40 Useful Words and Phrases for Top-Notch Essays



To be truly brilliant, an essay needs to utilise the right language. You could make a great point, but if it’s not intelligently articulated, you almost needn’t have bothered. Developing the language skills to build an argument and to write persuasively is crucial if you’re to write outstanding essays every time. In this article, we’re going to equip you with the words and phrases you need to write a top-notch essay, along with examples of how to utilise them. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and there will often be other ways of using the words and phrases we describe that we won’t have room to include, but there should be more than enough below to help you make an instant improvement to your essay-writing skills.

This article is suitable for native English speakers and those who are learning English at Oxford Royale Academy and are just taking their first steps into essay writing.

General explaining

Let’s start by looking at language for general explanations of complex points.

1. In order to

Usage: “In order to” can be used to introduce an explanation for the purpose of an argument.

Example: “In order to understand X, we need first to understand Y.”

2. In other words

Usage: Use “in other words” when you want to express something in a different way (more simply), to make it easier to understand, or to emphasise or expand on a point.

Example: “Frogs are amphibians. In other words, they live on the land and in the water.”

3. To put it another way

Usage: This phrase is another way of saying “in other words”, and can be used in particularly complex points, when you feel that an alternative way of wording a problem may help the reader achieve a better understanding of its significance.

Example: “Plants rely on photosynthesis. To put it another way, they will die without the sun.”

4. That is to say

Usage: “That is” and “that is to say” can be used to add further detail to your explanation, or to be more precise.

Example: “Whales are mammals. That is to say, they must breathe air.”

5. To that end

Usage: Use “to that end” or “to this end” in a similar way to “in order to” or “so”.

Example: “Zoologists have long sought to understand how animals communicate with each other. To that end, a new study has been launched that looks at elephant sounds and their possible meanings.”

Graphs and phone.

Adding additional information to support a point

Students often make the mistake of using synonyms of “and” each time they want to add further information in support of a point they’re making, or to build an argument. Here are some cleverer ways of doing this.

6. Moreover

Usage: Employ “moreover” at the start of a sentence to add extra information in support of a point you’re making.

Example: “Moreover, the results of a recent piece of research provide compelling evidence in support of…”

7. Furthermore

Usage:This is also generally used at the start of a sentence, to add extra information.

Example: “Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that…”

8. What’s more

Usage: This is used in the same way as “moreover” and “furthermore”.

Example: “What’s more, this isn’t the only evidence that supports this hypothesis.”

9. Likewise

Usage: Use “likewise” when you want to talk about something that agrees with what you’ve just mentioned.

Example: “Scholar A believes X. Likewise, Scholar B argues compellingly in favour of this point of view.”

10. Similarly

Usage: Use “similarly” in the same way as “likewise”.

Example: “Audiences at the time reacted with shock to Beethoven’s new work, because it was very different to what they were used to. Similarly, we have a tendency to react with surprise to the unfamiliar.”

11. Another key thing to remember

Usage: Use the phrase “another key point to remember” or “another key fact to remember” to introduce additional facts without using the word “also”.

Example: “As a Romantic, Blake was a proponent of a closer relationship between humans and nature. Another key point to remember is that Blake was writing during the Industrial Revolution, which had a major impact on the world around him.”

12. As well as

Usage: Use “as well as” instead of “also” or “and”.

Example: “Scholar A argued that this was due to X, as well as Y.”

13. Not only… but also

Usage: This wording is used to add an extra piece of information, often something that’s in some way more surprising or unexpected than the first piece of information.

Example: “Not only did Edmund Hillary have the honour of being the first to reach the summit of Everest, but he was also appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.”

14. Coupled with

Usage: Used when considering two or more arguments at a time.

Example: “Coupled with the literary evidence, the statistics paint a compelling view of…”

15. Firstly, secondly, thirdly…

Usage: This can be used to structure an argument, presenting facts clearly one after the other.

Example: “There are many points in support of this view. Firstly, X. Secondly, Y. And thirdly, Z.

16. Not to mention/to say nothing of

Usage: “Not to mention” and “to say nothing of” can be used to add extra information with a bit of emphasis.

Example: “The war caused unprecedented suffering to millions of people, not to mention its impact on the country’s economy.”

Fountain pen and flower.

Words and phrases for demonstrating contrast

When you’re developing an argument, you will often need to present contrasting or opposing opinions or evidence – “it could show this, but it could also show this”, or “X says this, but Y disagrees”. This section covers words you can use instead of the “but” in these examples, to make your writing sound more intelligent and interesting.

17. However

Usage: Use “however” to introduce a point that disagrees with what you’ve just said.

Example: “Scholar A thinks this. However, Scholar B reached a different conclusion.”

18. On the other hand

Usage: Usage of this phrase includes introducing a contrasting interpretation of the same piece of evidence, a different piece of evidence that suggests something else, or an opposing opinion.

Example: “The historical evidence appears to suggest a clear-cut situation. On the other hand, the archaeological evidence presents a somewhat less straightforward picture of what happened that day.”

19. Having said that

Usage: Used in a similar manner to “on the other hand” or “but”.

Example: “The historians are unanimous in telling us X, an agreement that suggests that this version of events must be an accurate account. Having said that, the archaeology tells a different story.”

20. By contrast/in comparison

Usage: Use “by contrast” or “in comparison” when you’re comparing and contrasting pieces of evidence.

Example: “Scholar A’s opinion, then, is based on insufficient evidence. By contrast, Scholar B’s opinion seems more plausible.”

21. Then again

Usage: Use this to cast doubt on an assertion.

Example: “Writer A asserts that this was the reason for what happened. Then again, it’s possible that he was being paid to say this.”

22. That said

Usage: This is used in the same way as “then again”.

Example: “The evidence ostensibly appears to point to this conclusion. That said, much of the evidence is unreliable at best.”

23. Yet

Usage: Use this when you want to introduce a contrasting idea.

Example: “Much of scholarship has focused on this evidence. Yet not everyone agrees that this is the most important aspect of the situation.”

Adding a proviso or acknowledging reservations

Sometimes, you may need to acknowledge a shortfalling in a piece of evidence, or add a proviso. Here are some ways of doing so.

24. Despite this

Usage: Use “despite this” or “in spite of this” when you want to outline a point that stands regardless of a shortfalling in the evidence.

Example: “The sample size was small, but the results were important despite this.”

25. 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.”

26. 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.”

27. 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…”

28. Nonetheless

Usage: This is similar to “despite this”.

Example: “The study had its limitations, but it was nonetheless groundbreaking for its day.”

29. Nevertheless

Usage: This is the same as “nonetheless”.

Example: “The study was flawed, but it was important nevertheless.”

30. Notwithstanding

Usage: This is another way of saying “nonetheless”.

Example: “Notwithstanding the limitations of the methodology used, it was an important study in the development of how we view the workings of the human mind.”

Giving examples

Good essays always back up points with examples, but it’s going to get boring if you use the expression “for example” every time. Here are a couple of other ways of saying the same thing.

31. For instance

Example: “Some birds migrate to avoid harsher winter climates. Swallows, for instance, leave the UK in early winter and fly south…”

32. To give an illustration

Example: “To give an illustration of what I mean, let’s look at the case of…”

Fountain Pen.

Signifying importance

When you want to demonstrate that a point is particularly important, there are several ways of highlighting it as such.

33. Significantly

Usage: Used to introduce a point that is loaded with meaning that might not be immediately apparent.

Example: “Significantly, Tacitus omits to tell us the kind of gossip prevalent in Suetonius’ accounts of the same period.”

34. Notably

Usage: This can be used to mean “significantly” (as above), and it can also be used interchangeably with “in particular” (the example below demonstrates the first of these ways of using it).

Example: “Actual figures are notably absent from Scholar A’s analysis.”

35. Importantly

Usage: Use “importantly” interchangeably with “significantly”.

Example: “Importantly, Scholar A was being employed by X when he wrote this work, and was presumably therefore under pressure to portray the situation more favourably than he perhaps might otherwise have done.”


You’ve almost made it to the end of the essay, but your work isn’t over yet. You need to end by wrapping up everything you’ve talked about, showing that you’ve considered the arguments on both sides and reached the most likely conclusion. Writing a compelling conclusion is just one of the skills you’ll learn as part of our essay writing courses for 13-15-year-olds and academic writing for 16-18-year-olds. Here are some words and phrases to help you.

36. In conclusion

Usage: Typically used to introduce the concluding paragraph or sentence of an essay, summarising what you’ve discussed in a broad overview.

Example: “In conclusion, the evidence points almost exclusively to Argument A.”

37. Above all

Usage: Used to signify what you believe to be the most significant point, and the main takeaway from the essay.

Example: “Above all, it seems pertinent to remember that…”

38. Persuasive

Usage: This is a useful word to use when summarising which argument you find most convincing.

Example: “Scholar A’s point – that Constanze Mozart was motivated by financial gain – seems to me to be the most persuasive argument for her actions following Mozart’s death.”

39. Compelling

Usage: Use in the same way as “persuasive” above.

Example: “The most compelling argument is presented by Scholar A.”

40. All things considered

Usage: This means “taking everything into account”. Example: “All things considered, it seems reasonable to assume that…”

At Oxford Royale Academy, we offer a number of summer school courses for young people who are keen to improve their essay writing skills. Click here to apply for one of our courses today, including law, economics, business and engineering.

How many of these words and phrases will you get into your next essay? And are any of your favourite essay terms missing from our list? Let us know in the comments below, or get in touch here to find out more about courses that can help you with your essays!

Image credits: banner; woman writing I; pen and notebook; pen and flower; woman writing II; notebook; pen.

Comments (267)

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  2. Mussie

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  3. Shazab


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  6. Lyla

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  8. Ibrahim Adnan

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  21. Jared

    Transition words before a comma are totally unnecessary. Never use firstly, secondly, lastly, etc. Anyone reading your essay should know how to count. Certain exceptions do apply as they use more mature language, but basic phrases like “in conclusion” seem childish. We know what a conclusion looks like, you don’t need to tell me where it starts as long as it summarizes what I’ve already read.

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  48. mariah

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  89. fatma

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  93. Erkin

    “To sum up” is also a good one for the finishing paragraph. And it is not commonly used.

  94. Succ

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  95. Eden

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  96. Nick

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  97. Vrunda

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  98. Lia

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  99. Lia

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  100. Brenda McDermott


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  106. KittyKat300

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  107. Carol

    These cliche phrase will NOT help you write a top-notch essay. Do NOT use these.

  108. Stormy

    Are you kidding!?!
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    • sylvia

      majority, it helped a lot of people!!

    • Hope

      > you’re the one who’s kidding not the one who provided us with them. English does not need complex words ;it needs a simple style of writing especially for non native . And please if you see them a joke provide us with what’s beneficial. Above all ;) Thanks .

    • Hope

      > > you’re the one who’s kidding not the one who provided us with them. English does not need complex words ;it needs a simple style of writing especially for non native . And please if you see them a joke provide us with what’s beneficial. Above all ? Thanks .

  109. Achyuth

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  110. Tanyu Gracious

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  112. Tanmay

    That were fantabulous ……..
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    ‘ a sharp irony ‘. Meaning- a sharp contrast
    ‘ inspite of the fact that….’

  113. Rowan

    I use these words all the time in my undergrad papers, yet my lecturers always complain that theses words are high school level writing. :/

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  118. Tinye Rae

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  120. Student

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  121. Student

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  122. Mounika

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  125. Prabanya

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  128. Fernando


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  130. Chris Speck

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  131. Vivian

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  132. Ranthimo

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  133. Tuan

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  136. Wish

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  137. Kannan.P

    Could you please add more pharse. Thanks

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  140. Noosh

    i was going to use conventionally but i have already used it so i had to use significantly :D

  141. Georgia Kathleen

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  142. Inderpreet

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  143. Khirod Maharana

    I greatly appreciate & thankful…

  144. Cheese

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  145. angielski

    Very useful to have it in one place. Thanks !

  146. SJAll


    Quentin Crisp, upon being asked to give advice to aspiring writers replied:

    “Never read. This is very important. if you read books in order to improve your writing style, you will find yourself trying to write literature, instead of saying what you really mean. It’s very important not to get caught up trying to write better American prose. Don’t do any such thing. Just try to think, Am I saying what I mean? Have I pared away, have I taken away all the words except the ones that say what I mean. And then your writing will be fine. You have the most wonderful writers in America, really great stylists, people like Damon Runyon, and there’s no floweriness, no literary effect, in the work of Damon Runyon, he is as neat as he can possibly be. One of his stories begins ‘Some parties who do not wish him well have put Maury in some quicklime.’

    See: http://grammarpiano.blogspot.co.uk/2007/12/from-evening-with-quentin-crisp.html

    • Dr. Jim Loving

      > Excellent advice. Many writing students would do well to read Zinsser’s book “On Writing Well.” He emphasizes clarity in writing, and no one does it better.

  147. Asuna Yuuki

    Very useful for essay writing. Thanks a lot

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  149. lyricist chaani

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  150. Juanaye goodall

    This words are really going to help me in my graded essay tomorrow

  151. Jiya Goyal

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  152. Lekesh

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  153. ashrin

    very helpful…………!!!!!!! :D

  154. Abhishek Mandge

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    Thank you……☺☺☺☺

  155. shubham

    I think this might help me to improve my essays.
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  156. Tanya Roy

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  157. Divya

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  158. Unknown

    I think this might help me to improve my essays.
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  159. reyan

    Thanks it came in handy

  160. Shruthi

    Not useful…I want idioms and phrases please.

    • ORA Admin

      Dear Shruthi,

      Thank you for your comment. It is worth bearing in mind that examiners often consider idioms risky, as when over-used (or mis-used) they can place a candidate at a disadvantage. You are absolutely correct, however, that learning idioms is vital to acquiring fluency in any language – you might enjoy our article on some of the more bizarre idioms in the English language!

      Best of luck in your studies,

      The ORA Team

  161. hanna


  162. James

    Wow, this is really something valuable to me! I will have to jolt down all this and use them in my academic writing tmr.

  163. Jass

    Yes, it really works in my essay writing. Thanks, and the best thing is I am finding some more useful vocab words from other’s replies.:)

    • Mofasa

      > Oke i kno now veri muchh

  164. Alex Joseph

    THANK YOU so much!!

  165. yahya

    it is very helpful idea because i have exam thxn

  166. daddyshrekked

    Fantastic, wouldn’t do that well without it.

  167. BOB

    really good, I loved it!
    Would really help in my test.

  168. panthe veroski

    Thank you, it’s so useful!

  169. cp8

    This is easily the go-to site when I write essays. Thank you!

    • abdo raheem

      Thank a lot!

  170. khalid Benameur

    really these are benificial words to use and Iam going to use them

  171. Ahsan

    Really great info.
    I will use these words in content of my site in order to get best rankings.

  172. pavla

    put (or set) the record straight
    all in all

  173. Jeff B.

    Note: In my comment above, I should have specified “for college-level writing… and above.”
    Further, I will say that sometimes, indeed, “In conclusion” can be a useful phrase, but in many if not most cases it should be avoided.

    • Jeff B.

      > * Assuming, of course, that my “comment above” is actually posted after it undergoes “moderation.” Otherwise my note makes no sense…

      • Daniel

        Don’t worry, it was successfully posted

  174. Jeff B.

    While some of the suggestions in this article are valuable, I am going to have to agree with Tom Howell about the use of clichés. Many of the phrases suggested (e.g. “To put it another way” and “Another key thing to remember”) are clichés, and should be avoided in original writing.
    Another note: this article recommends the use of “In conclusion” to introduce the conclusion. My suggestion is to avoid it, and I am not the only one who feels this way. To quote the Writing Center at Harvard University:
    “Avoid phrases like ‘in conclusion,’ ‘to conclude,’ ‘in
    summary,’ and ‘to sum up.’ These phrases can be
    useful–even welcome–in oral presentations. But
    readers can see, by the tell-tale compression of the
    pages, when an essay is about to end. You’ll irritate
    your audience if you belabor the obvious.”
    (Source: http://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/ending-essay-conclusions)
    If your readers cannot figure out that from reading your text that you are presenting your conclusion, then your conclusion has more problems than simply the introduction to it.

  175. Joey

    I don’t really feel comfortable using firstly, secondly, thirdly to introduce new points… does anyone else feel the same?

  176. courage

    thanks very much.very useful we look forward for other posts.

  177. Yo


  178. Chala

    Thanks a lot for this helpful article. One question though:

    The example given for phrase 12 “Scholar A argued that this was due to X, as well as Y.” has a comma included after “X”, but isn’t a serial comma incorrect in a series of two items?

    • Daniel

      Yeah, i think it is

  179. Alex

    This is so great… thanks for the A grade

  180. sania

    really..its very helpful
    im unanimous in asserting that how this has engendered an advantageous impact..in my result

  181. nur amira

    thanks it was indeed helpful

  182. yoursif


  183. Tom Howell

    *Gasp* As someone who has studied and takes a modicum of interest in the English language, and having spent a lifetime writing scientific essays, all I can say is this list of clichés will not aid you in your academic pursuits. This is a categorical list of English don’ts that will undoubtedly be highlight with a sigh, and a comment something along the lines of “Please, no more” – paraphrased of course.
    Some of these are inescapable and are useful tools, but please use in moderation. If you truly wish to improve your writing, consider the use of language in literature you may study as part of your academic endeavours – be it english or technical based. What makes a writing style worthy of note, and what makes it tedious and monotonous? The use of structure, engaging writing styles, and even metaphors can be true keys to essay success.

    • Jeff B.

      > Tom, I must agree. In my English class such clichés as listed here would be highlighted and returned to the student with an admonition to “please use your own words,” or something to that effect.
      As I like to joke, “Clichés should be avoided like the plague.”

  184. steven O’Donnell

    I would have also included “in fact”

  185. Missy

    Really helpful ……………. Thank you guys

  186. Ayushi

    Thanks!! Really a very useful list!

  187. Lilow W.

    This article was wonderful. Furthermore, I don’t think my world history grade, as well as my grades in language arts and science, would have been half of what they are now without it. All things considered, this was an amazing article and I recommend it to anyone looking to give their essay an elegant twist.

  188. faiz

    This was useful for me.

  189. Joe

    Thanks for the list. I think it would also be helpful to include a list of words to help express the thoughts of the writers being referenced in the essay, for example, “Jacob states that teachers need to consider the learning abilities of all students” or “Williams asserts that reading English texts more often can increase the writing skills of ESL learners”. It sometimes becomes boring to keep saying, “so-and-so states that…”

    • Moe Green

      I agree, do you have any words that could help me, would be really appreciated! THANKS IN ADVANVCE

  190. Joanna

    This is helpful! Thanks for sharing!

  191. haripriya

    Thanks a lot! It was very helpful for my term end English examination!

  192. David

    Great, thanks.

  193. josphat lowoi

    Good work..I greatly appreciate.

  194. Sarah

    what a great help in teaching children in writing essay……
    Thanks a lot

  195. Anonymous

    Thank you for providing me with these phrases! They will certainly help me with my English paper.

  196. aron

    Very useful

    • Matorankle

      > hooley doley

    • ddstjrsg

      > no

  197. maimunahm

    I am writing my thesis and it really helps me with it, thanks a lot.

  198. Tim

    You did a wonderful job. Keep it up
    Tim – Saudi Arabia

  199. Ali Zorab

    Such great tips, indeed.

  200. Suus

    These words will really help me doing my English writing exam well tomorrow! :)

  201. Lysha

    Great!! Thank you so much for including the tips above

  202. william

    Thank you very much, I’m having my O-level English in about 2 hours now and you really helped me. I’m sure i can score an A now :D

  203. phertauwete

    Thanks so much, I got it.

  204. Mike

    These are reach-me-downs and the ideas you express are poorly connected. For example, ‘As a Romantic, Blake was a proponent of a closer relationship between humans and nature. Another key point to remember is that Blake was writing during the Industrial Revolution, which had a major impact on the world around him.” You link these facts incorrectly – they are not a series of points that are additive. They are causally related, i.e. one is a consequence of the other. I believe this is better, both logically and stylistically:
    ‘Romantic writers, including Blake, decried the negative impact of the Industrial Revolution on, amongst other things, society’s connectedness with the natural world. Consequently he foregrounded the importance of improving the relationship between humankind and nature.’

    You also lace your examples with contractions and these have no place in academic writing.

    • Helena


    • Dr. Jim Loving

      > You are correct. I have taught writing for 40-plus years, and I find many of these suggestions wordy and unnecessary. For instance, “In order to” can simply to be “To.”

      • Henri

        yes it might be unnecessary but “in order to” is 3 words and “to” is only 1 word
        Keep that in mind


      Thank you so much. Exactly what I was looking for.

  205. gimhan savinda

    This was great, thanks a lot for these meaningful words. Hopefully I can face my exam in good perfect manner. Thanks a lot for the assistant support.

    • Ikoo

      I need more information about black’s writing .also,his romantic way in nature . Please could you help me ?

  206. juules

    ostensibly appears? tautologies seem to be a thing in the english language

  207. Aleena

    These words are quite knowledgeable to me because when I was writing an essay my phrases are so absurd to put it another way these words make my essay beautiful. Thank you for providing such words.

  208. Oxford Student

    Thank you, for your excellent choice of words oxford is very hard on you as it is one of the top schools so I appreciate these words.

  209. Danny

    Thank you for your help. My essay will be great!

  210. Dan

    Thanks so much, this is really going to help my essay. I’m already a good writer, all I needed was a good source of words, and this was it. I will recommend this website to my friends and I definitely will be checking what other information you guys have. Thanks!

  211. Rihards

    Wouldn’t do as great without this!

  212. Loli

    it is wonderful, you’ve helped so much!!!!!!!!

  213. Abhijeet

    Perhaps “In the wake of” would have been feasible to be included

  214. Ayanika Arora

    Thankyou……………….was really useful.

  215. Lucienne

    Thank you so much, really useful!

    • Dhanushreddy

      > very useful for students

  216. Ram

    Thank you very much.
    Useful for my revision.
    Keep in touch!

  217. Tanya

    Thanks.Very useful.

  218. Amila

    Wonderful. Thank you so much. Keep in touch

  219. Jimmy Tan

    Good tips.


      It is very useful for junior as well as to senior.It is awesome………………
      thanks for this

      • Mofasa

        > oke

        • ddstjrsg

          > no

          • Rayan

            > yeah

          • diamond


      • Vaibhavi

        >true tho?

      • felix

        > thats me

        • arjun

          > is that you

      • king kasten

        > no problem

    • ron

      > very helpful

    • RedKeyMon

      Ty bruv! It’s really useful!

      • Ranch Dressing

        >This the real RedKeyMon?

      • inosh

        Realy helpful

        • Potato man


    • winter the savage

      > yeh these words are lit

      • Wormtail


      • jay

        yeh tru tho xD

    • Freya

      Thanks!! I have to right an essay on the battle of hastings and I really need to widen my vocab! It really helped>

      • Moccha


    • rose

      > great thanks,now i know how to use big words in an argumentative essay.

    • nikie

      > very very useful!

    • Anthony

      > Thanks for the article!

    • leon lohmann

      > no, thats false

    • leon lohmann

      > DAs ist alles schwachsinn



    • Wan Smith

      > It is a good attempt to write about the important components and structure the essay or article to perform with the better assignments and build a concrete competent writing.

    • Oxford



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