Academic writing can be a challenge! The language used sometimes feels so far-removed from what we speak, and if you have never had wide exposure to a range of texts, then finding those elusive, new words can be hard work.
Enter Word’s synonyms tool.
You probably never knew that it was there, because it hides away in the Review toolbar, or on a right-click menu.
Let’s have a go:
Researchers will look at several methods to solve this problem.
‘Look at’ is a phrasal verb (made up of two parts) and is not very elegant in this context. We tend to use a lot of phrasal verbs in speech, but there are often more sophisticated words that we can use. This is where a Thesauraus comes in useful. Originally, the word ‘Thesaurus’ came from Greek (θησαυρός (thēsaurós)) meaning a ‘storehouse’ or ‘treasure’ and what it contains nowadays is the richness of our language. English typically has several words that can all be used with the same or very similar meaning. (Roget’s Thesaurus, the most famous edition, was originally compiled in 1805 and published in 1852. It has never been out of print!)
So, let’s look at how Word can make my sentence sound better.
I am going to highlight and right-click over ‘look at’ and see what it offers:
Now, let’s review the sentence:
Researchers will explore several methods to solve this problem.
Researchers will investigate several methods to solve this problem.
Both sound much more ‘academic’ than ‘look at’.
If we do not have any options within the drop-down list, we can go right down to the word ‘Thesaurus’. This opens up a full thesaurus at the side of the page. This even pronounces words for you, and let’s you move through a series of words and definitions. (If you intend to use this regularly, it is also worth installing the dictionary.)
So, no more bland, insipid, weak, plain, flat language! Get using the Synonym selector and brighten things up!
PS – If you find you like synonyms, have a play with thesaurus.com