Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Useful phrases for essays

Many people prefer _____, but a growing number believe that ______.
The increasing number of [or: amount of or: danger of] ______ has become an urgent problem.
Some people believe that ______, while others argue strongly that _____.
Ever since the ______ incident, journalists and politicians have argued for more ______. Let’s look at what each side has to say.
One day I was on my way to [or: was speaking with or: was trying to] ______, when, suddenly, _______. I realized that _______ and decided to do something about it.

NOTE: Sometimes you can begin your essay by simply paraphrasing the assigned topic, or turning it into a question: "The Internet has become a popular source for information. Does the Internet deserve this popularity, or do its dangers outweigh its advantages?" 

Outlining one side of the argument:
Many people argue that _______.
In my experience, _______. [See note below concerning third-person vs first-person.]
In other words, ________.
On the one hand, __________.
This approach has many advantages ....
First, …. Second, …. Third, …. In addition, …. Finally, ….
As evidence, they point to ________.
If we fail to take their advice, the number of ________ will start to go up, and the _______ will start to go down.
Is it fair that ______ will enjoy ______ while millions of others will ______?
Throughout history, people have _________________.

Outlining the other side of the argument:
On the other hand, _________.
To be fair, _________.
They argue that _________, but fail to notice that _________.
To a certain extent, they are right. For example, __________.
Theoretically, this may be true. But in real life, ....
However, there are no reports of [or: there is no evidence of] __________.
At the same time, ______________.
Is it worth the risk?

To sum up, ________.
We [or They] can’t have it both ways; either _________ is true or _________ is true.
In the final analysis, _________.
Both sides have some good points, _______________.
While the results are not conclusive, most of the evidence points to __________.
It is obvious that ______________.
Why must we choose? Both approaches have value.
If our only concern is immediate results, we can choose _________, but if we take future generations into account, we will clearly want to ________.

NOTE ON VOICE/PERSON: In general, essays written in the first-person "I" or "we" voice are less formal. Often personal experience is more persuasive than abstract discussions, but be sure to take into account your intended audience. An academic audience may prefer or even require a more objective-sounding third-person approach.

BE CONSISTENT. If you decide to speak in the first person singular, "I", don't switch to "we" or a passive voice halfway through the essay. If you speak as "we" or as a neutral observer, don't switch to "I" unless you make an explicit switch, for example at the end: "I would like to conclude with a personal experience."
[modified 2013/09/18]

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