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Essay Express

This is a guest post by Sam Pealing. Make sure to visit his website EnglishForStudy.com for more academic English help!

I admire international students. Seriously. If you’re a non-native English speaker doing a degree or doctorate in English, then I take my hat off to you.

I get a lot of questions about writing essays, and I’ve taught hundreds of students how to write effective essays (which get good grades). One of the most common mistakes that I see is a lack of opinion.

Most of the time, students describe a situation, but they don’t give their opinion or stance. This can really damage your grade because lecturers are always looking for ‘critical thinking’. If you don’t give your opinion in your essays, your lecturers can’t see your critical thinking.

To put it simply: If you don’t put your opinion or stance in an essay, then you’ll probably lose marks.

In this article, you’ll learn 10 effective phrases that you can use to give your opinion in your essay. I’ve also created a free lesson pack which will help you to practice the phrases in this article. CLICK HERE to download it.

Introducing the Phrases

If you’re looking for a quick fix for your essay, these phrases should help you to start putting your own opinions in your essays.

But, before you rush over to your essays to start putting these phrases in, there’s something you need to know.

If you’re writing an academic essay, you will need to support your opinions with strong evidence. This is especially true if you are using some of the stronger phrases.

This evidence can be a journal article, a lecture, a textbook, or something else which is a trustworthy source of information.

In a more informal essay, like one in an IELTS or TOEFL language test, you don’t need to support your answers with strong evidence. Your experiences or opinions will be enough.

Quick note: I know! You’re ready to see the phrases.

This won’t take long and it’s really important.

1. For these phrases to be really effective, you’ll need to review your grammar. Shayna has some great videos on her Espresso English Youtube channel.

I recommend these:

2. If you want to know the structure of a good essay paragraph, check my post here.

Informal English Phrases

These phrases are suitable for language tests such as TOEFL or IELTS. In an academic essay, these phrases will probably be too informal because they are too personal.

“In my opinion, + [your sentence]”

  • In my opinion, a good education is more important than a good car.

“I believe that + [your sentence]”

  • I believe that schools should encourage students to walk or cycle to school rather than drive.

“In my mind, + [your sentence]”

  • In my mind, no-one should have to pay for medical care.”

More Formal Academic Phrases With ‘That’

These phrases are more suitable for academic essays. If you are unsure whether you should use an informal phrase or an academic phrase, use an academic one. If you think your writing might be informal, read this post to learn more.

The patterns here are quite straightforward. Just add your sentence after ‘that’.

“It would seem that + [your sentence]”

Use this when you support your opinion with evidence.

  • It would seem that children learn best when they are feeling comfortable.”

“It could be argued that + [your sentence]”

Use this when you want to challenge an existing opinion.

  • It could be argued that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks in this situation.”

“This suggests that + [your sentence]”

Use this when you don’t want to fully commit to an opinion. You’re giving yourself some distance.

  • The evidence suggests that people who speak more than one language have more job opportunities.”

“This proves that + [your sentence]”

Use this when you are confident with your opinion. This phrase is quite strong*

  • This proves that the best way to lose weight is through a controlled diet and a good exercise program.”

“This supports the idea that + [your sentence]”

Use this one when you are supporting an opinion that you have already made.

  • This new research supports the idea that successful English learners look for opportunities to use English.”

Other Ways to Express Opinion

“Although [idea you disagree with], [idea you agree with]”

Use this when you want make your opinion seem balanced.

  • Although reports suggest that cigarettes could help people to lose weight, there are too many serious health problems associated with smoking.”

Note: The ‘although’ pattern is very effective because it shows two sides of the argument. In the example, I support the idea that smoking is bad for your health –BUT- I recognise that it could have some benefits.

Structure your ‘although’ sentence like this: Although, [weaker argument you disagree with], [stronger argument you agree with].

Using Adverbs, Adjectives and Nouns

You can use adjectives to show your opinion.

  • “This research was poorly conducted with a lack of control.”

The adjective and nouns in the example are negative. You can get some good ideas from this video on Extreme Adjectives. Note: try not to use any emotional adjectives.

Make Your Own Phrases!

Of course, these phrases aren’t the only ones that you can use! You can find more –or– you can create your own by combining different patterns.

Here’s an example of #7, #9 and #10 used together.

“Although it is difficult for older adults to learn a second language, an important study by Smith (2014) proved that the elderly can successfully learn new languages.”

What Should You Do Now?

So now you should have a better idea of how to include more opinions in your essays. But that’s not all; there are probably some new words here that you don’t know.

So here’s what you should do:

  1. Choose three of the opinion expressions and phrases that you want to try.
  2. Practice writing sentences using them (if you don’t have a topic, try this: should students do homework? You can see examples of this in the lesson pack)
  3. Get the Lesson Pack for this lesson (which contains the vocabulary and the phrases from this lesson) CLICK HERE to download it.

 

About Sam Pealing

Sam Pealing is an English language coach who specialises in two important areas: 1. helping you to get great grades at university, and 2. helping you to become an effective and confident English user. If you’re feeling frustrated or confused with English, Sam has created the perfect email course for you! You can join his course here –or- you can read more by him on English For Study.

Your conclusion paragraph should begin with a smooth transition from the body of your essay. The first sentence of your paragraph should include clear transition words to signal to your reader that you are beginning to wrap up your essay. Different transition words can have different effects, so be sure to choose a transition word or phrase that clearly communicates that you are closing your essay. Some common examples of conclusion transition words and phrases include:

  • In conclusion,
  • To conclude,
  • Finally,
  • To sum up,
  • As previously stated.

Once you have signalled that you are drawing your essay to a close, you can then restate the primary points of your essay. Depending on the length of your essay, this may be done in a single sentence, or it may require a few sentences. Be concise and clear; you should be able to summarise each main point in a simple phrase that avoids restating each detail and piece of evidence related to the point. Also simply list off the point as a reminder to your audience about what they’ve just read.

Restate your main points

Finally, if you are writing an argumentative essay, you’ll want to clearly restate your main argument in order to leave readers with one final appeal. If you have provided enough evidence along the way, this restatement should make readers feel as if you’ve persuaded them fully.

Call to action

For some expository and argumentative essays, it’s appropriate to end with a call to action as your last sentence. For example, if you’re writing an informative essay about the sea creatures that live in the very deepest parts of the ocean, you may close with a sentence like this: “It’s clear that today’s scientists should continue to observe and document these mysterious creatures, so we may learn more about the life at the bottom of the ocean.” A call to action like this can make your reader feel inspired and informed after reading your essay.

What to avoid

When writing a strong conclusion paragraph, you want to keep it simple. Use a clear transition word or phrase, restate your main points and arguments, and possibly finish with a call to action. Be sure to avoid the following common mistakes:

  • New information. Your conclusion is not the place to introduce anything new. Simply restate and summarise the main points clearly.
  • Personal opinion. Unless you are writing an opinion piece that includes several “I” statements throughout, avoid ending your essay with a sudden “I think…” or “I feel…” If you haven’t been including your personal opinion throughout the essay, then you shouldn’t insert your opinion into the conclusion.
  • Lots of detail. When you restate your main points, don’t worry about restating all the small details that make up your description or evidence. The place for details is in your body paragraphs. The conclusion is simply for summary and a possible call for action or next steps.
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