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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