How to Use Suitable Words in an Academic Essay

While writing an academic essay, you’ve to be extremely careful about your selection of words. For instance, you would not include shorter forms or contractions as they indicate casualness and academic writing roll in a formal framework.

Moreover, academic essays are believed to be coherent and uncomplicated so you should ascertain that your words are accurate and factual and that your writing is to the point. This article provides recommendations on how to select suitable words for your essay.


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Prerequisites of an Academic Essay

The four essentials of an academic essay are:

  • Avoid casual/informal use of language
  • Use suitable transitions
  • Avoid repetition
  • Look out for commonly misused words and phrases

Selecting words that are suitable for your writing can persuade the audience that your writing is genuine and meaningful. If your choice of words is vague or unclear, your readers will likely to be puzzled by your content or might even don’t take your work seriously.

  1. Make Use of Formal Language

Formal informal

Many words which we commonly use in our normal conversation are not suitable for use in academic writing. These involve casual and informal words which we usually use in spoken English only.

For example

  • Use ‘do not’ instead of ‘don’t’
  • Use ‘as soon as possible’ instead of ‘ASAP’
  • Use ‘unattractive’ instead of ‘busted’
  • Use ‘the best’ instead of ‘the cream of the crop’

Select Powerful Verbs

Practically, academic writers favor powerful verbs to phrasal verbs. (Phrasal verbs are a combination of verbs and prepositions and are very common in spoken/informal use of language).

Suggestions include:

  • Use ‘produced’ instead of ‘churned out’
  • Use ‘assembled’ instead of ‘put together’
  • Use ‘eliminate’ instead of ‘wipe out’
  • Use ‘hide’ instead of ‘cover up’
  • Use ‘effect’ instead of ‘bring about’


2. Use Suitable Transitions

IELTS transitions

The role of suitable transitions while writing an academic essay is unavoidable. They help to form an impression of consistency and provide a guidebook for the reader to pursue the author’s beliefs. Selecting a suitable transition that makes the convincing relation will guarantee that the reader comprehends the content the similar way the writer had expected.

3. Avoid Repetition

improve your writing eliminate redundancy


Compactness is also a sign of effective academic writing. To develop an impressive essay, you should know how to write concisely. Instead of augmenting the word count of your content or develop complicated expressions, focus on getting your message across adequately.

Critically assess your content to determine whether what you’ve compiled is crucial to the message you expect to convey.

Examples include:

  • Use ‘comprise’ instead of ‘comprise of’
  • Use ‘stress’ instead of ‘stress upon’
  • Use ‘discuss’ instead of ‘discuss about’
  • Use ‘request’ instead of ‘request for’
  • Use ‘emphasize’ instead of ‘emphasize on’
  • Use ‘despite’ instead of ‘despite of’

4. Watch Out for Commonly Confused Words and Phrases

Commonly confused words and used mistakes

The English language has many commonly confused terms. These words look and sound alike, but have entirely different meanings.

At times it becomes difficult for the writer to distinguish between these confused words. Better would be to avoid them so as to ensure perfection. However, if you still wish to include them in your content, make sure that you use them correctly and at the right places.

Examples include:

  • Accept VS ExceptAccept (verb) means ‘to receive’.
    Example:  Give her some time to accept the idea.Except (conjunction) means ‘apart from’.
    Example: She packed everything except the sink.


  • Affect VS EffectAffect (verb) means ‘influence’.
    Example: The cat’s death affected its keepers.Effect (noun) means ‘outcome’ or ‘result’.
    Example: The overall effect was amazing.


  • A Lot VS AllotA lot (noun) means ‘many’.
    Example: I have a lot of friends.Allot (verb) means ‘distribute/assign’
    Example – He has been allotted fifteen minutes to finish his speech.


  • Cash VS CacheCash (noun) means ‘money’.
    Example: I need cash to make a payment.Cache (noun) means ‘a secure location to store items’.
    Example: The archeologist wanted to discover the former king’s cache of diamonds.


Don’t forget to examine that you avoid informal/casual language or tone. Make sure to write concisely with no repetition. Academic writing is all about facts, so also ensure you make use of the most legitimate sources to back your arguments. Also, ascertain that your transitions make a smooth connection and boost the consistency of the text.

Moreover, you may need to face other confusions and ambiguities. We would suggest you invest in a good dictionary that can help you learn the correct usage of different words. In addition to that, you can also take guidance from online material (including essays, articles, etc.) to see the appropriate use of words in published work. Last but not the least; try to stick to the basics, instead of complicating things by including more difficult words and phrases into your content. Remember, ‘simple and sweet’ is what that makes all the difference in your writing.

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