Let’s face it: Writing an essay isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. Even if you’re an expert on a topic, it can be hard to sound like an expert if you’re an English learner who may not have all the right vocabulary to express yourself.
Experienced essay writers know that there are certain good essay words and phrases that will help you organize your ideas and get your point across clearly and effectively. These words act as signposts in your essay, helping the reader see when you’re introducing a new idea, supporting a point, and more.
Below, we go through some words to use in an essay to make it crystal clear and easy to follow.
- The purpose/main objective of this essay
- The central idea of this essay
- The key issues I will discuss
- In other words
- That is to say
- To put it another way
- Furthermore/what’s more
- Not only . . . but also
- On the other hand
- In brief
- In conclusion
1. The purpose/main objective of this essay
When to use it: This phrase is a clear statement of exactly why you’re writing this essay (what your goal is) and what the reader can expect you to discuss.
Example: “The purpose of this essay is to prove that those living near city centers have several advantages over those in rural areas.”
2. The central idea of this essay
When to use it: You can use this to introduce the main point of your essay—exactly what you want to get across to the reader.
Example: “The central idea of this essay is that a capitalist society isn’t as ideal as we once thought it was.”
3. The key issues I will discuss
When to use it: Draw attention to the individual points that you will focus on in your essay.
Example: “The key issues I will discuss are: citizens’ lack of access to affordable healthcare, the need for more government funding and the misinformation around the idea of a universal healthcare system.”
4. In other words
When to use it: If you want to clarify a statement to ensure your readers will understand, you can use this phrase.
Example: “Some immigrants feel a deep sense of isolation when they come to a new country. In other words, they have difficulty making friends and feeling accepted in a new community.”
5. That is to say
When to use it: Use this phrase to explain and elaborate on a point.
Example: “It’s important to eat a balanced diet every day. That is to say, your diet should include foods from all of the food groups.”
6. To put it another way
When to use it: Much like “In other words,” this phrase is used to restate a point using different words to ensure that the reader understands.
Example: “A growing number of young adults are prioritizing career over family. To put it another way, money and success are in and children are out.”
To support your points
7. Furthermore/what’s more
When to use it: These two transition terms basically mean “in addition.” Use them when you’d like to add another detail or argument to support what you want to say.
Example: “Smoking is bad for your health and the health of those around you. Furthermore, cigarette butts are the most littered items on earth.”
When to use it: You can use this word to add a supporting detail that’s related (similar) to the point you just made.
Example: “Neither of the candidates has mentioned plans to expand the transportation system. Similarly, there has been no discussion about improving the current system.”
9. Not only . . . but also
When to use it: Using this phrasing adds emphasis when you’re talking about two ideas that are connected.
Example: “Not only is dancing great exercise but it can also help you maintain your cognitive abilities as you age.”
To contrast ideas
When to use it: This is more or less just a fancy way of saying “but”— you can use it in much the same way.
Example: “Some people think it’s too late to save the planet. However, others feel that we can still reverse climate change.”
11. On the other hand
When to use it: This is a term that you can use to present the other side of an argument.
Example: “It’s advisable to find a job that pays a good salary. On the other hand, it should be something you find meaningful or enjoyable.”
To conclude your essay
12. In brief
When to use it: You use this term when you want to summarize something without many details — in other words, briefly.
Example: “In brief, there are too many cars on the road and we need a better solution.”
13. In conclusion
When to use it: As you might have guessed, you use this phrase when you’re going to make a statement that concludes, or ends, your essay.
Example: “In conclusion, traveling is one of the best ways to meet new people, learn about other cultures and have new experiences.”
Know the right words to use in an essay
If you feel that something is missing from your papers, you might not be using the best words and phrases for essays. The next time you sit down to write, try including some of the fancy words for essays we’ve listed above. Take your essay from good to great!
Andrea is a Canadian freelance writer and editor specializing in English, e-learning, EdTech, and SaaS. She has a background as an ESL teacher in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. In her free time, Andrea loves hanging out with her husband and children, creating recipes in the kitchen, and reading fiction. She also loves camping and jumping into lakes whenever possible. Learn more about Andrea on LinkedIn or check out her website.