Words to Use in an Essay

When writing essays, it is important to use certain words and phrases to ensure that your ideas are conveyed effectively and professionally. We divided the words by essay parts they are usually used in and provided an example of such a part for you to see how it can look.

Some certain formalities and standards should be met when writing an essay, and using the right words can help you to do so. To get started, try incorporating the words and phrases below into your next essay.

Words for Introductions

The essay introduction is very important. The main purpose of the introduction is to grab the reader’s attention and give them an idea of what your essay will be about. And there are certain essay phrases and words that are often used in this section.

In your first sentence, you can start with a hook or make a general statement about your topic. The usage of this technique can often be seen in an argumentative or persuasive essay.

Examples of words to use in your hook: according to, surprisingly, unbelievably, ironically, did you know that.

The next several sentences should be used to provide context for your essay. This is where you give some background information about your topic.

End your introduction with a thesis statement that tells the reader what your paper will be about.

Examples of words to use in your thesis: to prove, to argue, in order to, in this paper.

Example of an introduction:

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 66% of Americans say that immigration is a good thing for the United States. Surprisingly, this is up from just 47% in 2010. But why? Unbelievably, the majority of Americans believe that immigrants strengthen the country. In order to better understand this shift in public opinion, this paper will argue that the increase in support for immigration is due to the changing demographics of the United States, growing economic benefits of immigration, and evolving social attitudes.

Words for Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs are where you will make your argument. Each body paragraph should have a topic sentence that introduces the key point of the paragraph.

Examples of words to use in topic sentences: first, secondly, thirdly, to begin with, in addition, another point.

The rest of the paragraph should be used to support the topic sentence. Use specific and concrete evidence from your research to support your main point.

Example of a body paragraph:

The first major reason that the support for immigration has increased is due to the changing demographics of the United States. The United States has become more diverse, and the electorate is becoming more diverse as well. In 2016, 36% of eligible voters were non-white, up from 28% in 2008. As the United States becomes more diverse, support for immigration is likely to continue to grow. Hence, the changing demographics of the United States is a significant factor in the increasing support for immigration.

Note: Check our separate guide dedicated to words and phrases that you can use to begin sentences: Sentence Starters

Words for Conclusions

In a concluding paragraph, you usually restate your thesis statement and provide a final analysis of the whole essay or call to action. But do not add any new information in this last paragraph.

Examples of words to use in your conclusion: in conclusion, therefore, finally, consequently, in the final analysis, considering all the points above.

Example of a conclusion:

Considering all the points above, the support for immigration has in fact increased due to the changing demographics of the United States, the growing economic benefits of immigration, and evolving social attitudes. Hence, Americans have become more supportive of immigration because it is seen as beneficial to the country. Therefore, it is important to continue to have an open and welcoming attitude towards immigrants.

Words to Use for Transitions

Transition words or phrases show the relationship between ideas. They help to connect your ideas and make your academic essays flow smoothly.

In addition to providing structure, transitions can also help readers to follow your argument by signposting how the paragraph is connected to what came before and what will come after. To begin with, secondly, in the first place, also, furthermore, lastly are all examples of signposts that can be used to introduce the next stage of your argument or a new paragraph. Using transitions will also make your writing sound more professional and academic.

Examples of words to use for transitions: in addition, furthermore, moreover, to begin with, secondly.

You can check more categorized examples of various words and phrases in the table below:

PurposeWordsUsage
Additionmoreover, also, in addition, furthermore, moreover, besides, too, additionally, as wellIntroduce new ideas or emphasize points
Alternativealternatively, on the other hand, instead, contrarily, conversely, nevertheless, nonetheless, notwithstandingIntroduce an alternative view or idea to refute or explore.
Attributionaccording to, as claimed by, allegedly, reports, states, explains, agrees, assumes, believesIntroduce an outside authority's view with various connotations.
Causationbecause, since, as, owing to, due to, as a result of, therefore, thus, hence, consequentlyShow that something is the cause of an effect and vice versa.
Certaintywithout a doubt, definitely, assuredly, undoubtedly, surelyEmphasize the degree of certainty you have about something.
Comparisonsimilarly, likewise, in the same way, just as, correspondingly, appropriately, effectively, to a comparable degree or extentCompare things and show similarities between them.
Concessionalthough, even though, despite, in spite of, whereas, whileAcknowledge the existing counterarguments or positions without weakening your own.
Conclusionin conclusion, to conclude, in summary, ultimately, finally, to sum upConclude an essay or speech in a strong and convincing manner.
Conditionif, unless, provided that, given that, only ifEstablish a condition for something to be or happen.
Contrasthowever, on the other hand, in contrast, nevertheless, nonetheless, in spite of, despiteJoin two contrasting ideas or clauses together.
Definitionis, means, refers to, denotes, symbolizes, represents, signifiesDefine something or expand on the meaning of something.
Emphasisabove all, in fact, indeed, truly, of course, certainly, absolutely, definitely, without a doubtEmphasize your point or an important passage.
Evaluation (+)significant, essential, major, relevant, valid, valuable, critical, accurate, powerful, strongIntensify the meaning of some words by evaluating them positively.
Evaluation (-)problematic, unrealistic, minor, insignificant, questionable, flawed, biased, subjective, limited, weakIntensify the meaning of some words by evaluating them negatively.
Examplefor instance, to illustrate this, such as, in other words, in essence, that is to say, namely, in particular, specificallyIllustrate something and how an example.
Explanationbecause, since, due to, as a result of, therefore, consequently, thus, hence, meanwhile, overallProvide explanation and build logical connections.
Frequencyoften, sometimes, occasionally, rarely, never, once in a while, every now and then, a couple of times a week/month, once in a blue moonShow how frequently something occurs.
Guidancefirst, second, third, next, then, finally, after that, soon, in a moment, nowOrder your thoughts or elements within the essay.
Hypothesismight, may, could, possible, probable, likely, suggestion, speculation, theory, conjectureShow that something is speculative or improbable.

Let’s take a look at some of them in more detail.

Adding information

Words: moreover, also, in addition, furthermore, moreover, besides, too, additionally, as well.

Usage: Used when you want to add information to what has already been stated.

Example: The article argues that social media is having a negative effect on teenagers’ mental health. Moreover, it suggests that spending more than two hours a day on social media can lead to anxiety and depression.

Introducing opposing views

Words: alternatively, on the other hand, instead, contrarily, conversely, nevertheless, nonetheless, notwithstanding

Usage: Used to introduce opposing views or counterarguments to refute them later or just inform the reader of them.

Example: Some people believe that social media is having a negative effect on our mental health. Alternatively, others argue that it can actually help us to connect with each other and share important information quickly.

Introducing someone’s opinion or claim

Words: according to, as claimed by, allegedly, reports, states, explains, agrees, assumes, believes.

Usage: Used to introduce someone else’s opinion or claim, usually in the form of a quote or paraphrasing.

Example: Milligan believes that “social media is causing more harm than good” (par. 5).

Showing causation

Words: because, since, as, owing to, due to, as a result of, therefore, thus, hence, consequently

Usage: Used to show the cause and effect relationship between two things.

Example: Since people are spending more time on social media, they are becoming more isolated and anxious.

Expressing certainty

Words: without a doubt, definitely, assuredly, undoubtedly, surely, absolutely, certainly.

Usage: Used to express how certain you are about something.

Example: It is undoubtedly true that social media has had a negative effect on our mental health.

Comparing things

Words: similarly, likewise, in the same way, just as, correspondingly, appropriately, effectively, to a comparable degree or extent.

Usage: Used to compare two things when you want to show that they are similar in some way.

Example: Just as too much sugar can be bad for our physical health, spending too much time on social media can be bad for our mental health.

Acknowledging other views

Words: although, even though, despite, in spite of, whereas, whileю

Usage: Used to acknowledge other views before refuting them or showing why they are not valid.

Example: Even though some people believe that social media is beneficial, the evidence suggests that it is actually having a negative effect on our mental health.

Drawing a conclusion

Words: in conclusion, to conclude, in summary, ultimately, finally, to sum up, in the final analysis, all things considered.

Usage: Used to draw a conclusion based on the information that has been presented.

Example: In the final analysis, it is clear that social media is having a negative effect on our mental health. We should therefore be careful about how much time we spend on it.

Establishing conditions

Words: if, unless, provided that, given that, only if, in the event that

Usage: Used to establish conditions that must be met in order for something to happen.

Example: Unless we limit our time on social media, it will continue to have a negative effect on our mental health.

Contrasting

Words: however, on the other hand, in contrast, nevertheless, nonetheless, in spite of, despite, still.

Usage: Used to contrast two ideas or show why one is more valid than the other.

Example: Yes, we should be careful about the amount of time we spend on social media. However, we should also remember that it can be a useful tool for staying connected with friends and family.

Introducing examples

Words: for instance, to illustrate this, such as, in other words, in essence, that is to say, namely, in particular, specifically

Usage: Used to introduce examples that support the point you are making.

Example: There are many reasons why people use social media. For instance, it can help them stay connected with friends and family, share important news and events, and access information quickly.

General word choice tips

Besides a list of words, there are other useful tips that can help you make your essay writing better:

  • Use words that are specific and concrete. This will make your argument more convincing.
    • Instead of: The author makes a good point.
    • Try: The author’s argument is well-supported by evidence.
  • Use active voice. This means that the subject of the sentence is doing the verb, rather than the verb happening to the subject. Active voice is more concise and easier to read.
    • Instead of: The essay was written by me.
    • Try: I wrote the essay.
  • Use strong verbs and adjectives. This will make your writing more interesting and persuasive.
    • Instead of: The author’s argument is good.
    • Try: The author’s argument is compelling.
  • Avoid using contractions. Contractions are informal and can make your writing sound less professional.
    • Instead of: The author’s argument isn’t very good.
    • Try: The author’s argument is not particularly strong.
  • Avoid using clichés. Clichés are overused and often not very helpful in making your point.
    • Instead of: This book is a real page-turner.
    • Try: This book is really interesting and keeps you engaged throughout.
  • Use transitions. Transitions help to connect your ideas and make your essay flow smoothly.
    • Instead of: In the novel, the protagonist is faced with a dilemma. He overcomes it by using his unparalleled wit.
    • Try: In the novel, the protagonist is faced with a dilemma. However, he overcomes it by using his unparalleled wit.

Words to avoid

In academic writing and scientific research, there are certain words that you should avoid using. These words can be overused, or they can be used in the wrong context.

  • Don’t use words that are too informal: stuff, things, a lot, good, bad, huge.
    • Instead of: a lot of people
    • Try: a significant number of people
  • Don’t use words that are too elementary: get, got, good, bad, big.
    • Instead of: get a result
    • Try: receive a result
  • Don’t use words that are too vague: some, many, a lot, stuff.
    • Instead of: a lot of stuff
    • Try: a great deal of information
  • Don’t use slang: cool, awesome.
    • Instead of: cool
    • Try: great, excellent
  • Don’t use jargon: due diligence, hard copy, holistic.
    • Instead of: involuntarily un-domiciled
    • Try: homeless

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