I stumbled across this amazing and exhaustive list of phrases for advanced writing. I don’t know who made it but a big thank you to whoever it was! It’s gold dust!
You can download it here:
CAE – WRITING AND VOCABULARY
1) FORMAL WRITING (Reports and proposals)
|Introduction-The main purpose/aim of (this report) is to outline/|
present / discuss / examine / evaluate…
-This report (outlines/looks at)…
-This report is based on…
| Generalising-On the whole,…|
Making recommendations and concluding
|-It is clear from customer feedback that…-With regard to…, the general view seems to be…|
-In the light of (this year’s experience),…
-Perhaps the most effective way of…
-If the (centre) is to attract more customers, it is
-It would be a good idea to…
-It is (therefore) believed / obvious that…would be
-It would (not) be advisable / practical to…
-We suggest/propose that…
-We suggest/propose + ing
-A (more spacious area) would be the solution…/
an effective way of…
|-In light of the above, we believe the followingmeasures should be adopted…|
-In the short/long term, we suggest you should
-My recommendations are as follows:…
-In my view, in future, we should…
-To improve the situation, we recommend…
-It is recommended that…
-To sum up,…To conclude,…
-I hope that the plan outlined/presented in this
report meets with your approval…
-I hope that the recommendations outlined/
presented in this report will receive your serious
–Do not use contractions.
-Use passive forms whenever possible.
-Use relative clauses to join ideas: The period during which he lived was full of uncertainty.
-Use these formal words: like à such as / kids à children
a lot (of)à many / a large number of + countable noun
a lot (of)à much / a great amount of / a great deal of + uncountable
a lot (intensity)à very much / significantly / dramatically
– Avoid using the word things / something, etc. Use a more specific word (problems, situation, solutions,
subjects, and so on).
2) SEMI-FORMAL WRITING
Adressing the reader
-Have you ever wondered (what the college would be like if)…? If the answer is (yes)…, you…
–If you want a different kind of experience,… / As you know,…
-Doesn’t it just make everyone feel (positive about…)?
-If you have a few hours to spare,…is worth seeing.
|Describing location-Located / Situated (just a few miles away from…), X|
-Built (just next to…), X is…
-Some minutes from…, X is…
-Throughout it history, X…
-X is by far the oldest…
-Y is the best known…
-What is particular spectacular is…
-Recent additions/changes include…
| Giving your opinion-X is intended for youn(ger) people…|
-X is popular with (children)…
-In fact, (NEGATIVE OPINION)
-It’s clearly been a good idea to…
Giving practical information
-Anyone wishing to (apply)…can/should…
-(We) participate in…/organise…/run…
-(The club) offers/provides a range of (competitive
-One of the most popular (features of our club is)…
-Members have the opportunity to…/…are able to
-Never omit the subject pronoun: Many people
believe IT is important to… I believe IT is a good idea
– Do not use unnecessary subject pronouns: This is a problem which it is essential to solve.
-Make sure the subject and the verb agree: Attracting tourists involves improving local facilities.
(SINGULAR SUBJECTà attracting tourists + SINGULAR VERBà involves)
Attitude clauses and phrases
Annoyingly,… Naturally,… Strangely,… Surprisingly,… Evidently,…
Indeed,… In fact,… Admittedly,… Presumably,…
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
RELATED WORDS AND PHRASES
-A great number of people share the view that tourism will have a negative impact on the island.
-Today there is general / widespread agreement that pollution from cars and planes is threatening the
future of our planet.
-It is now widely accepted that the universe began with the so-called ‘big bang’.
–Opinions differ about the proper relationship between the mass media and society.
–There is considerable disagreement among experts about the usefulness of these tests.
–There has been a great deal of controversy over abortion in the US.
Advantages and disadvantages
-Regular exercise has many benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease.
-Despite a few problems with the design, the car’s advantages clearly outweigh its disadvantages.
–The major drawback of this method is that it can be very time-consuming.
–The downside of running your own business is that you are responsible if anything goes wrong.
–lead to: The research could lead to a cure for many serious illnesses.
–result in: The fire resulted in damage to their property.
–be responsible for: He was responsible for the accident.
–bring about:The war brought about enormous social change.
–give rise to: Poor performance in exams can give rise to depression and even thoughts of suicide.
–trigger:to make something suddenly start to happen, especially a bad situation such as a crisis or a war, or
a medical condition: Certain foods can trigger allergies.
–contribute to: Passive smoking could contribute to the development of respiratory diseases among
–factor: Cost is often the deciding factor when choosing any product.
–impact on: His work has had an enormous impact on the study of genetics.
–influence on: In his book, he examines the influence of the media on our society.
–affect: (v) The disease affects women more than men.
–influence: (v) She has influenced him a lot.
–implications: The results of the study could have important implications for future educational policy.
-I would like to stress that the research is still at an early stage.
–It should be noted that there are a number of alternative methods available.
–It is worth bearing in mind that 90% of the scientists researching herbicides in the US are employed by
-Factors such as temperature and acidity play a crucial role in determining how well the process works.
-These insects play a vital part in the food chain.
–It is essential that the work is carried out as soon as possible.
-The climate is much colder, especially in the far north.
–issue: Issue is used especially about problems that affect a lot of people in society: International terrorism
is the biggest issue (=the most important issue) facing the world today. Previous governments failed to
address (=try to deal with) social issues such as unemployment and homelessness.
–challenge: something difficult that you must do or deal with, which needs a lot of skill, effort, and
determination: She said she was looking forward to the challenge of starting up a new business on her
–difficulty: The company has managed to overcome (=deal with) its recent financial difficulties.
Many people experience difficulty in sleeping at some time in their lives.
– trouble: a problem or several problems that make something difficult, spoil your plans etc: Students of
English often have trouble with phrasal verbs. The company ran into trouble (=started to have problems)
when it tried to expand too quickly.
–setback: something that happens which stops you making progress or which makes things worse than
they were before: Despite some early setbacks, his campaign for the presidency was successful.
–obstacle: Criminal gangs are the biggest obstacle to democratic reform.
–dilemma: The doctors were faced with a moral dilemma.
–vicious circle: Some developing countries get caught in a vicious circle. They cannot afford to pay their
debt repayments, and so the debts get even bigger.
–increase by (percent): Last year, the number of burglaries increased by 15 percent.
–go up: Last month unemployment went up from 1.6 million to just over 1.7 million.
–grow: The volume of traffic on our roads continues to grow.
–expand: After two years of no growth, the economy started to expand again in 2003.
–double/triple/quadruple: Since 1950, the number of people dying from cancer has almost doubled.
-growth: (n) There has been a huge growth in sales of big 4-wheel-drive vehicles.
–decrease by (percent): The average rainfall has decreased by around 30 percent.
–go down: The percentage of fat in our diets has gone down.
–fall: The number of tigers in the wild has fallen to just over 10,000.
–drop: At night, the temperature drops to minus 20 degrees.
–decline: decline is used about numbers or amounts, and also about the level or standard of something:
In rural areas, the standard of living continued to decline.
–respect / look up to
look up to: The children need someone they can look up to.
–think highly of: Most of the students and staff think very highly of Dr. Smith.
–think highly of
have a high opinion of
have a high opinion of
highly regarded/respected: a highly respected surgeon
be an admirer of
–sophisticated / high-tech (equipment) / state-of-the-art (technology)
SURPRISING (Avoid using “colourful” vocabulary in formal writing!)
–amazing / unbelievable / incredible / astonishing / staggering
–come as a surprise / come as a shock / amaze / astonish
SURPRISED (Avoid using “colourful” vocabulary in formal writing!)
–amazed / astonished / speechless / be taken aback (He was taken aback by the news)
EXCITING (Avoid using “colourful” vocabulary in formal writing!)
–thrilling / gripping / exhilarating / action-packed
–dull / tedious / monotonous / uninspiring
BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE (Avoid using “colourful” vocabulary in formal writing!)
–attractive / good-looking / gorgeous / striking / stunning
BEAUTIFUL PLACES (Avoid using “colourful” vocabulary in formal writing!)
–breathtaking / stunning / awe-inspiring / striking / spectacular
–spotless: very clean
UGLY PLACES / PEOPLE (Avoid using “colourful” vocabulary in formal writing!)
–unattractive / unpleasant / unsightly / hideous (=extremely ugly)
–filthy: very dirty
IN BAD CONDITION (PLACES)
-in bad condition / dilapidated / run-down
–latest / brand-new / innovative (idea or system)
–old-fashioned / outdated / obsolete
–absolutely / extremely / highly / incredibly / remarkably
GOOD PERFORMANCE / PIECE OF WORK
–excellent / outstanding / impressive / exceptional
GOOD FOR A PARTICULAR JOB, PURPOSE, ETC
–suitable / right / proper / appropriate / be suited to
WRONG INFORMATION / NUMBERS
–incorrect / inaccurate / misleading
NOT REASONABLE / NECESSARY
–unjustified / unreasonable / without good reason
–unwind / wind down: Set in spectacular countryside, the Shiga Hotel is the perfect place to unwind.
–make someone feel at ease
–relaxed / feel at ease / laid-back (not easily worried or annoyed) /
–tense / uneasy / anxious / be under stress
–facilities: The facilities at the hotel were excellent — tennis courts, swimming pool, several bars and a good
–amenities: things such as shops, parks, or restaurants that make living or working in a place more pleasant
I prefer this part of the city because there are plenty of good amenities.
–a great deal / far / much + comparative (cheaper / more economical than)
–a bit / slightly / barely + comparative (cheaper / more economical than)
–by far / easily the + superlative (This is easily the best solution we can think of)
VERY MUCH / NOT VERY MUCH
–dramatically / significantly / slightly
–As well (as) / in addition to: Over 600 people will lose their jobs, in addition to the 400 people who left
the company last year.
–In addition: A fifth of the world’s population lives on less than $1 a day. In addition, over 100 million
children are living on the streets.
–Furthermore / Moreover: used at the beginning of a sentence when adding an important fact that is
connected with what you have just said: The drug has strong side effects. Furthermore, it can be
–as long as / on condition that / provided that
–alternatively: You can go up into the mountains. Alternatively, you can stroll around one of Switzerland’s
delightful cities where the old mixes with the new.
–on THE one hand … on the other (hand)
–As / since: As it was a hot day, they decided to leave all the windows open. Since it is difficult to predict
how the climate will change, it is not possible to say which countries will suffer the most.
–due to/owing to + NOUN
The delay was due to a problem with the ship’s engines.
–due to/owing to + THE FACT THAT + subject + verb
The men did most of the work in the fields. This was partly due to the fact that the men were stronger.
–While / whereas / by contrast
–However:However is usually used in the middle of a sentence, separated from the rest of the sentence by
commas: Jack and his family managed to escape before the soldiers arrived. Other families in the village,
however, were less lucky. Or it comes at the beginning of a sentence: He began his academic career as a
mathematician. However, his main achievements were in the field of nuclear physics.
–Nevertheless: Nevertheless is usually used at the beginning of a sentence, or at the end.
–in spite of/despite + NOUN
Despite his lack of formal education, he became one of the world’s leading mathematicians.
–in spite of/despite + verb + ING
This was a dinosaur that weighed only 10 tons, in spite of being some 28 metres long.
–in spite of/despite + THE FACT THAT + subject + verb
Many people are worried that cellphones may be dangerous to health, despite the fact that most of the
research suggests that there is little risk.
Back in the late 90s, in the process of reading for my MA dissertation, I put together a collection of hundreds of sentence frames that I felt could help me with my academic writing later on. And they did. Immensely. After the course was over, I stacked my sentences away, but kept wondering if I could ever put them to good use and perhaps help other MA / PhD students.
So here are 70 sentences extracted and adapted for from the original compilation, which ran for almost 10 pages. This list is organized around keywords.
Before you start:
1. Pay close attention to the words in bold, which are often used in conjunction with the main word.
2. [ ] means “insert a suitable word here”, while ( ) means “this word is optional.”
3. Keep in mind that, within each group, some examples are slightly more formal / less frequent than others.
a. Along similar lines, [X] argues that ___.
b. There seems to be no compelling reason to argue that ___.
c. As a rebuttal to this point, it could be argued that ___.
d. There are [three] main arguments that can be advanced to support ___.
e. The underlying argument in favor of / against [X] is that ___.
f. [X]’s argument in favor of / against [Y] runs as follows: ___.
a. In this [paper], I put forward the claim that ___.
b. [X] develops the claim that ___.
c. There is ample / growing support for the claim that ___.
d. [X]’s findings lend support to the claim that ___.
e. Taking a middle-ground position, [X] claims that ___.
a. The data gathered in the [pilot study] suggest that ___.
b. The data appears to suggest that ___.
c. The data yielded by this [study] provide strong / convincing evidence that ___.
d. A closer look at thedata indicates that ___.
e. The data generated by [X] are reported in [table 1].
f. The aim of this [section] is to generalize beyond the data and ___.
a. [X] has encourageddebate on ___.
b. There has been an inconclusive debate about whether ___.
c. The question of whether ___ has caused much debate in [our profession] [over the years].
d. (Much of) the current debate revolves around ___.
a. In this section / chapter, the discussion will point to ___.
b. The foregoing discussion implies that ___.
c. For the sake of discussion, I would like to argue that ___.
d. In this study, the question under discussion is ___.
e. In this paper, the discussion centers on ___.
f. [X] lies at the heart of the discussion on ___.
a. The availableevidence seems to suggest that ___ / point to ___.
b. On the basis of the evidence currently available, it seems fair to suggest that ___.
c. There is overwhelming evidence for the notion that ___.
d. Further evidence supporting / against [X] may lie in the findings of [Y], who ___.
e. These results provide confirmatory evidence that ___.
a. I will now summarize the ground covered in this [chapter] by ___.
b. On logical grounds, there is no compelling reason to argue that ___.
c. [X] takes a middle-ground position on [Y] and argues that ___.
d. On these grounds, we can argue that ___.
e. [X]’s views are grounded on the assumption that ___.
a. This study is an attempt to address the issue of ___.
b. In the present study, the issue under scrutiny is ___.
c. The issue of whether ___ is clouded by the fact that ___.
d. To portray the issue in [X]’s terms, ___.
e. Given the centrality of this issue to [my claim], I will now ___.
f. This [chapter] is concerned with the issue of [how/whether/what] ___.
a. [X] is prominent in the literature on [Y].
b. There is a rapidly growing literature on [X], which indicates that ___.
c. The literature shows no consensus on [X], which means that ___.
d. The (current) literature on [X] abounds with examples of ___.
a. The main theoretical premise behind [X] is that ___.
b. [X] and [Y] share an important premise: ___.
c. [X] is premised on the assumption that ___.
d. The basic premises of [X]’s theory / argument are ___.
e. The arguments against [X]’s premise rest on [four] assumptions: ___.
a.This study draws on research conducted by ___.
b. Although there has been relatively little research on / into [X], ___.
c. In the last [X] years, [educational] research has provided ample support for the assertion that ___.
d. Current research appears / seems to validate the view that ___.
e. Research on / into ___ does not support the view that ___.
f. Further researchin this area may include ___ and ___.
g. Evidence for [X] is borne out by research that shows ___.
h. There is insufficient research on / into ___ to draw any firm conclusions about / on ___.
a. The consensus view seems to be that ___.
b. [X] propounds the view that ___.
c. Current research (does not) appear(s) to validate such a view.
d. There have been dissenters to the view that ___.
e. The answer to [X] / The difference between [X] and [Y] is not as clear-cut as popular views might suggest.
f. The view that _____ is in line with [common sense].
g. I am not alone in my view that ___.
h. [X] puts forward the view that ___.
i. [X]’s views rest on the assumption that ___.
If you found this list useful, check out The Only Academic Phrasebook You’ll Ever Need, which contains 600 sentences, as well as grammar and vocabulary tips. E-book and paperback available on Amazon.