

16. Above all; chiefly; especially; most significantly; it should be noted

Your summary should include the most relevant information or research factor that guided you to your conclusion. Contrary to words such as “persuasive” or “compelling”, these essay words are helpful to draw attention to an important point. For example:

The feasibility and effectiveness of my research has been proven chiefly in the last round of laboratory tests.

Or…

Film noir is, and will continue to be, highly debatable, controversial, and unmarketable – but above all, for audience members past, present and to come, extremely enjoyable as a form of screen media entertainment.

17. All things considered

This essay phrase is meant to articulate how you give reasons to your conclusions. It means that after you considered all the aspects related to your study, you have arrived to the conclusion you are demonstrating.

18. With this in mind

Usage: Use this when you want your reader to consider a point in the knowledge of something else.
Example: “We’ve seen that the methods used in the 19th century study did not always live up to the rigorous standards expected in scientific research today, which makes it difficult to draw definite conclusions. With this in mind, let’s look at a more recent study to see how the results compare.”

19. Provided that

Usage: This means “on condition that”. You can also say “providing that” or just “providing” to mean the same thing.
Example: “We may use this as evidence to support our argument, provided that we bear in mind the limitations of the methods used to obtain it.”

20. In view of/in light of

Usage: These phrases are used when something has shed light on something else.
Example: “In light of the evidence from the 2013 study, we have a better understanding of…”

Summary

After mastering the use of these academic words and phrases, we guarantee you will see an immediate change in the quality of your essays. The structure will be easier to follow, and the reader’s experience will improve. You’ll also feel more confident articulating your ideas and using facts and examples. So jot them all down, and watch your essays go from ‘good’ to ‘great’!

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