Argumentative phrases for essays

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These are common expressions for framing one’s ideas1. The asterisks [*] indicate expressions that are not preferred in academic English, e.g., due to their informality; first person, especially I, is generally to be avoided in most formal academic writing[1].

1 Essay opening

1.1 Topic priming

  • for a long time X, it has been the case that Y
  • it is/has been (often) asserted / believed / noted that X
  • most accounts of X state / claim / maintain that Y
  • according to, X is Y
  • one of the most controversial/important X’s (in the recent literature) is Y

1.2 Topic nomination (naming / identifying a topic): Statement of purpose

  • this paper intends / is designed to X
  • the basic emphasis / purpose / goal of the paper / article is to X
  • I/we / this paper intends to show / demonstrate / illustrate that X*
  • the purpose of this study / analysis / discussion is to X

1.3 Topic nomination: Statement of topic

  • this paper treats / discusses / claims that X
  • it is the case that X
  • my/our / this paper’s argument is essentially that X*
  • I/we / this paper claims / maintains / contends that X*

1.4 Statement of organization

  • this paper will compare / contrast / describe / demonstrate that X (first) (by analyzing / comparing / demonstrating) (that Y) (then by ____ing Z, and finally by ____ing A)
  • in what follows, X will be examined in erms of Y (and Z)

2 Body

2.1 asserting

  • it can be claimed / said / assumed that X
  • it seems certain / likely / doubtful that X
  • I/we / this paper maintains / claims that X*

2.2 agreeing

  • as X perceptively states
  • I/we rather / somewhat / strongly agree with / support (the idea that) X*
  • X provides / lends support to Y’s argument / claim / conclusion that Z / about Z

2.3 disagreeing

  • as X would have us believe,
  • I/we rather / somewhat / strongly disagree with X*
  • as X states (somewhat) unclearly / erroneously
  • X does not support Y’s argument / claim / conclusion that Z
  • although X contends that Y
  • rather, this paper argues that X
  • X in no way substantiates / supports Y
  • X repudiates / disproves / disconfirms / calls Y into question

2.4 comparing

  • both X and Y are (quite) similar in that Z
  • X resembles Y
  • X and Y have / share some aspects of Z
  • X and Y have in common that Z
  • X is not unlike Y in that / with respect to Z

2.5 contrasting

  • X is (quite) different from Y (in that Z)
  • X is not the case that / the same as Y
  • X in no way resembles Y
  • X contrasts with Y (in that Z)
  • X is unlike Y in that / with respect to Z

2.6 recommending

  • it is suggested / recommended that X
  • this study recommends that X
  • I / we recommend / suggest that X*

2.7 substantiating

  • as proof / evidence / an example (for this) ...
  • according to ______
  • as X says / claims / maintains / demonstrates
  • X provides evidence / support that Y
  • X substantiates Y

2.8 classifying

  • X can / may / might be divided / classified into Y (and Z)
  • X and Y are categories / divisions of Z

2.9 demonstrating

X demonstrates / shows that Y X is an illustration of Y


3 References

  1. Adapted from an excerpt from Nattinger, J. & DeCarrico, J. 1992. Lexical Phrase and Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. pp. 165-6.