Key Expressions for Boosting Score in IELTS Writing Task 2By learning to use common phrases and set expressions, you can add variety and interest to your writing. You will also be able to write more quickly and effectively during exams, when time is limited.
Useful Phrase 1 – best for introductions“This essay will analyse this issue using the examples from…” “to demonstrate points and support arguments.” You will need to supply the examples in accordance with your particular topic. For instance: “This essay will analyse this issue using the examples from wartime countries and conflict zones to demonstrate points and support arguments.” and “This essay will analyse this issue using the examples from Canada, Australia and Rwanda to demonstrate points and support arguments.” It is undeniable that ___(insert problem from question)___ is one of the most challenging issues in the western world.
Useful Phrase 2 – best for body paragraphs (opinions)2.) When injecting an opposing thought, instead of using only “However,” you can use: “However, it should not be forgotten (that)…” and add the opposing point.
Useful Phrase 3 – best for body paragraphs (examples)Cite examples from research or studies made, using the phrase, “For example, a recent study by _________ showed…” There are also studies being performed on a global level to discover the source of these important problems. One solution proposed by the _(insert global organisation)___ is to_________. For instance: For example, a recent study by the WTO (or U.K. government) showed…” then supply the details of the findings.
Useful Phrase 4 – best for body paragraphsIt is fairly easy to comprehend the arguments as to why this proposal has been made. There would be at least two facets to this proposal. There is also, however, a strong argument not to implement this proposal. The issue of __X__ in western / African countries has grown in importance over the past few decades. The issue of __X__ in most continents has fallen in importance over the past few years.
Useful Phrase 5 – best for supporting sentencesInstead of saying “There is proof that…” you can say, instead: “There is ample evidence to suggest that…” For instance: “There is ample evidence to suggest that scientists will promptly discover…” and “There is ample evidence to suggest that local governments will be implementing …”
Useful Phrase 6 – best for supporting sentencesGive your findings a supportive introduction using the phrase: “Numerous studies have consistently found that …” then provide your conclusion, for instance: Numerous studies have consistently found that children from economically advancedcountries…” and “Numerous studies have consistently found that students who learn 3 languages have areduced chance of contracting Alzheimer’s.”
Useful Phrase 7 – best for strengthening an argument by being specificInstead of generalising, enumerate or cite samples. For instance: Replace “Recent electronic gadgets have…” with “Electronic gadgets such as the smartphone, the laptop, and the 3D printer have drastically increased worker productivity.” Replace “Serious diseases are a recurring matter…” with “Serious diseases such as Malaria,Ebola and Dengue Fever bring about a considerable amount of expenses.”
Useful Phrase 8 – to change the personHowever, in my view this solution is rather controversial and other solutions need to be found. However, from a general viewpoint this solution is rather impractical and other solutions need to be found. These may be little additions of 3-9 words per phrase but many little phrases go a long way toward a 250 word goal.
Warning! When using these useful phrases for IELTS writing task two..
- Make sure you have adapted them to your specific essay topic
- To improve your grammatical range and accuracy experiment with these same structures but using different verbs and nouns.
- You can find more structures by reading academic material and copying phrases you think you could adapt in your essays.
An example of an essay mapTo show you what I mean, take a look at this outline of an essay. It contains 125 words: that is half of all the words you need for an IELTS essay.
One of the most controversial issues today relates to . ……………. In this essay, I am going to examine this question from both points of view On one side of the argument there are people who argue that the benefits of considerably outweigh its disadvantages. The main reason for believing this is that …………………. It is also possible to say that …….One good illustration of this is …………. On the other hand, it is also possible to make the opposing case. It is often argued that in fact ……….. People often have this opinion because …………… A second point is that ………..A particularly good example here is………….. As we have seen, there are no easy answers to this question. On balance, however, I tend to believe that …
General explainingLet’s start by looking at language for general explanations of complex points.
1. In order toUsage: “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 wordsUsage: 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 wayUsage: 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 sayUsage: “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 endUsage: 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.”
Adding additional information to support a pointStudents 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. MoreoverUsage: 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. FurthermoreUsage: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 moreUsage: 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. LikewiseUsage: 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. SimilarlyUsage: 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 rememberUsage: 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 asUsage: 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 alsoUsage: 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 withUsage: 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 ofUsage: “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.”
Words and phrases for demonstrating contrastWhen 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. HoweverUsage: 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 handUsage: 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 thatUsage: 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 comparisonUsage: 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 againUsage: 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 saidUsage: 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. YetUsage: 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 reservationsSometimes, 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 thisUsage: 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 mindUsage: 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 thatUsage: 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 ofUsage: 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. NonethelessUsage: This is similar to “despite this”. Example: “The study had its limitations, but it was nonetheless groundbreaking for its day.”
29. NeverthelessUsage: This is the same as “nonetheless”. Example: “The study was flawed, but it was important nevertheless.”
30. NotwithstandingUsage: 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 examplesGood 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 instanceExample: “Some birds migrate to avoid harsher winter climates. Swallows, for instance, leave the UK in early winter and fly south…”
32. To give an illustrationExample: “To give an illustration of what I mean, let’s look at the case of…”
Signifying importanceWhen you want to demonstrate that a point is particularly important, there are several ways of highlighting it as such.
33. SignificantlyUsage: 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. NotablyUsage: 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. ImportantlyUsage: 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.”
SummarisingYou’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. Here are some words and phrases to help you.
36. In conclusionUsage: 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 allUsage: 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. PersuasiveUsage: 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. CompellingUsage: Use in the same way as “persuasive” above. Example: “The most compelling argument is presented by Scholar A.”
40. All things consideredUsage: This means “taking everything into account”. Example: “All things considered, it seems reasonable to assume that…” 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!