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15 Words and Phrases That Will Make Your Essay Sound Smarter

As composing any piece of writing, it’s essential to use appropriate vocabulary to make your essay stand out. Plain language sounds boring and unappealing, so it’s really important to know how to write effective papers. Not only do some words can help you persuade the reader, grab their attention, but they can also make you sound smarter.

“It’s always the language, words and phrases that you use in your writing that make your paper sound smart. Your paper can be well-researched and insightful, but it won’t stand out if it’s written in plain, boring language,” says Adam Simon, a college student and contributor to LegitWritingServices essay writing service review and education blog.

So enjoy our list of 15 words and phrases that will be of great help to make you paper sound smarter. 

In other words

When to Use: To paraphrase something in a simpler manner, thus making it easier to understand;

Exemplary Sentence: Writing an essay isn’t as black as it’s painted. In other words , once you learn the general tips, all is left is the practice.

That is to say

When to Use: To provide additional explanation to your previous point, or to add information to sound more accurate;

Exemplary Sentence: To start writing an essay one needs to do research. That is to say , one should search for materials, read them, examine and take notes.

To that end

When to Use: A synonymous phrase meaning ‘in order to’ or ‘so’;

Exemplary Sentence: He wanted to get straight A’s. To that end , he has been mastering his writing skills recently.

Supporting points with additional info

And, and, and. Using ‘and’ throughout your essay to add points won’t make your paper sound smarter. There are tons of awesome expressions and here are the top of them.


When to Use: To provide additional points, used at the beginning of a sentence (don’t forget a comma);

Exemplary Sentence: Furthermore , you should proofread and polish your paper before handing out the final variant.

When to Use: To add additional information, or offering some ideas that support your point of view in a similar manner;

Exemplary Sentence: Planning the writing process is vital to avoid writer’s block and craft a well-thought paper. Likewise , it is essential to write an outline, so that your essay is well-structured.

Another key thing to remember

When to Use: If you have already overused the word ‘also’, it’s high time to use its synonymous phrase ‘another key thing to remember’;

Exemplary Sentence: When writing an introduction, make sure you hook the reader’s attention and arouse their interest. Another key thing to remember is that crafting an introduction last thing is often more effective, as you have already had the perfect grasp of the chosen topic.

Not only...but also

When to Use: To present two ideas while the latter is often more surprising than the former one. Keep in mind the inversion moment as well;

Exemplary Sentence: Not only should you support your topic idea with several additional ones, but you should also provide great examples to underpin your point of view.

Coupled with

When to Use: To examine two or more arguments at a time;

Exemplary Sentence: He soon realized that choosing the topic he was passionate about, coupled with following all the academic rules and standards, was the key to getting top grades for the essay.

Expressing contrast

It’s essential to present contrasting opinions in argumentative essays, as well as in any essay if you want to develop your point of view and make it sound strong. That is why, here are some phrases to use.

When to Use: To provide a contrasting point of view;

Exemplary Sentence: Putting off your essay until the last minute isn’t the greatest idea. However , there are some students who claim that they do better when they’re pressed for time.

When to Use: To give a contrasting point; often used at the beginning of a sentence for better emphasis;

Exemplary Sentence: Purchasing essays online is regarded as cheating by the majority of people. Yet some believe there is nothing wrong in asking for a bit of assistance with their papers.

On the other hand

When to Use: Often used along with another contrasting point, for example, there are two different interpretations of the same idea ‘on the one hand’ and ‘on the other hand’;

Exemplary Sentence: Crafting an essay may seem like the worst and the most daunting task. On the other hand , once you’ve finished it, you feel satisfied and have this pleasant sense of accomplishment.

Highlighting important information

Emphasizing particular points in your essay also require some useful vocabulary.

When to Use: A synonymous expression to ‘particularly’ or ‘significantly’ to highlight peculiar information;

Exemplary Sentence: After reading this article, one can notably improve their vocabulary and make their writing sound smarter.


When to Use: Another synonym to the word ‘significantly’, suggesting a special meaning to the point;

Exemplary Sentence: Polishing her paper with high-brow vocabulary affected her grades importantly.

Providing examples

You won’t surprise you professor ‘for example’, while the following expression will boost your writing skills.

To give an illustration

When to Use: To provide an example that will best illustrate your point of view

Exemplary Sentence: To give an illustration of what I mean, let’s have a look at the final effective phrase to use.

All things considered

When to Use: In other words, ‘taking everything into account’

Exemplary Sentence: All things considered , writing a good essay may be time- and energy-consuming; it may require scrutinizing tons of academic rules and standards; it can be pressuring and scary. However, following some useful tips can ease the whole composing process. To give an illustration of what I mean, try enriching your vocabulary with these 15 words and phrases and see how smarter your paper sounds now.


If an effective essay was a building, it would have a great foundation (an introduction and a conclusion). An introduction grabs the reader’s attention and guides straight to the main body, while a conclusion has the final say that is supposed to leave an aftertaste. For this reason, it’s essential to use persuasive vocabulary when summarizing your ideas.

Bat Bing

8 Tips to Make Your Writing Sound More Formal

how to make your essay sound smarter

Get 400 words proofread and edited for free

Here at ProofreadingPal , we get a lot of requests to “elevate tone,” “create a scholarly tone,” and “increase the formality,” and even “help this sound smart.” Truthfully, we cannot make you sound “smart.” There is no substitute for good ideas, but we can (and do) help you elevate your tone and make you sound like a bona fide professional-thinking person. Here are some handy tricks that you can use yourself.

I see a surprisingly high number of formal academic/business works that include words that are better left for the water cooler or over a spirited discussion of the merits of Michael Bay movies. Some words to avoid are “totally” (use “completely” instead), “basically” (just avoid it), “impact” (mostly as a verb. You shouldn’t say “that will impact me”), “wicked” (only use this when chatting in online games), and “cool” (this word can mean just about anything. Try to choose a more precise word). In general, avoid all slang words (e.g., rad, YOLO, heaps, guv). If in doubt, see if you could imagine your professor or boss using it. If not, avoid it.

In formal writing, never use “like.” It’s probably the most commonly used feature of speech today for certain populations, but avoid it in formal writing. Compare:

Animals, like bears and tigers, are interesting. Animals, such as bears and tigers, are interesting.

See how much more formal the second sounds?

Get a free sample proofread and edit for your document. Two professional proofreaders will proofread and edit your document.

Contractions such as “can’t,” “didn’t,” and “I’m” are purely a product of verbal speech. We speak in contractions, but the convention is that, for formal, non-fiction writing, we shouldn’t write in them. When writing a formal business letter or an academic essay, forego contractions. It’s easy to use the Word FIND function to seek them out and destroy them.


  Common Formality Mistakes

 This guide wouldn’t be complete without a look at some common practices that people use to make their writing more formal that don’t work. Here are a few practices we end up having to correct time and time again.

5. Don’t use passive voice . Passive voice is wordy, but being formal has nothing to do with wordiness.

In all writing, wherever possible, brevity is the soul of wit. (Even I can’t avoid clichés, but at least that’s Shakespeare.) That means, always keep your prose as simple as possible . You may think, “The item that we are discussing could be the solution we are looking for to solve our problem,” sounds better because it’s long, but it’ll just annoy your reader. “That is the solution to our problem,” is better.

Some professors still insist their students use third person to make their writing sound more formal, but (and always check with your professor first) style guides such as APA (and us) recommend you use first or second person to prevent passive voice and ambiguous language. Take: “The researcher applied a qualitative approach to the study” for example. Who is the researcher? You or someone else? This is ambiguous. It’s better to say, “I will take a qualitative approach to the study,” and this doesn’t sound any less formal.

Happy writing, and good luck. Proofreading Services Commercial

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Grammar Guide

14 Grammar Tips to Make Your Writing Sound Smart

Zara Altair

Zara Altair

Author and Professional Semantic Writer

woman adjusting tortoiseshell glasses

Grammar Matters

Good grammar clarifies, 14 quick grammar tips, begin with good grammar.

Have you ever read a blog article or book with information you wanted to know, and it was almost impossible to read because the writer wanted to impress you with their intelligence?

That article or book was about them, not the subject matter. The author was trying to impress you with how smart they are. They used long words, technical terms without explanation, or worse, yet, words they made up so you could be an “insider.” They wrote long, complicated sentences. It wasn’t an informative read, and you probably didn’t finish it.

Don’t be that writer.

If you want to sound smart in your writing, be clear with your audience. Clarity is key to helping readers understand your text. Good grammar makes your sentences easy to understand. No matter how sophisticated your idea is, present it with clarity.

When you want to sound smart, using good grammar is important . Like common sense, grammar helps your reader understand without being baffled. When each sentence makes sense, it’s easy for your reader to understand your meaning.

From word choice to punctuation to citations, show your smarts by writing it right.

Tip 1: Alumnus

If you went to school but didn’t study Latin, referring to your fellow graduates can be tricky. You need to define whether they are masculine or feminine, and numbers count. One guy is an alumnus . One gal is an alumna . Many woman graduates are alumnae. And many men graduates are alumni . Following the Latin, men and women, all of them, are also alumni .

Tip 2: Affect and Effect

Affect is usually a verb that denotes making a change. Music affects my mood.

Effect is usually a noun naming the change. Newton’s third law of motion teaches that every action results in an equal and opposite effect.

But it’s not that simple. Affect also serves as a noun describing a person’s demeanor. Joe’s affect brightened after two cups of coffee.

And effect serves as a verb to make a change. My homeowner association voted to effect changes to parking access.

Tip 3: Compliment and Complement

The noun compliment denotes an act of giving praise. As a verb, compliment represents the act of giving praise: Jake complimented Agnes on her superb use of grammar.

As a noun or verb, complement implies completion:

Tip 4: Example and Reference: e.g. or i.e.

These two abbreviations stand for Latin phrases. Use e.g. when referring to examples. The abbreviation represents the Latin exempli gratia , which means for example . Follow it with examples illustrating the previous statement: Various dog breeds are known for hip problems, especially large dogs, e.g. bulldogs, mastiffs, and retrievers.

When you want to restate a phrase, i.e. is Latin for that is , id est . Use it to restate or clarify: If your foundation has white marks, you may be in danger of structure settlement, i.e. a water-damaged foundation.

Tip 5: Further and Farther

These two are sometimes interchangeable, and sometimes your ear will guide your usage. There’s a grammatical adage to use farther for physical distance and further for figurative distance.

Modern speech prefers further as a verb. She took no prisoners with her cohorts to further her career. And it is the choice when used as an adverb to mean additionally. Further, I’d like to address the current invoicing procedures. As an adverb, further is also the modern choice. Since there were no further complaints, the detectives pursued their current criminal cases.

typed writing marked up with a red pen

Tip 6: Quotation Marks or Italics for Titles

When you want to appear smarter, citing references is probably one step to verify your proposition. Italics and quotation marks set off your reference in a sentence, so your reader understands you are referring to a document. Use italics for longer works:

Use quotation marks to set off:

And, sometimes you use neither:

Tip 7: Abbreviations

Don’t make your readers guess the meaning of an abbreviation. First, introduce what the abbreviation stands for before using it repeatedly in your text. You’ll help your reader understand the context. For example, Department of Aging or dead on arrival can both be abbreviated as DOA .

Your first use should include the entire phrase followed by the abbreviation or acronym: Home inspectors follow the Standard of Practice outlined by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

ProWritingAid’s Acronym Report will tell you if you haven’t introduced an acronym, if you’ve introduced it multiple times, or if you’ve punctuated it in several different ways.

prowritingaid's acronym report

Tip 8: Dashes and Hyphens

Use hyphens to join words together: broken-hearted , four-fifths , brother-in-law .

A dash, also called an em-dash or m-dash, separates parts of a sentence. Use the dash to set off a clause in a sentence when the parts of the sentence that precede and follow the clause make sense without the “extra” clause.

If I told him once, I told him a thousand times—he should have known by now—to put the dirty clothes in the laundry hamper.

And you can use the dash in place of a colon, especially for emphasis.

His living room was filled with evidence of his fitness craze—barbells, an exercise bike, and a rowing machine.

Tip 9: Use Antecedents

Antecedents are a word, phrase, clause, or sentence to which another word (especially a following relative pronoun) refers. When you use pronouns like it , this , and that or even he , she , or they , you need a reference noun before them. Otherwise, your reader may wonder which report or who she is. Clear it up before you use the pronoun.

According to the K-lytics report on Christmas mysteries, authors heavily advertise in order to make money on low-priced books. This report highlights the seasonal popularity of those mysteries.

Tip 10: Who and Whom

Who is doing what to whom? That question sums it up.

Who is the subject in the sentence, the one that takes action. Whom is the object of the sentence, the one who receives the action.

Tip 11: No One Is Ever That

As a corollary, do not use that to refer to a person. They are not a thing. Use who or whom . It’s not the first man that walked on the moon . It’s the first man who walked on the moon . Enough said.

Tip 12: The Colon

A colon is used two ways: to make lists and to tell what you mean. When you use a colon, do not capitalize the first word after the colon.

You can use a colon to add a list to a sentence.

Novelists add the five senses to bring a scene to life: taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing.

Colons can also be used to separate independent clauses when the second clause/sentence illustrates, explains, paraphrases, or expands on the first.

Jim realized his worst fear was coming true: his family would be homeless when they were evicted tomorrow.

Finally, you can use a colon to follow a salutation in a business or formal letter.

To the Tri-Valley Committee Chairman:

A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.


Tip 13: The Semicolon

Use a semicolon to separate two ideas (independent clauses) that are closely related.

Jane thought May was inviting her to a girls night in; it turned out, Mary was planning a surprise birthday party.

Also, use semicolons in a list when the list items contain commas.

Dave’s best high school buddies now lived far away: Tempe, Arizona; Union, New Jersey; Galveston, Texas; and Seattle, Washington.

Tip 14: Commas

Commas are the most frequently used, and misused, punctuation mark. When in doubt, look up your use. But here are four crucial guidelines to tame your comma use.

Use commas to separate items in a short list: Mary bought party favors, silly hats, and noisemakers for everyone at the surprise party.

Use a comma to separate two long independent clauses connected by a conjunction: Children labor over grammar rules in school, but they forget them later in life.

Use commas to set apart a parenthetical phrase (see em-dash in Tip 8 above): Your SEO practitioner, if he cares about your business, will tell you it may take months to gain organic traffic.

Use a comma after an informal introductory phrase: Dear John,

Good grammar helps your reader understand your concept. And, when you want to convey concepts, you also need to keep your syntax and vocabulary succinct. You’ll keep your reader from being confused.

In The Sense of Style , Steven Pinker said:

The key is to assume that your readers are as intelligent and sophisticated as you are, but that they happen not to know something you know.

Now, go share what you know.

Take your writing to the next level:

20 Editing Tips From Professional Writers

20 Editing Tips From Professional Writers

Whether you are writing a novel, essay, article, or email, good writing is an essential part of communicating your ideas., this guide contains the 20 most important writing tips and techniques from a wide range of professional writers..


Zara Altair writes traditional mysteries set in ancient Italy under Ostrogoths rule in The Argolicus Mysteries . She teaches mystery screenwriters and novelists at Write A Killer Mystery . She creates semantic web content for a select clientele.

How to Use Alliteration to Improve Your Writing

Learn everything you need to know about grammar.


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How to Make Writing Sound More Professional

how to make your essay sound smarter

Honed, professional writing doesn’t just make your business look good—it’s also a smart investment. Consider what can happen when written communications aren’t prioritized: Blue-chip businesses are reportedly spending $3.1 billion per year on remedial writing training, according to a study by CollegeBoard. It also found that $2.9 billion of that budget is dedicated to training existing employees.

Written communications that don’t adequately represent your company could end up costing you billions in revenue. Poor internal communications alone can cost your company up to $62.4 million annually . 

Get hands-on with Grammarly Business To empower your team with effective and efficient communication Start Free Trial

So how can you make your team’s writing sound more professional? 

Let’s review some quick tips and actionable approaches you can introduce to your team that you can implement swiftly, as well as some tools that benefit your entire team as well. 

6 tips to make writing sound more professional

Here are some of the key tips your teams can quickly implement for more effective and engaging business emails, memos, articles, and presentations: 

1 Use active voice. To sound more professional, be concise and to the point. Short and uncomplicated sentence structure that uses active verb phrases and minimizes passive voice will express your point more quickly and clearly, avoiding potential miscommunication and confusion.

2 Focus on formal language. Engage the reader with a professional tone that’s free from unprofessional, informal language. Stay away from figures of speech, slang or jargon, colloquialisms, and redundant expressions that can add take away from the intended message you’re trying to convey.

3   Incorporate statistics and facts. Concrete examples, statistics, and facts create a more powerful message for readers, while generalizations can tend to have less of an impact when written.

4 Revise for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. No one is immune to mistakes—no matter how good of a writer they are. Spelling, punctuation, and grammar should be carefully reviewed before content is submitted or sent off to its intended audience. Simple mistakes create a poor impression that can be difficult to shake off.

5 Eliminate excessive words and awkward phrasing. Deliver concise writing that avoids redundant phrasing—it can cause your message to land awkwardly.

6 Ensure content strikes the intended tone. Just as people sometimes say things they don’t mean, people can also write things that don’t necessarily reflect what they want to convey. While in spoken conversation this can easily be rectified, the stakes are a bit higher in professional writing. It’s critical for employees to ensure their writing strikes the intended tone to eliminate any chance for misinterpretation or confusion—especially since they can’t quickly justify or clarify the meaning in real-time. Content needs to be carefully written in a way that is clear, concise, and contributes to creating the right tone.

While these tips may be quick to implement on an individual basis, following up to check for compliance presents a greater challenge. How can you make sure everyone on your team is producing consistently professional writing?

How to facilitate a professional writing upgrade

To ensure everyone on your team is equipped with the information they need to produce professional writing that best represents your company, there are a number of actionable initiatives you can invest in. 

Invest in a dynamic digital writing assistant

This option encapsulates the best features of a writing course and a style guide to bring you the quickest, most cost-effective way to ensure all team members are writing in a professional manner that is brand-aligned. 

A digital writing assistant like Grammarly Business quickly checks your teams’ writing against standard conventions—as well as customized best practices for internal and external messaging created by you via the custom style guide feature—offering suggestions to add polish and help teams learn as they write. This saves valuable time and eliminates the need to proofread when the draft is complete. It can also easily integrate with your teams’ day-to-day workflows, reducing the need for ad hoc learning or expensive developmental programs. 

A modern writing assistant tool will also provide you with an administrative dashboard that allows you to monitor your teams’ usage and performance statistics. 

Schedule a writing course

Enrolling all teams in a writing course ensures that they all receive the same instruction. You can even bring in a consultant and customize the learning to your specifications, or you can opt for a webinar or online learning modules that meet your needs.

However, writing courses can be costly. And they present a lot of information at once, which raises some concerns. How can you extend the same benefit to new team members as they join your workforce? How will you follow up to be sure everyone is implementing their new knowledge consistently? 

Develop style guides

Developing a traditional style guide or manual can elevate content, formalize the voice of the company, and help teams to write in a more professional manner. It provides a single source of truth for team members—both existing and new—to easily refer to. This reduces the risk of different voices being externally projected. 

However, they can be tedious to create, difficult to enforce across teams, and challenging to ensure their consistent use. 

Luckily there are more modern custom style guides available that provide all the benefits of traditional style guides, with new improvements. For example, Grammarly Business allows its administrators to easily and quickly create a custom-branded style guide that can be shared with all members of their organization in a matter of seconds. Grammarly Business can then scan and evaluate team members’ content against the branded style guide in real-time to ensure the content is aligned. It also allows administrators to review performance and usage statistics so they can better optimize the guide to fit current needs. 

Choosing an effective writing solution

Though there are several measures you could take to make your teams’ writing sound more professional, Grammarly Business provides an all-in-one solution that uses artificial intelligence to learn and grow alongside your teams while helping them elevate their professional writing skill sets. 

In fact, 83% of Grammarly Business users agreed that the tool helped them sound more professional. 

Grammarly Business acts as a professional editor and writing coach for every team member, fostering a productive environment where everyone is learning and improving at their own pace. 

Professionalism is a staple characteristic of every business—making it essential that all communications convey a professional tone. Investing in tools that streamline and augment how you improve your business’ writing strengthens your entire company. 

Interested in how Grammarly Business can make your teams’ writing sound more professional? Contact us to learn more or upgrade to Grammarly Business today. 

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20 Words to Make your Essays Sound Smarter

7 minutes reading time

Title image

Essays seem to come out of the blue sometimes, leaving you feeling apprehensive and underprepared.

Using the right vocabulary to convey a sense of intelligence is oftentimes a big source of anxiety when it comes to writing essays. That, and the at times overwhelming information you need to know with Harvard referencing.

While you shouldn’t try to fill your essay with flowery language and turns of phrase, it isn’t a bad idea to dust off the thesaurus and dictionary from time to time and get searching.

If you’re strapped for time though and would appreciate a few fancy words to sprinkle into your next essay then we’ve got you covered.

The 20 words we’ve listed in this article are all perfectly suited for use in essays, whether the topic is business or Shakespeare’s plays.


Grammar points to smarten up your essays

Before we tackle this vocabulary though it’s worth taking a moment to consider the different categories they fall into, so you can become more familiar about their purpose in a sentence.

While it may seem unnecessary to review the basics, we could all benefit from a refresher of the fundamentals every now and again. You never know, it could just improve your student performance and elevate your writing ability.

Connectors Words

Chain in the sun

If you’re trying to improve your essay writing skills then narrative flow is something you should take seriously.

Narrative flow refers simply to how well an argument or plot can be followed in a text.

A good author takes the reader along for a journey with compelling storytelling, and this is a technique you can use even in an essay about business.

At the beginning of an essay you want to pose a question which ideally you’ll answer in some way in the conclusion. Your job then is to keep the reader’s interest and focus on the question throughout the text.

If you stop too many times to digress, you may end up diluting the focus of the essay and confusing the reader.

One of the ways to effectively string together a coherent argument in an essay is through the use of connectors.

Connectors are the glue that keep the structure of an essay intact, and are crucial for linking together all of your key points and arguments.

While you don’t need to know too many smart connectors to write a stellar essay, you will want to make sure you have enough to cover each possible transition you could make.

Another part of speech to master if you want to improve your coursework is the adjectives.

Not enough adjectives and your essay might come across as bland.

Too many adjectives though and your essay could seem bloated.

Striking the balance is important if you want to come across as intelligent with your words, since too far either way and might lose a reader’s interest.

To make the most of adjectives, you should try to use them sparingly and only when they add real meaning.

For example, to claim that a building is ‘very tall’ might well be acceptable in speech, but can come across as a little redundant in the written word.

Instead, aim to use adjectives to point out something that is slightly unusual, or to reinforce a point.

‘The emotional scientist’ has more weight behind it than the ‘logical scientist’, since the reader would probably already assume that a scientist is logically-minded.

The ‘sharp decline’ in sales is an example of when an adjective can be used to reinforce a point well as it creates a visual image of a line dropping suddenly on a graph. A decline on its own doesn’t have as much impact on the reader, and doesn’t tell them how quickly it is happening either.

Check for English classes online on Superprof.

Man playing tennis on a hard court

Getting to grips with the use of verbs in an essay can be one of the biggest factors in getting a higher mark.

To improve grammar and convince your teacher or examiner that you have a solid grasp of it, you’ll need to be familiar with the active and passive forms of verbs and when to use both of them.

Verbs in the active voice are those which highlight the person doing the action in the sentence and as a result come across as more direct.

Those in the passive voice instead emphasise another element of the sentence.

As an example, ‘the woman swings her racket’ shows off the active form of the verb swing. We know in this sentence that it is the woman that is highlighted, not the racket which is the object of the sentence.

If you were to instead write ‘the racket was swung by the woman’, then you would place more emphasis on the racket than the woman.

As a general rule, it’s best to stick with using verbs in the active voice as much as possible . This is a great way to keep the reader engaged without causing any confusion as to who is doing what.

In some cases, it might seem difficult not to use the passive voice.

It can be very tempting in an essay to say something along the lines of ‘it is said that’ or ‘it has been claimed’, and while you might think that this sounds good, it’s often the better option to identify the subject.

That way, you add clarity to your writing, which you should value above all else. So instead of ‘it is said’, you can think about who is speaking, for example ‘students say’ or ‘experts say’.

While the passive voice certainly has its uses, and can be a great way to vary up your language, if you don’t use it correctly you risk confusing the reader and detracting from the clarity of your writing.

You can check for an English class near me here.

Cactus plant and stack of books

If you upgrade the nouns you use in your essays, you can take large strides towards better grades.

By upgrade, I don’t mean replacing the nouns you use frequently with ones that sound smarter. I mean replacing nouns which don’t fully capture what you want to say with ones that are more specific.

For example, if you were to describe something as a ‘cure’, you could be saying one of various things. It could be medication, treatment, or something else designed to help you heal from an injury.

Cure is a perfectly valid word to use to refer to a new medicine that eradicates an illness, but ‘antidote’ is the best word to use for something that cures you from poisoning.

While it’s difficult to know the right noun for every situation, you will likely be able to figure out when a noun is too vague or general to capture a specific meaning.

You should also be careful when using a word that sounds smart and correct in context but you don’t know its exact meaning.

For example, ‘fortuitous’ could be used to describe a situation in which you were lucky, right?

The correct word here is ‘fortunate’, but unfortunately many have taken to using the ‘fortuitous’ instead.

As a general rule, if in doubt, check the word in the dictionary . If you’re in an exam setting and you don’t have that luxury, then resort to the simplest way you know of expressing what you want to say. Using a very simple word is far better than using a long yet incorrect one.

This comes back to the point of clarity in your writing, which is something you should look to uphold no matter what the cost.

Check for English classes near me for adults here.

20 Words to Smarten up your Essays

If you have to weigh up potentially sounding smarter vs absolutely sounding clear, then you should always pick the latter option.

An anomaly is something which doesn’t conform to what’s normal. That could be a stray statistic in a chart, or an odd sibling in an otherwise normal family.

Avant-garde is an adjective you can use to refer to something or someone with radical new ideas or a novel methodology.

Capricious is an adjective to describe someone or something that is very unpredictable or changes suddenly.

A dichotomy can be used to describe a divide between two very different ideas or concepts.

The epitome of something the perfect form of it.

When an idea, object or anything else is ubiquitous, it means it can be seen everywhere.

Moreover is a connector you can use to double down on your last point.

Compelling is an adjective which suggests something is so fascinating you have to pay attention.

Acrimonious is an adjective which suggests a conversation or person was full of bitterness.

To be brusque in conversation is to be very abrupt or impatient with someone.

A catch-22 is a problem which will result in a negative either way.

Attest is a verb to describe when someone has proof of something.

Indicate is a simple verb which you can use to replace ‘show’.

Constraints is a noun which refers to limits that have been placed.

To make an incremental change is to do so in small steps.

The verb substantiate refers to the process of backing up a point with evidence.

Quintessential refers to a strong example of a particular characteristic or type.

To describe someone as Machiavellian is to accuse them of scheming or using their cunning to get what they want.

Idyllic can be used to describe a perfect scenario or place.

Malaise can be used to refer to feeling less than ideal, or in a state of discomfort.

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How to Sound Smart

Last Updated: February 3, 2023 References

This article was co-authored by Leah Morris and by wikiHow staff writer, Danielle Blinka, MA, MPA . Leah Morris is a Life and Relationship Transition coach and the owner of Life Remade, a holistic personal coaching service. With over three years as a professional coach, she specializes in guiding people as they move through both short-term and long-term life transitions. Leah holds a BA in Organizational Communication from California State University, Chico and is a certified Transformational Life Coach through the Southwest Institute for Healing Arts. There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 90,574 times.

You don’t need word of the day toilet paper or a huge vocabulary to sound smart. Instead, focus on presenting your ideas in a clear, coherent way. With a few new habits, you can impress your friends, outshine your fellow students, or make waves at work.

Choosing Your Words Carefully

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Making Good Arguments

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Using Body Language

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how to make your essay sound smarter

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About This Article

Leah Morris

To sound smart, avoid using unnecessary filler words, like "um," "well," and "like," since they can make you appear uncertain. Also, try to use descriptive vocabulary, like "thrilling," "depressing," and "remarkable," instead of vague words like "good," and "cool." You should also avoid phrases like "I guess," "I'm not sure," or "maybe I'm wrong," since they undermine what you're saying. For tips on how to project confidence so you appear smarter, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Text Inflator is a tool that expands the length of a block of writing without adding any additional meaning. Simply paste your paper, essay, report, article, speech, paragraph, or any other block of English writing below and choose a desperation setting. A higher desperation setting will expand your essay much more than a smaller one, but will make your writing much more verbose sounding.

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Text Inflator adds unnecessary modifiers to adjectives and verbs, uses larger words and phrases in place of smaller ones, and repeats parts of sentences. For the best results, it is recommended that you input grammatically correct paragraphs without spelling mistakes.

Although this tool will make your essay, paragraph, or paper longer, it may make it worse. It is not recommended that this be used for a formal, graded assignment, except possibly in the most extreme of circumstances with a low desperation setting and additional editing on your part. We are not responsible for lower grades or demoralizing remarks from your teachers or professors.


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  1. 15 Words and Phrases That Will Make Your Essay Sound Smarter

    So enjoy our list of 15 words and phrases that will be of great help to make you paper sound smarter. In other words When to Use: To paraphrase something in a simpler manner, thus making it easier to understand; Exemplary Sentence: Writing an essay isn’t as black as it’s painted.

  2. 8 Tips to Make Your Writing Sound More Formal - ProofreadingPal

    Truthfully, we cannot make you soundsmart.” There is no substitute for good ideas, but we can (and do) help you elevate your tone and make you sound like a bona fide professional-thinking person. Here are some handy tricks that you can use yourself. Avoid colloquial, informal words

  3. 14 Grammar Tips to Make Your Writing Sound Smart - ProWritingAid

    If you want to sound smart in your writing, be clear with your audience. Clarity is key to helping readers understand your text. Good grammar makes your sentences easy to understand. No matter how sophisticated your idea is, present it with clarity. Good Grammar Clarifies When you want to sound smart, using good grammar is important.

  4. How to Make Writing Sound More Professional - Grammarly

    To sound more professional, be concise and to the point. Short and uncomplicated sentence structure that uses active verb phrases and minimizes passive voice will express your point more quickly and clearly, avoiding potential miscommunication and confusion.

  5. 20 Words to Make your Essays Sound Smarter - SuperProf

    One of the ways to effectively string together a coherent argument in an essay is through the use of connectors. Connectors are the glue that keep the structure of an essay intact, and are crucial for linking together all of your key points and arguments.

  6. 3 Ways to Sound Smart - wikiHow

    Download Article. 1. Use common words and phrases so you can clearly present your ideas. You might feel pressured to use “scholarly” words to sound smart, but it’s best to focus on being understood. Stick to everyday words that most people will know. Just try to use the best words possible to share your ideas. [1]

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    Simply paste your paper, essay, report, article, speech, paragraph, or any other block of English writing below and choose a desperation setting. A higher desperation setting will expand your essay much more than a smaller one, but will make your writing much more verbose sounding. How does it work?