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Ne
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ion

in Use
Vocabulary reference
and practice
Self-study and classroom use

Second Edition

Michael McCarthy
Felicity O’Dell

Academic
Vocabulary
in Use
Vocabulary reference
and practice
Self-study and classroom use

Second Edition

Michael McCarthy
Felicity O’Dell

University Printing House, Cambridge CB2 8BS, United Kingdom
One Liberty Plaza, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10006, USA
477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC 3207, Australia
314–321, 3rd Floor, Plot 3, Splendor Forum, Jasola District Centre,
New Delhi – 110025, India
79 Anson Road, #06–04/06, Singapore 079906
Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge.
It furthers the University’s mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of
education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence.
www.cambridge.org
Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9781107591660
© Cambridge University Press 2016
This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without the written
permission of Cambridge University Press.
First published 2008
Second edition 2016
20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8
Printed in Dubai by Oriental Press
A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library
ISBN 978-1-107-59166-0 Paperback
Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy
of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication,
and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain,
accurate or appropriate.

Contents
Acknowledgements
To the student and the teacher

0

Before you start

Getting started:
General academic vocabulary
1 What is special about

5
6
8

10

academic English?

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

Key nouns

12

Key verbs

14

Key adjectives

16

Key adverbs

18

Phrasal verbs in academic English

20

Key quantifying expressions

22

Words with several meanings

24

Metap; hors and idioms

26

Word combinations
10 Nouns and the words they

11
12
13
14
15
16
17

combine with

28

Adjective and noun combinations

30

Verbs and the words they
combine with

32

Prepositional phrases

34

Verbs and prepositions

36

Nouns and prepositions

38

Chunks: useful phrases

40

Abbreviations and affixes

42

Academic life
18 Applications and application forms
19 The social and academic environment
20 Academic courses
21 E-learning
22 Study habits and skills
23 Money and education

44
46
48
50
52

Planning and starting work
24 Identifying goals
25 Planning a piece of work
26 Describing methods
27 Using sources
Thinking and interacting
28 Analysing data
29 Talking about ideas
30 Reporting what others say
31 Talking about meaning
32 Talking about points of view
Ways of talking about …
33 Numbers
34 Statistics
35 Graphs and diagrams
36 Time
37 Cause and effect
38 Classifying
Organising and presenting ideas
39 Structuring an argument
40 Organising your writing
41 Processes and procedures
42 Facts, evidence and data
43 Making connections
44 Describing problems
45 Describing situations
46 Comparing and contrasting
47 Evaluation and emphasis
48 Describing change
49 Summarising and concluding
50 Making a presentation

56
58
60
62

64
66
68
70
72

74
76
78
80
82
84

86
88
90
92
94
96
98
100
102
104
106
108

54

Academic Vocabulary in Use

3

Reading and vocabulary
1 Nutrition for elite athletes

110

2 The solar system

111

3 Graphology

112

4 Measuring time

113

5 Archaeology and medicine

114

6 Seeing things differently

115

Reference

4

1 Formal and informal academic
words and expressions

116

2 Numbers, units of measurement
and common symbols

120

3 British and North American
academic vocabulary

122

4 Spelling variations

126

5 Word formation

128

Answer key

132

Phonemic symbols

162

Index

163

Academic Vocabulary in Use

Acknowledgements
The authors wish to thank Helen Freeman, Chris
Capper and Sheila Dignen for their invaluable
intellectual and editorial support during the
course of the preparation of this new edition.
We must also thank the lexicography and
computational team at Cambridge University
Press whose work with the Cambridge
International Corpus, the Cambridge Learner
Corpus and the CANCODE corpus of spoken
English (developed at the University of
Nottingham in association with Cambridge
University Press), enabled us to make a fully
corpus-informed selection of the academic
vocabulary we focus on in these materials.
We acknowledge with gratitude the pioneering
work on academic word lists done by Averil
Coxhead. In planning this book we made
considerable use of her lists at http://www.
victoria.ac.nz/lals/resources/academicwordlist/
We also acknowledge the work of Annette Capel
and the English Vocabulary Profile. The EVP
enabled us to select vocabulary appropriate to
the level.
Michael McCarthy and Felicity O’Dell
Development of this publication has made use
of the Cambridge English Corpus, a multi-billion
word collection of spoken and written English.
It includes the Cambridge Learner Corpus, a
unique collection of candidate exam answers.
Cambridge University Press has built up the
Cambridge English Corpus to provide evidence
about language use that helps to produce better
language teaching materials.
The authors and publishers acknowledge the
following sources of copyright material and
are grateful for the permissions granted. While
every effort has been made, it has not always
been possible to identify the sources of all the
material used, or to trace all copyright holders.
If any omissions are brought to our notice,
we will be happy to include the appropriate
acknowledgements on reprinting and in the next
update to the digital edition, as applicable.
New Scientist for the text on p. 25 adapted from
‘Simulator could predict where epidemics will
strike next’, New Scientist, 30.03.2006. Copyright
© 2006 Reed Business Information UK. All
rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media
Services; Scientific American for the text on p.
27 adapted from ‘Shutting Down Alzheimers’ by
Michael S. Wolfe, Scientific American. Reproduced
with permission. Copyright © (2006) Scientific
American, Inc. All rights reserved; Nature

Publishing Group for the text on p. 39 adapted
from ‘Abridged Extract timing is life and death’,
Nature, Vol 441, no. 7089, 04.05.2006. Copyright
© 2006 Nature Publishing Group. Reproduced
with permission; Text on p. 110 adapted from J.
Anderson, Colorado State University Extension
foods and nutrition specialist and professor; S.
Perryman, CSU Extension foods and nutrition
specialist; L. Young, former foods and nutrition
graduate student; and S. Prior, former graduate
intern, food science and human nutrition.
Reviewed and revised, July, 2015 by Colorado
State University Jessica Clifford, Research
Associate and Extension Specialist and K.
Maloney, graduate student in the Dept. of Food
Science Human Nutrition; Dunedin Academic
Press Ltd for the text on p. 111 adapted from
‘Introducing the planets and their moons’ by
Peter Cattermole. Reproduced with permission
from Cattermole Introducing the Planets and
their Moons (Dunedin, Edinburgh, 2014); Text on
p. 112 adapted from David Crystal, The Cambridge
Encyclopedia of Language 2nd Edition, 1997, ©
David Crystal 1997, published by Cambridge
University Press, adapted and reproduced with
permission of the author and publisher; Scientific
American for the text on p. 113 adapted from
‘A Chronicle of timekeeping’ by William J. H.
Andrews, Scientific American, Vol 23. Reproduced
with permission. Copyright © (2014) Scientific
American, Inc. All rights reserved; Text on p. 114
adapted from Patricia A. Baker, The Archaeology
of Medicine in the Greco-Roman World, 2013, ©
Patricia A. Baker 2013, published by Cambridge
University Press, adapted and reproduced with
permission of the author and publisher; Text on
p. 115 adapted from ‘Seeing Things Differently’
by Shaaron Ainsworth, RSA Journal, Issue 2.
Copyright © 2014 RSA Journal. Reproduced with
permission of Shaaron Ainsworth.
Photographs
p. 20: © Lars Wallin/Etsa Images/Corbis; p. 21:
Plume Creative/Getty Images; p. 35: kikujungboy/
Shutterstock; p. 36: © Radius Images/Corbis;
p. 54 (photo 1): picamaniac/Shutterstock; p. 54
(photo 2): payaercan/Getty Images; p. 54 (photo
3): © YAY Media AS/Alamy; p. 64: © Ken Welsh/
Alamy; p. 70: © Radius Images/Alamy; p. 71: ©
Michael Ochs/Corbis; p. 80: © Wavebreak Media
Ltd/Alamy; p. 108: © moodboard/Corbis.
Illustrations
Kamae Design pp. 40, 41, 46, 52, 76, 77, 78, 79.

Academic Vocabulary in Use

5

To the student and the teacher
Who is this book for?
This book is for anyone who wants or needs to learn the kind of English which is used in
academic contexts. It deals with the language used in written works such as textbooks and
journal articles as well as with the spoken language of lectures and seminars. It also presents
vocabulary relating to being a student at a university or college in that it covers topics relating to
university life. It will be particularly useful for students preparing for IELTS, the Pearson Academic
English Test or any other examination aimed at assessing whether candidates’ English is at a
high enough level to study in an institution where English is the medium of instruction. It will be
helpful for people who need to attend – or indeed give – lectures or presentations in English or to
participate in international conferences. It will enable students who have to prepare assignments
or write up a dissertation in English to do so in a much more natural and appropriate way.

What kind of vocabulary does the book deal with?
The book presents and practises the kind of vocabulary that is used in academic contexts
regardless of which discipline you are specialising in. So it considers words and expressions
like concept, put forward a theory and come to a conclusion. It does not deal with the specialist
vocabulary of any particular subject such as anatomy or physics. Specialist terms are often
relatively easy to master – they will be explained and taught as you study the subject and indeed
these words may sometimes be similar in English and your own language. However, it is the more
general vocabulary used for discussing ideas and research and for talking and writing about
academic work that you need to be familiar with in order to feel comfortable in an academic
environment. Despite the fact that such vocabulary items are much more frequent than specialist
vocabulary, they are often felt to be more difficult to learn. It is, therefore, useful to approach
them in the systematic way suggested by this book.
One positive aspect of academic vocabulary is that there are relatively few differences, depending
on whether you are studying in London or New York, Delhi or Sydney, Johannesburg, Dublin,
Wellington, Toronto or Singapore or indeed any other place where you may be using English for
academic purposes. Academic English tends to be a truly international language and the units of
the book focus on vocabulary that will be essential for you regardless of where you are studying
now or where you may be likely to study in the future. There are some differences between words
used to describe people and places and these are highlighted in Unit 19. Reference sections 3 and
4 also focus on some vocabulary and spelling variations. In the units of the book we use British
English spelling conventions, except when quoting texts which originally used American spellings.
Much of the vocabulary used in the book is neutral in that it is equally appropriate in both written
and spoken contexts. We indicate those instances where a word is too formal to be used in
speech or too informal to use in academic writing.

How was the vocabulary for the book selected?
The academic vocabulary focused on in this book was all selected from language identified as
significant by the Cambridge International Corpus of written and spoken English and also the
CANCODE corpus of spoken English developed at the University of Nottingham in association with
Cambridge University Press. These enormous corpora include large collections of written and
spoken academic text and so it was possible to identify language that is distinctive for academic
contexts. We also made considerable use of the Cambridge Learner Corpus, a corpus of more
than 60 million words of text taken from hundreds of thousands of learner scripts from students
taking Cambridge English exams all over the world. From this corpus we were able to learn what
kinds of errors students taking, for example, IELTS, were typically making.
In planning this book we made considerable use of Averil Coxhead’s work on developing
academic wordlists. Her lists can be found at, for example, http://www.uefap.com/vocab/select/
awl.htm
6

Academic Vocabulary in Use

How is the book organised?
Each unit consists of two pages. The left-hand page presents the academic vocabulary to be
focused on in the unit. You will usually find words and expressions presented in context with,
where appropriate, any special notes about their meaning and usage. The right-hand page
checks that you have understood the information on the presentation page by giving you a
series of exercises to complete.
The units are organised into different sections: The book begins with a Unit Zero called Before
you start. The first section then includes nine units which look at basic aspects of academic
vocabulary such as what is special about academic vocabulary, key verbs and key quantifying
expressions. The second section devotes eight units to how words typically combine with
one another in academic English. The third section has six units focusing on aspects of life in
academic institutions. The fourth section provides four units considering aspects of planning
and starting a piece of work and the fifth consists of five units relating to thinking and
interacting. The sixth section has six units dealing with ways of talking about different concepts
such as numbers, time and cause and effect. The seventh section includes twelve units covering
aspects of the organisation and presentation of ideas.
Towards the end of the book you will find six reading texts relating to different academic
disciplines with exercises based on the vocabulary in those texts. We hope you will find these
useful examples of how to use texts to expand your knowledge of academic vocabulary in
English and would recommend that you read these texts and do the exercises on them even if
they relate to an academic subject that is very different from your own.
There are five reference sections dealing with some key areas where we felt it would be useful
for you to have lists of items that could not be presented as fully in the main body of the book,
i.e. Formal and informal academic words and expressions, Numbers, units of measurement
and common symbols, British and North American academic vocabulary, Spelling variations
and Word formation. Where appropriate, these reference sections provide space for you to add
further examples of your own.
At the end of the book there is a Key with answers to all the exercises and an Index of all the
key words and expressions, indicating the units where they can be found. The pronunciation is
provided for standard British English.
Do Unit Zero first followed by Unit 1 What is special about academic English? Then work
through the remaining units in any order that suits you.
So, good luck with your work on academic English. We hope that the materials in this book will
help you to enjoy and to benefit fully from your studies. We hope that you will be able to share
ideas in a creative, exciting way with scholars from all over the world and we wish you the very
best for a successful and rewarding academic life.

Academic Vocabulary in Use

7

0
A

Before you start
What do I need
• a notebook or file – to write down the vocabulary that you study in this book as well as words and
expressions that you come across elsewhere
• some good dictionaries
We strongly recommend the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary as this contains exactly the
kind of information you need in order to be able to understand and use English vocabulary. Through
its example sentences it shows you how the word is used and which other words it typically combines
with. The dictionary also helps you with difficult items such as phrasal verbs indicating, for example,
whether the object can come before the particle (set up the apparatus, set the apparatus up, go
through a set of calculations but not go a set of calculations through). The dictionary is available in
both paper and electronic versions and can be accessed online at http://dictionary.cambridge.org.
You will need a specialist dictionary relating to your own subject area as well. Your teacher may also
be able to recommend other dictionaries for your specific needs.

B

What should I note about new vocabulary?
Here are some things to note – though it won’t be appropriate to note them all for all words you
come across.
• examples of the word or expression in use
• typical word combinations - you might, for example, note down adjectives or verbs typically associated
with a noun that you want to learn or nouns, adverbs or prepositions associated with a verb
• any special features of the word (e.g. is there anything special about its grammar or pronunciation
or is it particularly characteristic of either written or spoken English?)
• any other information that might help you to learn the word (e.g. is it similar to any word in your
own language or does it share a root with a word you already know?)
• any additional vocabulary that learning this word may help with (e.g. does a verb have a related
noun or what is the opposite of an adjective?)
• any other uses of the word (e.g. can it be used metaphorically or does it have any other meanings
in the way that so many English words do?)
preliminary
inconclusive
Diagrams can be useful, for example,
word bubbles:

results

to interpret

to analyse

or word forks:

C

to identify the

origin
causes
factors

suggest

demonstrate

a common
an isolated
a universal

phenomenon

What else can I do to improve my vocabulary?
As well as working through the units in this book, read as much English as you can in the subject
areas that are most relevant to you. If you are new to studying in English, you could start by reading a
textbook aimed at students who are at a slightly lower level than you are as far as the subject area is
concerned; or you might prefer to read the latest articles in your field from a journal on the internet.
There is an enormous wealth of material available online for you to study and learn from. Try the
websites of universities and other academic institutions which have extensive websites, for example,
or blogs written by specialists in your field. Don’t forget that, as well as written texts, you can find
plenty of lectures and other listening materials online too.

8

Academic Vocabulary in Use

Exercises
0.1

Answer the questions about what you will use to help you learn new words.
1 Where do you plan to note down vocabulary – a notebook, a folder, an electronic file…?
2 What dictionaries (printed or online) are there relating to your own special subject?
3 What other good dictionaries are there that will be useful for you, e.g. a good bilingual
dictionary?

0.2

Look up the following words in a good dictionary and note them down with any of
the relevant types of information listed in B opposite.
1 university

2 academic

3 degree

I hope to go to university next year. (example of the word in use)

0.3

Look up the following phrasal verbs. Note down where the object an interesting
expression can go.
1 look up

2 note down

3 come across

look up an interesting expression, look an interesting expression up

0.4

Complete the word forks. Use a dictionary if necessary.
2 (adjectives)

1 (verbs)

higher

to carry out

education

an experiment

0.5

Complete the word bubbles. Use a dictionary to help you.

assignment

0.6

journal

Do the following tasks to help you explore academic vocabulary on the internet.
1 Check out a university website e.g.
the University of Cambridge at http://www.cam.ac.uk
Massachusetts Institute of Technology at http://web.mit.edu
the University of Sydney at http://sydney.edu.au
the University of Cape Town at http://www.uct.ac.za
Note down the different kinds of information you can find there.
2 Put lecture and the name of your subject e.g. lecture psychology into a search engine.
Make a note of any interesting links it takes you to.
3 Put blog and the name of your subject e.g. blog law into a search engine. Check out
some of the links it suggests. Make a note of any that look as if they may be worth
reading regularly.

Academic Vocabulary in Use

9

1
A

What is special about academic English?
Everyday words and academic uses
Many words in academic English are the same as everyday vocabulary, but they are often used with
a slightly different meaning, which may be specialised.
everyday use
Standards of discipline in
schools have declined.
Underline your family
name on the form.
The lake was frozen solid.

B

meaning
ability to control yourself
or other people
draw a line under it
not liquid or gas

academic use
Nanotechnology is a
relatively new discipline.
The research underlines the
value of case studies.
We have no solid evidence
that radiation has caused
the problem.

meaning
area of study
gives emphasis to
certain or safe; of a
good standard

Vocabulary and academic style
In writing, academics use many neutral expressions. They also use rather formal expressions which are
not common in everyday language. Knowing whether an expression is formal or just neutral is important.
neutral
in short, briefly, basically
only
almost, more or less

more formal
in sum, to sum up, fundamentally
sole(ly)
virtually

neutral
try
mainly, mostly
typical of

more formal
attempt
primarily
characteristic of

However, very informal vocabulary may be used in spoken academic styles in classes and lectures.
Learn to understand informal language when you hear it but be careful not to use it in essays and
written assignments. Here are some examples of teachers using informal language.
‘OK. Have a shot at doing task number 3.’ [more formal: Try/Attempt to do ... ]
‘There’s no way schools can be held responsible for failures of government policy.’ [more formal:
Schools cannot in any way be held ... ]
Academic language tries to be clear and precise, so it is important to keep a vocabulary notebook
(see page 8) and learn the differences between similar words, as well as typical word combinations
(underlined here).
The building is a prime example of 1920s architecture. [excellent in quality or value]
The group’s primary concern is to protect human rights. [main; most important]

C

Noun phrases
Academic language often uses complex noun phrases. For example, instead of saying Radiation was
accidentally released over a 24-hour period, damaging a wide area for a long time, an academic might
say The accidental release of radiation over a 24-hour period caused widespread long-term damage.
It is therefore important to learn the different forms of a word, for example:
noun
accident
quantity/quantification

verb
quantify

Finally, be aware of ‘chunks’ or
phrases which occur frequently, and
learn them as whole units. Examples:
in terms of, in addition to, for the most
part, in the case of, etc. (See Unit 16).

10

Academic Vocabulary in Use

adjective(s)
accidental
quantitative/quantifiable

adverb(s)
accidentally
quantitatively/quantifiably

Language help
Using complex noun phrases improves your writing style and
can contribute to higher grades in essays and assignments.

Exercises
1.1

The words in the box each have an everyday use and an academic use. Complete each
pair of sentences using the same word in the correct form.
generate

turn

solid

confirm

identify

underline

character

pose nature

focus

pose
1 She loves to
for photographs in front of her fabulous house.
pose
The events
a threat to stability in the region.
2 The photograph was useless. It was blurred and out of
Child poverty should be the
of our attention in the coming years.
3 I went online and
my flight reservation.
The data
the hypothesis that animal-lovers enjoy better health.
4 The power plant
electricity for the whole region.
This issue always
a great deal of debate among academics.
5 The murderer was
from fingerprints discovered at the scene.
In this theory of history, progress is closely
with technology.
6 I saw her
to her husband and whisper something in his ear.
Let us now
to the subject of social networking.
7 He always
every new word when he’s reading.
The study
the fact that very little research exists.
8 The liquid became
as the temperature was lowered.
The study lacks
evidence and its conclusions are questionable.

1.2

Rewrite the underlined words using more formal words and phrases from B opposite.
1
2
3
4
5
6

1.3

The book is mainly concerned with the problem of policing the internet.
Almost every school in the county had reported problems with the new system.
The work of the Institute is not only devoted to cancer research.
Basically, we believe we have demonstrated a significant link between the two events.
Several research teams have had a shot at solving the problem, without success.
The reaction is typical of the way large corporations keep control of their markets.

Read the text and answer the questions.
1 Underline two verbs followed by adverbs
which it would be useful to learn as pairs.
2 Underline two adverbs next to each other
which it would be useful to learn together.
3 What are the noun forms of the verbs
produce, rely, discover and claim?
4 A novel is a kind of book, but what does
the adjective novel mean here?

1.4

The production of plastics depends heavily on
petroleum, but a novel way of making plastics out
of sugar could reduce our reliance on oil.
The discovery that a chemical in sugar can be
converted relatively easily into a substance similar
in structure to the material obtained from petroleum
has led to the claim that plastics could soon be
produced cheaply by the new method.

Complete the second sentence using a noun phrase. Use a dictionary if necessary.
1 People who investigated the problem biologically came to no firm conclusions.
Biological investigations of the problem came to no firm conclusions.
2 When they developed antibiotics, it revolutionised medicine.
The
antibiotics caused a
in medicine.
3 They solved the problem by altering the deck of the bridge.
The
to the problem was an
to the deck of the bridge.
4 Exploring Antarctica has always been especially challenging.
The
of Antarctica has always presented special
.

Over to you
Look at an academic text you have read recently and underline pairs of words which
you think it would be useful to learn and remember together.
Academic Vocabulary in Use

11

2

Key nouns
This unit focuses on some important nouns in academic English. See also Units 10, 11 and 15.

A

General nouns referring to ideas
She wrote an article on the subject of class. [thing which is being discussed, considered or studied]
The theme of the poem is emigration. [main subject of a talk, book, etc.]
The students were given a list of essay topics. [specific subjects that someone discusses or writes about]
There was a lively debate on the issue of globalisation. [important subject or problem]
Political theory is a popular undergraduate subject. Einstein’s theory of gravitation has been
questioned recently. [statement of the rules on which a subject of study is based or, more generally,
an opinion or explanation]
The model of climate change presented in the Stern Review seems to be becoming a reality.
[description of a system or process which explains how it works]
The book is called ‘The Nature of Intelligence’. [basic character of something]
Human behaviour is based on the principle of least effort. [basic idea or rule that explains how
something happens or works]

B

More specific nouns connected with ideas and phenomena
Repetition is an important aspect of speech development in children. [one individual part of a
situation, problem, subject, etc.]
Automatic backup is a feature of the new software. [a typical quality that something has]
The political motives for the government’s actions are beyond the scope of this essay. [range of a
subject covered by a book, discussion, class, etc.]
The study revealed a pattern of results. [a regularly repeated arrangement]
During 2005, the number of violent attacks increased to an alarming degree. [amount or level]

C

Nouns referring to ways of thinking, processes and activities
Read these titles of academic books and articles. Note the key nouns and their prepositions.

Micro-organisms in water: their
significance1 and identification2
The Case4 for Change: Rethinking Teacher
Education. Towards a New Approach5

Renewable energy: a critical
assessment3 of recent research
6

Citizens’ Views
on Healthcare
Systems in the
European Union

7

Epidemiological research into asthma and allergic
disease: establishing a standardised methodology8
1

importance 2 ability to establish the identity of something 3 judgement of the amount, quality
or importance of something 4 arguments and facts in support of or against something 5 way of
considering something 6 particular ways of considering something 7 understanding based on
experience or information 8 set of methods used when studying something

Common Mistake
Research is uncountable. Don’t say: They carried out some useful researches. To make it plural, say
research studies or pieces of research. Research is followed by on or into not of. Say, for example, do
research on/into memory loss.
12

Academic Vocabulary in Use

Exercises
2.1

Look at the nouns in A and B opposite and note the prepositions that are associated
with them. Answer the questions.
1 Which preposition often follows the nouns in both A and B?
2 Which preposition is often used before the nouns in A?
3 Which preposition would fill this gap – The postwar period is
paper and will be dealt with in a later study.

2.2

the scope of this

Choose the best noun to complete each sentence.
1
2
3
4
5

Environmental topics / issues / principles should be at the top of today’s political agenda.
In the exam students had to choose three from a choice of ten essay subjects / theories / topics.
There are still people who are reluctant to accept Darwin’s nature / topic / theory of evolution.
The professor decided to take moral courage as the issue / theme / model for his inaugural lecture.
Economists used a model / principle / topic of human behaviour to help them forecast likely
inflation trends.
6 The Peter Issue / Principle / Theme states that members of a hierarchical group will usually end up
being promoted to the point at which they become incompetent.

2.3

Match the beginnings and endings of the sentences.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

2.4

a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h

The study revealed a regular
The research focuses on one particular
The writer makes a powerful
The writers take an original
Until recently there was little
I think you should broaden the
To date, there has been little research
There are many important

scope of your research.
awareness of the problem.
issues facing the world today.
into the environmental effects of nanoparticles.
approach to their theme.
aspect of modern society.
pattern of changes in temperature.
case for restructuring parliament.

Correct the mistakes in the underlined phrases.
1

Recent researches that were carried out for a report by a government agency showed
that local police can play an important role in crime prevention. The report makes 2a
strong case of boosting the numbers of community police officers although it warns against
increasing police presence on the streets to an alarming degree. 3Its methodological was
based on a range of interviews asking members of the public for 4their views in how best
to prevent crime. Unfortunately, how to implement this recommendation was 5out of the
scope of the study but at least it serves a useful purpose in 6raising awareness to the issue.

2.5

These book titles have been rephrased to sound more academic. Complete them using words
from the box.
assessment

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

features

identification

nature

patterns

perspectives

principles

significance

What democracy is really like – The
of Democracy
Why dreams are important – The
of Dreams
What do we see in glaciated landscapes? – The
of Glaciated Landscapes
How to evaluate language skills – The
of Language Skills
Ways in which human behaviour repeats itself –
of Human Behaviour
How to recognise different species of bees – The
of Bees
on Modern Taxation
Thinking about taxation from different angle –
How to make sure that a business is successful – The
of Successful Business

Academic Vocabulary in Use

13

3

Key verbs
Key verbs for structuring academic assignments

A

Look at these tasks which students have been given.
Discuss some of the problems involved1 in
investigating attitudes to diet and health. Write
a critical review of an investigation you have read
about, or describe an investigation you yourself
could conduct2. Consider the advantages and
disadvantages of different methods.
7

Starting from rest, an aircraft accelerates to its take-off
speed of 60 ms-1 in a distance of 900 metres. Illustrate3
this with a velocity-time graph. Assuming4 constant
acceleration, find5 how long the take-off run lasts.
Hence calculate6 the acceleration.

8

9

Examine10 how industrial growth has affected
any two developing countries. Provide11
statistical evidence where necessary and
include a discussion of likely future trends.

1

which are part of/included in 2 organise and do 3 draw something in order to explain something
accepting something to be true 5 discover by calculating (see 6) 6 judge the number or
amount of something by adding, multiplying, subtracting or dividing numbers 7 shows, makes
clear 8 recognise someone or something and say or prove who or what they are
9
questions whether something is true 10 look at or consider carefully and in detail 11 give
4

B

More key verbs
These extracts from academic books contain more key verbs.
In developing methods to explain the significance
of health status measures, one can classify1 ways of
establishing2 quality of life into two main types.
The data presented5 in Chapter 3 showed6 that
the age of the subjects was not the main factor.

The length of time spent on the tasks may account
for3 the decrease in motivation which was seen4
in many of the participants.
Political theory attempts7 to build bridges between
different schools of political thought.

1

divide things into groups according to their type 2 discovering or getting proof
of 3 explain 4 see is often used in the passive in academic style 5 given 6 proved

C

7

tries

Noun forms of key verbs
In academic style, noun forms of key verbs are often used instead of the verbs.
key verb
explain
explore
emphasise
describe
affect
prove

verb + noun form of key verb
give/provide/offer an explanation
(of/for)
undertake / carry out an
exploration (of)
place/put emphasis (on)
give/provide a description (of)
have an effect on
offer/provide proof (that)

example
The model provides an explanation for the differences
between the two sets of data.
Kumar undertook an exploration of music genius.
The hospital puts a lot of emphasis on training.
The book gives a description of modern Europe.
Climate change has an effect on sea levels.
This research offers proof that bees are on the decline.

Common Mistake
Notice the difference in spelling between the verb affect and the noun effect. Don’t confuse them.
The verb to effect means to make something happen. The invention of the world wide web effected
a transformation in global communications.
14

Academic Vocabulary in Use

Exercises
3.1

Match the verbs from A in the box on the left with their synonyms in the box on the right.
affect attempt calculate challenge
demonstrate identify include
investigate provide

3.2

compute distinguish give influence
involve question show study try

Complete the sentences with the correct form of verbs from B opposite.
1 As can
from Table II, participation figures have been steadily falling since 1970.
2 Different authors have
for the President’s actions in different ways.
3 Mendel attempted to devise a system for
the many different types of pea plant that
he grew.
4 It is often most effective to
your data in a chart or table.
5 The data we have collected
that there has been a downward trend with regard to
job satisfaction over the last 50 years.
6 The aim of the research is to
a new software application which will help aviation
engineers design more sophisticated aircraft.
7 The archaeologists should be able to use carbon dating techniques to
exactly how
old the bones are.
8 Charles Darwin
to explain the existence of different species in terms of evolution.

3.3

Explain the difference in meaning between each pair of sentences.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

3.4

A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A

Greig’s article supports Park’s theory.
Describe the new tax regulations.
Lodhi provides new data.
Titova conducted four sets of experiments.
Lee established why such changes occur.
Okaz assumed that the data were reliable.
Illustrate the magnitude of the deceleration.
The events effected economic development.

Greig’s article challenges Park’s theory.
Discuss the new tax regulations.
Lodhi considers new data.
Titova examined four sets of experiments.
Lee investigated why such changes occur.
Okaz proved that the data were reliable.
Find the magnitude of the deceleration.
The events affected economic development.

Rewrite the underlined verbs using nouns from the box.
description

3.5

B
B
B
B
B
B
B
B

emphasis

explanation

exploration

Complete the phrases with the correct noun forms
of the verbs. Use a dictionary if necessary.
1 investigate = conduct, carry out an
into/of
2 illustrate = provide an
of
3 analyse = provide, carry out an
4 affect = have an
on
5 attempt = make an
to/at
6 classify = make, provide a
of

of

Erikson’s (2005) book 1explains the
changing patterns of educational
achievement in children of poorer
families. She 2explores the relationship
between income, family background
and achievement at school and in
further education. The book 3describes
a study carried out in 12 inner-city
neighbourhoods. Erikson’s research
4
emphasises the importance of support
within the home.

Over to you
Using the tasks in A as a model, prepare some assignment topics for students studying any subject
that you are familiar with.

Academic Vocabulary in Use

15

4

Key adjectives
For any key adjective it is useful to note (a) whether it is typically followed by a specific preposition,
(b) what nouns it typically collocates with, (c) whether it has any antonyms (adjectives of opposite
meaning) and (d) whether it has any related nouns.

A

Adjectives and prepositions
Here are some extracts from academic texts, with adjectives followed by to or of.
Some of the responses to the questionnaire were
specific4 to young male respondents. Others
were common to all the respondents.

Language development is conceived as
relative1 to one’s own past performance,
or relative to that of others.

We need to plan technologies which are appropriate5
to the needs of small farmers. It was typical of the
farmers in the study that they had a negative attitude
to technology.

How can we make science relevant2 to
environmental policy? Poor communication between
scientists and politicians is characteristic3 of the
situation today.
1

true to a particular degree when it is being compared with other things connected with what is
happening or being discussed 2 connected with what is happening or being discussed
3
typical of 4 only found in 5 suitable or right for a particular situation or occasion

B

Some key adjectives and their typical noun collocates
There was an apparent1 discrepancy between the two sets of results.
We noted a potential2 problem with the experimental design which we had to deal with first.
The principal3 cause of the failure was a sudden temperature change.
The research used a rigorous4 methodology which had been tested on many occasions.
1

seeming to exist or be true 2 possible when the necessary conditions exist 3 first in order of
importance 4 careful to look at or consider every part of something to make certain it is correct

C

Adjectives and their opposites
Each sentence in this text on drug abuse contains a pair of adjectives which are opposites.
1

3

2

4

5
6

1

existing only as an idea, not as a material object 2 existing in a form that can be seen or felt
using or based on numbers and statistics 4 using non-number-based methods such as
interviews, focus groups, etc. 5 important or noticeable 6 fairly correct but not exact or detailed
3

D

Nouns related to adjectives
Often in academic style, a noun form of the key adjective is used.

16

I admire her simple style.

I admire the simplicity of her style.

These statistics are less relevant.

These statistics have less relevance.

Academic Vocabulary in Use

Exercises
4.1

Use the information in A opposite to correct the mistakes with prepositions in the sentences.
1
2
3
4
5
6

4.2

Complete the sentences with adjective and noun collocates from B opposite.
1
2
3
4

4.3

There is an
in your figures.
Management’s refusal to listen to the workers’ demands was the
of the riots.
Lamaque devised a
for doing research in the field.
We spotted a
with our procedure and so we changed it in two areas.

Replace the underlined adjectives with their opposites.
1
2
3
4
5
6

4.4

A lengthy discussion of the advantages of solar power is not relevant with this essay topic.
It is typical to the disease for it to start with an itchy rash.
This methodology is not appropriate about the kind of research you are planning.
The use of original metaphors is characteristic from the writer’s style.
Relative with previous explanations, this theory is quite persuasive.
Dark hair and eyes are common for all people from the region.

Karlsson checked the figures and agreed with me that they were accurate.
The solution to the problem is a simple one.
Make rough calculations before you begin to write up your results.
The army played a significant role in events.
Hernandez prefers to discuss ideas in abstract terms.
Volkova’s article reports on a fascinating piece of quantitative research.

Complete the sentences with adjectives from the box.
complex

1
2
3
4
5
6

4.5

potential

specific

rough

qualitative

The plant is difficult to grow and needs very
conditions to survive.
His tutor was critical of his work for not being
enough.
In the past the northern tribes looked on the tribes of the south as
enemies.
We chose a
approach to our research and interviewed individuals personally.
A
set of circumstances led to a civil war in 1897.
The
estimates that we made turned out to be surprisingly accurate.

Complete the table with nouns formed from the adjectives. Use a dictionary if necessary.
adjective
appropriate
significant
precise

4.6

rigorous

noun

adjective
complex
accurate
rigorous

noun

Rewrite the underlined words using nouns formed from the adjectives.
1
2
3
4
5
6

The professor praised Carla for her rigorous work. The professor praised Carla for the rigour of her work.
The slight discrepancy in the two sets of figures is not significant.
The complex language used by the poet makes his work difficult to interpret.
You must be precise when taking measurements.
The later part of the book will be more relevant for next year’s course.
The tutor was pleased with how simple and appropriate our research proposal was.

Over to you
When you come across a key adjective from this unit in your reading, note it down in a phrase so you
build up a set of useful phrases using the adjective.

Academic Vocabulary in Use

17

5
A

Key adverbs
Adverbs that compare
adverb
comparatively/relatively
especially/particularly

meaning
in comparison with
something else
more than usual

specially
somewhat (opposite:
considerably)
primarily

for a specific purpose
(slightly formal) rather, to
some degree
mainly

mostly/largely

almost completely (but not
totally so)
without anything else
being involved

directly (opposite: indirectly)

B

example
Our sample was relatively/comparatively
small.
The process was not especially/particularly
difficult.
We used specially designed equipment.
The second experiment involved a
somewhat/considerably larger sample.
The article is primarily concerned with the
effects of pesticides.
The project was largely/mostly successful.
The illness is (in)directly linked to poor
housing.

Adverbs that relate to numbers or time
There are approximately 20,000 pairs of birds on the island. [around, about]
The figure of 17% is roughly equivalent to the decline in population in the north of the country from
1980 to 2010. [more or less]
The phenomenon occurs relatively frequently/infrequently. [often/not often]
We eventually obtained the figures we were hoping for, which were precisely the same as those
found by Rosenberg (2008). [in the end, after some time; completely and accurately]
Ultimately, we plan to repeat the study using exactly
the same number of informants. [finally, after other
things have been completed. Exactly is similar to
precisely, but is more often used to refer to numbers]
The team initially failed to establish the cause
of the death of the whales. [in the early stages]

C

Common Mistake
Eventually means ‘after some time’. Use
finally or lastly when beginning the last point
in a discussion. Finally/Lastly, let us consider
the impact of tourism on local cultures.

Adverbs that relate to how things are stated
Hall’s 1968 book essentially1 differs from his earlier work in that it is explicitly2 critical of the
government of the time. Generally3 his disapproval of government was only conveyed implicitly4 in
his previous works, but here he specifically5 condemns their handling of a number of issues. The
1968 work is more broadly6 in line with other political commentaries of the period.
1
4
5

D

referring to its main characteristics; also basically 2 openly 3 usually, also on the whole
not directly, suggested or implied rather than stated; opposite of explicitly
in particular; opposite of generally 6 in general, without considering minor details

Adverbs that restrict or limit
merely The medication will merely make the symptoms bearable; it will not cure the disease.
[exactly and nothing more]
simply Note that simply can have different meanings. To put it simply, the risks of this approach
would seem to outweigh its advantages. [plainly] The book presents difficult ideas simply, in a way
appropriate for the non-expert. [easily] The exam results were simply dreadful. [without doubt]
solely Certain events are solely confined to our planet. [only, involving nothing else]

18

Academic Vocabulary in Use

Exercises
5.1

Use the information in A and B opposite to explain the difference in meaning between
each pair of sentences.
1 A
B
2 A
B
3 A
B
4 A
B
5 A
B

5.2

Heinrich’s experiments were mostly criticised on ethical grounds.
Heinrich’s experiments were particularly criticised on ethical grounds.
The results were somewhat surprising given the circumstances.
The results were especially surprising given the circumstances.
First-year students are directly affected by the new rules relating to tuition fees.
First-year students are particularly affected by the new rules relating to tuition fees.
The study was primarily concerned with urban alienation.
The study was ultimately concerned with urban alienation.
The team eventually obtained unpredicted results.
The team frequently obtained unpredicted results.

Use the information in C and D opposite to choose the best adverbs to complete the text.
What you are saying is 1essentially / merely true. To put it 2basically / simply, there is
implicitly / basically no significant difference between the two writers’ theories. However,
one of them writes in a 4simply / solely dreadful style while the other has a style that is
5
eventually / generally very impressive.
3

5.3

Replace the underlined adverbs with their opposites from the box. Use each adverb in
the box only once.
roughly

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

5.4

generally

exactly

indirectly

implicitly

eventually

infrequently

precisely

There were roughly 350 people living in the village in 1958.
Floods happen frequently in this part of the country.
We investigated the problem and initially found some small errors in the calculations.
The temperature was exactly half a degree lower than the average.
Singh (1998) explicitly criticises existing theories of economic growth.
Soil erosion is specifically caused by water or wind.
The new results were broadly the same as the previous ones.
The disease is directly linked to environmental factors.

Underline the adverbs in the texts. Then answer the questions.
Marine conservationists are currently attempting
to save the world’s coral reefs. One plan is to
literally glue the damaged reefs back together,
using coral artificially raised in underwater
laboratories. Reefs are increasingly under attack
from human activity as well as from events
which occur naturally, such as hurricanes and
tsunamis. A recent UN report warns that 30%
of the world’s coral reefs have been completely
destroyed or are severely damaged.

Scientists have recently discovered that ants can
remember how many steps they have taken. By
carefully shortening or lengthening the legs of
ants, the team observed that short-legged ants
apparently became lost and could not easily find
their way home to the nest. Similarly, ants with
longer legs typically travelled 50% further than
they needed to and were also temporarily unable
to find the nest. It seems ants can definitely count
their steps.

1 Which adverb means ‘in the same way’?
2 Find two pairs of adverbs that mean the opposite of
each other.
3 Which adverb means ‘a short time ago’?
4 Which adverb means ‘more and more’?
5 Which adverb could be substituted by seriously?
6 Which adverb means ‘for a limited time’?

Over to you
Find an interesting article in your
discipline and underline all the key
adverbs. Then check that you understand
their meaning.
Academic Vocabulary in Use

19

6

Phrasal verbs in academic English
Although phrasal verbs occur most frequently in more informal spoken and written English, they are
also not uncommon in an academic context. You will hear them used in lectures and will read them
in serious journals. Of the phrasal verbs in this unit, only go/look back over and work out are not
appropriate for a formal written assignment.

A

Phrasal verbs and one-word synonyms
Phrasal verbs often have one-word synonyms. These sound more formal than their phrasal verb
equivalent but both are appropriate when writing or talking about academic subjects. Vary your
language by using both.
phrasal verb
put forward (an idea/view/opinion/
theory/plan)
carry out (an experiment / research)
make up

synonym
present

be made up of
point out

consist of
observe

point up

highlight

set out (to do something)
set out
go into

aim
describe
discuss

go/look back over
go through

revise, review *
check

conduct
constitute

example
In her latest article Kaufmann puts forward a
theory which is likely to prove controversial.
I intend to carry out a series of experiments.
Children under the age of 15 make up nearly half
of the country’s population.
Parliament is made up of two houses.
Grenne points out that the increase in life
expectancy has led to some economic problems.
The study points up the weaknesses in the current
school system.
In his article Losanov sets out to prove that …
The document sets out the terms of the treaty.
In this book Sergeant goes into the causes
of the Civil War in some depth.
Please go/look back over this term’s notes.
Go through your calculations carefully.

*Revise is the BrE synonym and review the AmE synonym. (Revise in AmE only means to edit or
change something to make it better; review is not used in BrE in the context of preparing for a test
as focused on here.)

B

Carrying out research
After completing her first degree in zoology Meena went on to1
apply to graduate school. She wanted to work on2 animal behaviour
at a well-known institute in New Zealand. She set up3 a series of
experiments investigating how bees communicate. She has noticed
some curious behaviour patterns but has not yet worked out4 why
her bees behave as they do. What she has observed seems to go
against5 current theories of bee behaviour. When she has completed
all her research she will have to write it all up6.
1

do something after doing something else 2 study, work in the field of 3 prepared, arranged
come to a conclusion about 5 not be in agreement with 6 (of an important document) write
in a final form
4

Language help
Consult a good dictionary when you use phrasal verbs in your writing. For example, a good dictionary
tells you when the object can be used before the particle (e.g. write your results up) and when it
cannot (e.g. this goes against current theories).

20

Academic Vocabulary in Use

Exercises
6.1

Rewrite the underlined words using phrasal verbs from A opposite.
1 We conducted a series of experiments to test out our hypothesis.
2 Before the test you should revise Chapters 7 and 8 of your textbooks.
3 In his article on the American Civil War Kingston discusses the reasons why the situation
developed in the way it did.
4 Cole presents some fascinating theories on the development of language in his latest book.
5 The psychologist observed that it was very unusual for a young child to behave in this way.
6 Please check your work carefully before handing it in.
7 Simpson’s book aims to prove that the Chinese reached America long before the Vikings.
8 Women now constitute over half the student population in universities in this country.

6.2

Complete the paragraph with the missing words.

As part of my MA I’ve been researching language acquisition.
I’ve been working 1
how young children learn their
mother tongue. I’ve been carrying 2
experiments to
see how much reading to young children affects their language
development. I’ve had a great supervisor who has helped me set
3
my experiments and she’s also pointed
4
lots of interesting things in my data that I hadn’t
noticed myself. I’m busy writing my work 5
now
and I think I should be able to put 6
some useful
ideas. It’s been really fascinating and I hope I may be able to
go 7
to do a doctorate in the same field although I
certainly never set 8
to do a PhD.

6.3

Match the beginnings and endings of the sentences.
1
2
3
4
5
6

6.4

Feudal society was made
Carlson was the first to put
Her results appear to go
The investigation pointed
It took him a long time to work
The geography book sets

a
b
c
d
e
f

forward a convincing theory with regard to this question.
up the flaws in the school’s testing methods.
out the solution to the algebra problem.
out a lot of basic information about all the world’s countries.
against what she had found in her earlier studies.
up of clearly defined classes of people.

Complete the collocations for the phrasal verbs. Choose nouns relevant in an academic
context. Use a dictionary if necessary.
1 to carry out

research

4 to point up

2 to write up

5 to go through

3 to put forward

6 to set up

Over to you
Look through an article on an academic subject that interests you. Copy out any sentences that you
find using phrasal verbs. If there is a one-word synonym for the phrasal verb, make a note of it too.

Academic Vocabulary in Use

21

7

Key quantifying expressions
Quantifying expressions are important in academic English as it is often necessary to comment on
figures or trends. There is more useful language for talking about numbers in Units 33 and 34.

A

Expressing numbers and amounts
We use amount with uncountable nouns: a large amount of money/interest/influence.
We use number with plural countable nouns: a small number of articles/books/words.
The words number and amount can be used with adjectives such as small, considerable,
substantial, significant, huge, enormous, vast, total, surprising, excessive [too much/many], fair
[quite a lot] and reasonable [acceptable].
We can also use the phrase a great deal of [a large amount of] with uncountable nouns: a great deal
of time/money/effort.

B

Other ways of expressing quantity
The size of our survey was relatively small-scale1. We sent out 2,500 questionnaires
in total2. Although a handful3 of people did not respond, the bulk4 (95%) of those
sent questionnaires completed them. The survey shows that, for the most part5, the
population is becoming more aware of the importance of recycling. All of the people
said that they recycled at least some of their rubbish, and none of them felt that
recycling was a waste of time. Only one of the respondents said that he recycled less
than he used to.
1
4

only involving a small number 2 in all 3 a relatively very small number
the majority 5 as regards the greatest number

Common Mistake
Notice how respondents is in the plural. We use a plural noun after one of: one of our surveys.
But we use a singular verb: One of our surveys was reported on local radio.

C

Comparing numbers and quantities
expression
exceeding
in excess of
fewer and
fewer / less
and less
more and
more
more or less
no fewer than

22

example
Results exceeding 5 cm were eliminated from the
survey.
The team has secured research grants in excess of
€20m.
Fewer and fewer people are staying in the same job
throughout their lives. Young people are becoming less
and less interested in politics.
There is more and more interest in the topic.
People are becoming more and more aware of the
need to conserve energy.
The events happened more or less simultaneously.
No fewer than 200 people responded.

Academic Vocabulary in Use

comment
more than
more than, used mainly in
official or legal writing
a steadily declining/decreasing
number of, decreasingly
a steadily increasing amount of,
increasingly
(slightly informal) approximately
used to suggest the number was
unexpectedly large

Exercises
7.1

Complete the sentences using the correct form of the word in brackets.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7

In a
number of cases, there was no reaction at all to the drug. (SURPRISE)
The analysis demanded an
amount of computer time. (EXCEED)
numbers of birds inhabit the lake during the winter. (CONSIDER)
The course requires a
amount of prior knowledge. (REASON)
The survey took a
amount of research time and costs were high. (SUBSTANCE)
The two dams can hold in
of two cubic kilometres of water. (EXCEED)
In
, 12 areas of the Southern Indian Ocean are now closed to deep-sea fishing.
(TOTALITY)
8 Only a
of students chose the course, so it was cancelled. (HAND)
9 No
than 2,000 new computer viruses are created every year. (FEW)
10 In a
number of cases, surface damage was noticed. (SIGNIFY)

7.2

Choose the correct words to complete the paragraph.
1

A vast amount of / A huge number of money was spent on the project. From the outset,
a huge amount of / a substantial number of time was wasted waiting for laboratory
facilities to be provided by the university. Meanwhile, 3a small number of / a huge number
of dedicated employees (just five) struggled with trying to get the project off the ground.
4
A significant number of / An enormous amount of information had to be gathered and
processed before the first experiments could be designed. One of the 5result / results of the
delays 6has been / have been a decline in the number of applicants for research posts on
the project.
2

7.3

Replace the underlined words with their opposites. Make any other necessary changes.
There have been a 1small number of studies investigating the impact of email on interpersonal
communications. 2None of the studies has been 3large-scale but they suggest some interesting
trends in patterns of email use. From one of the studies it seems that 4fewer and fewer people
send over 50 emails daily. Moreover, it appears that a 5substantial number of senior citizens
use email a lot more frequently than younger people do.

7.4

Read the text and answer the questions. Use a dictionary if necessary.
For some years now, scientists have been using a powerful new machine to recreate the
conditions that existed at the birth of the universe. The machine generates a massive
number of hot, dense, bursts of matter and energy, simulating what happened in the first
few microseconds of the beginning of the universe. After no more than ten microseconds,
the particles of matter joined together, like water freezing, forming the origin of more or less
everything we see in the universe today.
1
2
3
4
5

Which expression explains how long scientists have been using this machine?
Which expression tells us how many bursts of matter and energy the machine generates?
Which time period does the machine simulate?
Which expression states how long it was before the particles of matter joined together?
Which expression in the last sentence means approximately?

Over to you
Find five quantifying expressions from one of your textbooks and use them to write your own
sentences.

Academic Vocabulary in Use

23

8
A

Words with several meanings
Set
Many words in English have more than one meaning. Set, for example, has a large number of
different meanings. Here are some examples which are relevant to academic English.
a) (verb) adjust something to a particular level: Set the instruments to zero.
b) (verb) establish: I would like to set some ground rules for the course.
c) (verb) cause to be in a stated condition: The decision set a number of changes in motion.
d) (verb) arrange: We must set a time for our next meeting.
e) (verb) become solid: Concrete sets as it cools.
f) (noun) group: The condition is associated with a particular set of symptoms.
g) (adjective) that must be studied: We have a number of set texts to read for our course.

B

Academic uses for familiar words
These words have a distinct academic meaning as well as more familiar meanings.
word
accommodate
(verb)
charge (verb)
contract (verb)
occur (verb)
reference
(noun)
revolution
(noun)
structure
(noun)

C

academic meaning
change to allow something to fit in

example
He had to adapt his theory to
accommodate new information.
refresh the supply of electricity
You need to charge the batteries every day.
become smaller, shorten
As the metal cools, it contracts.
exist
Some valuable minerals occur in these rocks.
details of author or book mentioned in a piece
You must provide a list of references at the
of writing, to show where information was found end of your assignment.
complete turn (e.g. of a wheel)
Time is measured by the revolution of the
earth around the sun.
way in which parts of a system or object are
The structure of this element is particularly
organised or arranged
complex.

Words with several different academic uses
Many academic words have distinct meanings in different disciplines. Channel, for example,
has specific meanings in electronics, linguistics, biology, physics, social sciences and geography
[e.g. channels of communication, irrigation channels, government channels, to channel
something]. So you will, of course, need a specific dictionary for your own subject.
Other words have several distinct meanings that are important in general academic English.
The writer takes issue with Kwame’s interpretation. [raises arguments against]
In your essay you need to address a number of key issues. [topics]
Have you seen the latest issue of the Malaysian Medical Journal? [edition]
Jackson raises some important points in his article. [opinions, ideas, information]
The writer takes a long time to get to the point. [most significant part]
Only 10.2 [ten point two] per cent of the people who received questionnaires responded.
Draw a straight line between points A and B on the map. [mark showing the position of
something on a plan or diagram]

Language help
If you come across a word that you know but it does not seem to make sense in that context, check
to see whether it has another distinct meaning. If it does, write it down with both (or all) its meanings
in your vocabulary notebook.
24

Academic Vocabulary in Use

Exercises
8.1

Match the uses of set in the sentences with the meanings a–g in A opposite.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7

8.2

Before we start you must all set your watches to precisely the same time.
Professors will set a date for the submission of assignments relating to their own courses.
We expected the mixture to set quickly but it had not hardened by the morning.
Before leaving the area, the retreating army set the farm buildings on fire.
The engine’s performance has set a new fuel consumption record.
During the first semester, music students have to study a number of set pieces.
There are a whole set of issues that you should address in your essays.

Complete the sentences with the correct form of words from B opposite.
1 When you are doing research, you must keep good records of your
as it can be
difficult to locate sources later.
2 This medical condition is most likely to
in fair-skinned people.
3 Engine speed can be measured in
per minute.
4 Hope, the theme of the anthology, is general enough to
a variety of approaches.
5 The
of society in Ancient Rome has parallels with that of the modern USA.
6 The experiment was designed to discover whether gold
or expanded under
different conditions.

8.3

Complete each set of phrases with the same word.
/ underline the key

1 discuss the following
2 to
3 take

a precedent / a
with / the current

4 to

your energies into / a

5 the French
science

8.4

/ the

/ make some insightful

book / a
of exercises
of the New Scientist / a controversial
of communication / an irrigation
of the earth around the sun / a

in

The text contains some more words that have distinct academic meanings. Use a dictionary
to check the meaning of the underlined words. What other meanings can each word have?

A simulator showing how outbreaks of infection might spread around the
world would be of great assistance in the struggle to contain such diseases.
Researchers maintain that to effectively check emerging infectious diseases,
they need a significant amount of computing power. A global epidemic simulator
would mimic climate simulators which monitor the movement of weather
systems. It would record when disease outbreaks occur, where they are heading
and, crucially, would allow scientists to test out virtual mitigation measures to
assess which might perform best on the ground.

8.5

Jokes are often based on words having several meanings. Explain this joke.
A neutron goes into a bar, orders a drink and asks how
much it will be. The barman replies: ‘For you, sir, no charge.’

Academic Vocabulary in Use

25

9

Metaphors and idioms
A metaphor is an expression which describes something by comparing it to something else with
similar characteristics. For example, you might say an academic ‘attacks’ or ‘demolishes’ someone’s
theory or argument, just as an army can attack an enemy or workers can demolish a building.
If a metaphor is used so often that the original comparison becomes forgotten, then it may be called
an idiom. For example, people often say, ‘I’m snowed under with work at the moment.’ Originally this
was a metaphor comparing a great deal of work to deep snow (overwhelming everything and making
movement difficult). However, this expression has been used so frequently that it no longer usually
makes people think of snow. Academic English uses various metaphors and idioms.

A

Metaphors and idioms referring to light and darkness
Data from the comet may shed (new) light on / shine a (new) light on1 how life on earth began.
Views on depression have changed in (the) light of2 recent studies of the brain.
Novelists, poets and essayists often refer to historical events to illuminate3 their understanding of
human behaviour.
The book provides an illuminating discussion of how languages change.
The report revealed the glaring4 discrepancy between patients’ needs and what the health service
can offer them, and highlighted5 the need for a new approach.
Researchers remain in the dark6 about what can ensure successful recovery from drug addiction.
The book dealt with economic policy in the shadow of7 the Civil War of 1994–1999.
1

provide a clearer explanation for it 2 because of 3 show more clearly something that is difficult
to understand 4 something bad that is very obvious (to glare means to shine too brightly)
5
emphasised something important 6 continue in a state of not knowing something
7
in a situation where something bad has happened or is happening

B

Metaphors and idioms referring to war and conflict
Look at these extracts from lectures and note the metaphors and idioms.

Critics opposed to D. H. Lawrence attacked his
novels on various grounds. But despite the apparent
diversity of opinion, Lawrence’s critics were united
on what they saw as several serious problems.

It’s useful at the present time to look at Japan’s
experience in the battle against air pollution,
and it’s a battle no nation can afford to lose.

In the 19th century, travellers in the
region were especially vulnerable to
the onslaught of3 tropical diseases.

Children have been bombarded with4
increasing amounts of violence in the media. But
campaigners have recently scored a victory5 with
tighter regulations now going through Parliament.

Following a barrage1 of hostile criticism, in his later works we
see the artist becoming increasingly detached from the material
world, retreating2 more into his own mind than before.
1
2
5

Parents and teachers need to
maintain a united front6 on the
question of bad conduct at school.

action of firing large guns continuously, here meaning a great many criticisms all at once
going back to escape from attacks 3 a very powerful attack 4 forced to experience, subjected to
won a battle 6 remain united in their opinions and agree on how to act

Language help
Make notes of metaphors and idioms in your vocabulary notebook and group them together into
themes such as ‘war’, ‘light’, ‘temperature and weather’, and so on.
26

Academic Vocabulary in Use

Exercises
9.1

Complete the sentences with the correct form of the words in the box.
remain

glare

illuminating

shadow

highlight

shed

illuminate

shine

light

1 The results of the investigation have
a light on the pressures of the global economy
on farmers in developing countries.
2 Until recently, scientists have
in the dark as to the causes of the disease, but a
recent breakthrough promises to
new light on the problem.
3 Our whole notion of time and space has changed in the
of recent developments in
physics.
4 Professor Delrio gave a very
talk on one of Shakespeare’s later plays .
5 These communities have lived for decades in the
of poverty and social deprivation.
6 The team carried out a series of experiments in an attempt to
the mysterious
processes at work in the organism.
7 The collapse of the bridge in 1998
the need for a more rigorous analysis of the
effects of constant traffic movements.
8 The professor found some
errors in one student’s calculations.

9.2

Rewrite the underlined phrases using metaphors of conflict from B opposite.
1 Scientists who don’t agree with this theory have recently attacked its basic assumptions.
2 Governments need to remain in complete agreement on the issue of economic migrants.
3 Nowadays, we are forced to see advertisements every time we watch TV or visit our favourite
websites.
4 In the face of counter-arguments, several economists have recently moved away from the view
that economic processes cannot be altered.
5 The efforts against crime will fail without police and community cooperation.
6 Many traditional rural societies and cultures have been destroyed by the sudden powerful impact
of urbanisation.
7 Following a great number all at once of hostile questions from reporters, the Minister suddenly
ended the press conference and left the room.
8 Parents recently won a battle by forcing the city council to reduce speed limits near schools.

9.3

Read the text and underline key words and phrases which construct the main metaphor:
‘the human brain is a computer’.

Shutting down Alzheimer’s
The human brain is a remarkably complex organic computer, taking in a wide variety of sensory
experiences, processing and storing this information, and recalling and integrating selected bits
at the right moments. The destruction caused by Alzheimer’s disease has been likened to the
erasure of a hard drive, beginning with the most recent files and working backward. As the illness
progresses, old as well as new memories gradually disappear until even loved ones are no longer
recognized. Unfortunately, the computer analogy breaks down: one cannot simply reboot the
human brain and reload the files and programs. The problem is that Alzheimer’s does not only
erase information; it destroys the very hardware of the brain, which is composed of more than 100
billion nerve cells (neurons), with 100 trillion connections among them.

Over to you
Look at some of the textbooks you use. Can you find any examples of metaphors or idioms there
relating to light and darkness or war and conflict? What other types of metaphors or idioms have
you noticed in your subject area?
Academic Vocabulary in Use

27

10

Nouns and the words they combine with
Nouns often combine with specific adjectives, for example medical research, undivided attention or
with specific verbs, for example carry out research, pay attention.

A

Nouns and the adjectives they combine with
adjective + noun combinations
useful, valuable, personal, constant, close, frequent,
intermittent1 contact
considerable, heated2, intense, public, animated3
debate
crucial, decisive, fundamental element [=factor]
conflicting, contrasting, constituent4 elements [=parts]
excess, sufficient, nuclear energy
common, isolated, natural, recent, universal
phenomenon
conflicting, (in)conclusive, unforeseen5, preliminary6,
encouraging, interim7 results
decisive, challenging, conflicting, influential, key,
pivotal8 role
random, representative sample
alternative, efficient, fair, practical, convenient, proper,
acceptable way
in absolute, broad, relative, general, practical,
economic terms
1
5

B

from time to time 2 strong, often angry 3 lively
not expected 6 first 7 temporary 8 important

example
I made some useful contacts at the conference.
After the lecture there was a heated debate.
Timing is a crucial element of the experiment.
There are conflicting elements in the artist’s work.
Wind turbines create sufficient energy for the
town’s needs.
Such anti-social behaviour is a recent phenomenon.
Our preliminary results were encouraging.
Student activists played a pivotal role in the riot.
A representative sample of the population was
surveyed.
It is important to treat your research subjects in a
fair way.
People are better off in economic terms.
4

that combine to make something

Nouns and the verbs they combine with
Most of the nouns in the table above are also strongly associated with specific verbs.
You can come into contact with someone or something or you can establish, maintain, break off
or lose contact.
Academics may engage in debate or contribute to a debate. You talk about the debate
surrounding an issue.
You can combine, differentiate or discern [recognise] the elements of, for example, a chemical
compound.
You consume [use], conserve, generate [create], save or waste energy.
Phenomena emerge or occur and students will try to observe, investigate and then explain those
phenomena.
Academics collect, collate [organise] and publish their results. Sometimes results are questioned
or invalidated [shown to be wrong]. Occasionally they are even falsified!
Roles may be defined or strengthened. People or factors can play a role or take on a role.
You can take, provide or analyse a sample.
You can discover, devise [think up], work out or develop a way to do something.

Language help
Whenever you notice a noun that seems to be key as far as your own studies are concerned, write it
down with the adjectives and verbs it is typically associated with.
28

Academic Vocabulary in Use

Exercises
10.1

Look at the adjective and noun combinations in A opposite. Answer the questions.
1 Put these types of contact in order of frequency – frequent, constant, intermittent.
2 If two of the four constituent elements of most language exams are reading and speaking,
what are the other two?
3 Which adjective suggests more energy than the other – excess or sufficient energy?
4 Which adjective describes the opposite of a common phenomenon?
5 Would you be pleased if you did some research and got inconclusive results?
6 What adjective other than key can be used with role to give a similar meaning?
7 Can you name three people who play an influential role in a child’s development?
8 Which of these is a representative sample and which is a random sample: a sample chosen
by chance, a sample chosen as typical of the population as a whole?

10.2

Complete the sentences with the correct form of verbs from B opposite.
1 I first
into contact with Abdul when I started my doctoral research in 2007.
2 The country
so much energy that we don’t
enough to meet
all our needs.
3 The space race
an important role in post-war politics.
4 In her research project Diana
the phenomenon of extra-sensory perception
but she was not able to come to any significant conclusions.
5 Although Hans’s rivals attempted to
his results, they met with no success.
6 Green’s poetry successfully
elements from a number of different traditions.

10.3

Match the beginnings and endings of the sentences.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

10.4

It took the team a long time to devise
During the war we had to break
There has been a lot of heated debate
Ian Hartmann was invited to take on
Part of my role was to collate
The doctor wanted me to provide
Scientists all over the world contributed
A new and unexpected phenomenon
Using shading helps to differentiate

a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i

surrounding the issue of global warming.
a blood sample for analysis.
the role of project leader.
to the debate on cloning.
off contact with colleagues abroad.
seems to be emerging.
the key elements in a graph.
a way to solve their problem.
the results of our experiments.

Complete the sentences using words from the box.
conflicting heated publish crucial interim random define maintaining
natural discern occurs engaging acceptable taking practical

1
2
3
4
5
6

She obtained her results by
a
sample of the population.
Before we go any further we must
each of our roles more precisely.
We must decide what is an
way to proceed, in
terms.
The group succeeded in
contact long after they had all left college.
My trip to Africa was the
element in my decision to work in conservation.
Specialists in the field of bio-engineering have been
in
debate on this issue for some time.
7 I am told that Smythe is about to
some
results. The final
results won’t be available until next year.
8 Professor Powell was able to
some
elements in different
accounts of the incident.
9 Lightning is a
phenomenon which
most frequently in the
tropics.

Academic Vocabulary in Use

29

11

Adjective and noun combinations
Noun phrases are an important feature of academic style. This unit focuses on a number of adjective
+ noun combinations which are particularly frequent in academic English.

A

Adjectives suggesting importance
adjective
important

central

comment
significant can convey the same
meaning and both adjectives often
go with these nouns
the opposite, minor, also often goes
with these nouns
means main or most important

particular

means special

major

B

frequently combines with …
aspect, contribution, difference(s), implications, point,
question, reason, element
role, changes, problem, factor, issue, concern, difference,
theme, contribution, point
role, theme, issue, question, concern, feature, focus,
element, problem, argument
interest, attention, significance, importance, concern

Adjectives suggesting amount/extent
adjective
significant
enormous /
considerable

vast
widespread
common*

comment
large in size
enormous can mean very large or very
important; considerable means large or
of noticeable importance (i.e. slightly less
strong than enormous)
means extremely big
means that something happens in many
places or among many people
means that something is normal or
frequent and found on many occasions

frequently combines with …
increase, effect, reduction, number, proportion
amount, expansion, number, range, diversity,
difference, variation, extent, degree, impact,
power, influence, significance, interest
majority, array, amount, range, quantity/
quantities, sums, scale, improvement
belief, acceptance, support, opposition,
assumption, use
experience, practice, use, concern, problem,
view

*Common can also mean ‘shared’ and as such it combines with knowledge, ground [areas of
interest], feature, interest, e.g. There is much common ground between the two writers.

C

Other useful adjective and noun combinations
Specific means relating to one thing and not to things in general. It often combines with context,
information, case, type, form, purpose, characteristics, conditions, example. For example, The reaction
occurs only under specific conditions.
Inevitable is often used with words relating to results or changes such as consequence, outcome,
collapse, decline, conflict, effect, developments. [unavoidable]
Explicit combines with words relating to how things are presented, e.g. reference, statement,
comparison, account, mention. [clear and exact, communicated directly]
Relevant combines with words relating to evidence of different types, e.g. data, documents,
information, details, factors. [connected with what is being discussed]

D

Adjectives and prepositional phrases
A feature of academic writing is that it often uses the noun form of an adjective in a prepositional
phrase beginning with of, instead of just using an adjective.
Sagan’s contribution is of particular significance. (= particularly significant)
Helvena’s work is of great interest to researchers. (= very interesting)
This is a work of considerable importance. (= very important)

30

Academic Vocabulary in Use

Exercises
11.1

Choose the best adjective to complete each statement about an academic.
1 Davison did a considerable / an important amount of research into earthquake prediction.
2 Rawlinson drew significant / particular attention to the problem of energy consumption.
3 The central / major argument of Parry’s book is that work can be organised in a variety of ways,
some more efficient than others.
4 Werner’s work had a widespread / an enormous impact on the way we design bridges today.
5 An important / A significant proportion of Thomaz’s work was devoted to international law.
Three of her five books were on the subject.
6 Prestyn made only a minor / particular contribution to modern psychology, but it was an
interesting one, nonetheless.
7 Baklov’s work has some extremely important / central implications for our work today.
8 Mortensen’s work has played a central / vast role in changing attitudes to parenthood.

11.2

Rewrite the underlined words and phrases using adjective and noun combinations.
1 There is opposition among students in many places to the idea of longer semesters.

There is widespread opposition among students to the idea of longer semesters.
2 Destruction of the riverbank will cause a decline which is bound to happen in the numbers of
small mammals.
3 School standards are a concern which occurs frequently among parents nowadays.
4 Nowhere in the article does the author make mention in a direct, clear and exact way of the 20
cases which were never resolved.
5 There is very little ground which is shared between the two ways of addressing the problem.
6 The paper is too general and lacks examples which relate only to individual things.
7 The work covers an extremely big array of themes from Asian political history.

11.3

Complete the table with the noun forms of the adjectives. Use a dictionary if necessary.
adjective
significant
relevant
interesting
frequent

11.4

noun

adjective
important
valuable
useful
broad

noun

Look at the examples of prepositional phrases in D opposite. Rewrite the underlined words
using prepositional phrases. Use adjectives from the box and appropriate nouns.
huge

high

enormous

great

considerable

1 Johnson’s work is very relevant for any student of medical engineering.

Johnson’s work is of great relevance for any student of medical engineering.
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

The research will be very valuable to anyone interested in economic planning.
It was an event which was terribly important in the history of Latin American politics.
Partich’s book is an extremely broad work.
Sorlan’s book was a very significant work in the development of political theory.
This software will be quite useful in the analysis of large amounts of numerical data.
The method outlined is very interesting to anyone investigating sleeplessness.
‘You know’ is an expression which is very frequent in informal spoken English.
DNA evidence is centrally important.

Academic Vocabulary in Use

31

12
A

Verbs and the words they combine with
How verbs combine with other words
When you learn verbs in an academic context, it is useful to note a number of things about them.
Do they combine with any nouns, and does the noun go before or after the verb, for example,
the research / theory is based on, to pose a problem / question / threat?
Do they combine with any adverbs, for example, mainly / partly / loosely based on?
Are they followed by any prepositions, for example, to base something on something else?
Are they often used in the passive, for example, be based on, be associated with?
verb
base (on)

nouns
research, theory,
story, hypothesis

associate
(with)

word, idea, theory,
term

discuss

establish

B

adverbs
mainly, partly
loosely

generally,
commonly,
invariably
idea, problem, issue, at length, briefly,
thoroughly
question, topic,
theme
relationship,
firmly, clearly,
connection
conclusively

examine

facts, evidence,
effects, aspects

briefly, critically,
thoroughly

demonstrate

existence, need,
effects, importance

clearly,
convincingly

identify
(with) (often
used in
passive)

causes, factors,
issues, properties,
needs, approach,
origin

correctly, clearly,
closely

examples
The story was loosely based on a true event
which occurred in 1892.
The theory is mainly based on the writer’s initial
study.
A decrease in consumer spending is generally
associated with fears of instability. The word is
commonly associated with youth culture.
Wilson and Crick (1965) discuss the problem
at length. Sim’s article discusses the issue
thoroughly.
Geologists have been unable to firmly establish a
connection between the two types of fossils.
Lopez conclusively establishes a relationship
between the two phenomena.
We shall now briefly examine the evidence
for the existence of dark matter. Our aim is to
thoroughly examine the effects of stress.
The study clearly demonstrates the importance
of support for dementia sufferers.
Harvey’s work convincingly demonstrates the
need for a new approach to the problem.
This approach is closely identified with the work
of H. Crowley during the 1950s. The article clearly
identifies the factors influencing the decision to
go to war.

More verbs in combination with nouns, adverbs and prepositions
pose: This inevitably poses a question concerning the stability of society. Parks poses a challenge
to Kahn’s theory.
suggest: The most recent results strongly suggest a different interpretation of the situation.
The article suggests a new approach to the problem.
list: Here I simply list the main hypotheses / causes / features / characteristics; they will be
examined in detail below.
refer: The book refers frequently / specifically / in passing to the 1956 economic crisis.
observe: This is due to the changes / trends / differences we observed earlier.

Common Mistake
Remember we say based on NOT based in.
We say discuss a problem / an issue NOT discuss about a problem

32

Academic Vocabulary in Use

Exercises
12.1

Choose the most appropriate adverb for each underlined verb, and add it to the sentence
in the correct place.
1 Paulson’s research demonstrated the need for a new approach to the study of stress.
(invariably convincingly closely)
2 As was observed, there is a strong correlation between house prices and inflation.
(closely critically earlier)
3 In the study of languages, ‘tense’ refers to the coding of time in form of the verb.
(specifically strongly briefly)
4 Classical liberal economics is identified with the theories of Milton Friedman.
(thoroughly closely conclusively)
5 Chapter 1 discusses the main issues, but they are dealt with in detail in Chapter 2.
(closely simply briefly)
6 To date, no research exists that establishes a connection between behaviour, personality
traits, and leadership traits.
(firmly thoroughly critically)
7 SENTA is a computer programming language based on Logo.
(strongly slightly loosely)
8 Social research techniques were applied to examine the effects of the policy on the poor.
(strongly mainly critically)

12.2

Complete the sentences with suitable nouns. There may be more than one possible answer.
1 Here we list again the main
of the present study and show which have been
proven and which have been rejected.
2 The graph enables us to observe recent broad
in mortality rates.
3 The researchers concluded that it is still difficult to identify the
of the timerelated changes in human beings that we call ageing.
4 A seminar was held to discuss the
of children’s rights in the light of the
Convention on the Rights of the Child.
5 Wu demonstrated the
for a comprehensive plan in preparation for a pandemic.

12.3

Cross out the one noun which does not fit in each sentence. Use a dictionary if necessary.
1 These figures lead me to suggest an alternative theory / solution / importance / interpretation.
2 It is clear that these developments pose a new question / challenge / threat / factor.
3 Before we reach any conclusion, it is important to examine the matters / evidence / facts / issues.

12.4

The following text contains eight more useful verb + adverb combinations. Read the text
and underline them.

T

he world is facing a looming water crisis.
Disputes over allocation have steadily
increased in the last decade, and demand
has grown rapidly. Water is likely to generate
the same degree of controversy in the 21st
century as oil did in the 20th. If we take no
action now, new conflicts are likely to occur
periodically around the world. At the moment,

12.5

instead of seeking solutions which directly
address multiple needs, countries focus a little
too narrowly on local issues and typically opt
for expensive and inferior solutions. What is
needed are decisions which can be quickly
implemented and a debate which will seriously
consider more than the short-term needs of
individual states.

Complete the sentences using verb + adverb combinations from 12.4.
1
2
3
4
5

Various measures were introduced last year to
the issue of identity theft.
The justice system needs to
the impact of a prison sentence on offenders.
The number of university applications has been
over the last 50 years.
The article
on one aspect of the problem rather than taking a broad view.
The suggested measures should be
to avoid further problems.
Academic Vocabulary in Use

33

13

Prepositional phrases
Notice the prepositional phrases in bold in the texts below.

A

A book review
The Guide to the Semi-Colon in English was written by Keith Pedant in conjunction with1 a team of
researchers at Boredham University. In comparison with previous works on the semi-colon, this is a
very substantial volume. In addition to the main text there are a number of appendices. These are
to some extent2 the most useful parts of the book as, in line with3 modern linguistic practice, they
provide a wealth of real data. In spite of its potentially dry topic, the book contains many fascinating
examples, in the sections dealing with the history of the semi-colon in particular. With the exception
of4 the final chapter, this book may be of some interest to the general reader as well as the specialist
but on the whole5 is mainly for those who have a professional interest in punctuation marks. If it fails
in any respect6, it is in relation to7 recent changes in the punctuation of e-communication, in terms of8
the conventions of text-messaging, tweets and similar media.
1

working together with 2 notice also to a greater / lesser / certain extent 3 following; also in
accordance with 4 not including 5 generally 6 or in any way 7 in connection with
8
describes which particular area of a subject is being discussed

B

A talk to a genealogy club
Chairperson: Now, at this stage1 in the proceedings it’s my pleasure to introduce our speaker
tonight, Dr Anna Klein, the country’s leading family history specialist. Anna, I’d like to
welcome you on behalf of 2 all our members. Ladies and gentlemen, in view of 3 the
fact that we only have 45 minutes, I would ask you to keep any questions till the end
of Dr Klein’s talk. Thank you.
Anna Klein:

Thank you. Er … I should confess from the outset4 that my own interest in genealogy
came about as a result of discovering some old letters in the attic at home. You
know, I found them purely by chance5. They’d been written by some relatives who’d
emigrated to Canada a hundred years or so before … and for me, as a ten-year-old
then, they were by far6 the most exciting things I’d ever read. They were, for the most
part7, extremely well-written and, from then on8, I was determined to learn as much
as I could about my family. In other words9, I had started out on my genealogical
journey. In some ways I was very lucky. I was able, so to speak10, to get to know
my family on the basis of the old letters and this enabled me to track down some
relations living in Montreal. They, in turn, provided some contacts with Australian
cousins and so it continued. In the process11, I’ve learnt a great deal, not only about
my own family, but also as regards how to approach tracing one’s family. In most
respects12 it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable adventure though there have been some
difficult moments …

1

now, also at this point 2 representing 3 because of 4 from the beginning 5 accidentally
very much 7 generally 8 since that moment 9 to express something differently 10 what
I am saying is not to be understood exactly as stated 11 while doing this 12 considering most
aspects of the experience
6

Common Mistake
On the one hand and on the other hand are used to compare and contrast two different ways of
looking at an issue. Do not confuse on the other hand with on the contrary. On the contrary means
that the previous statement is not true or not correct. Stoneworkers use a variety of names for types
of stone. Geologists, on the other hand, use names that are too technical or specialised for ordinary
use. (Not: Geologists, on the contrary, use names …)
34

Academic Vocabulary in Use

Exercises
13.1
1

Look at the press announcements and complete the prepositional phrases with the missing words.
2

Professor Soltero said that,
line
government guidelines, the team would consult the local
the best solution to the siting
community as
of the drilling platform. She promised that the community
outset and that her team,
would be fully involved
turn, would inform the public at every stage.

3

Dr Leiman said that while
the
hand the government wanted to
the
hand
encourage research,
they were reducing funding for universities; in
words, research would inevitably suffer.

5

the exception
one study in
1986, no major research has been carried out into
the problem, Dr Peters stated. The greatest need
at the moment was a concerted
by
effort to kick-start a research programme.

7

4

6

addition
a new building on the campus,
the team will receive a very generous grant to conduct their
to the university’s plan, this represents
research. In
an exciting and much-awaited development.
particular, the new facility would attract outside investment.

Professor Karpal said that,
the basis
her studies so far, she was optimistic that a cure for the disease
extent, there was already cause
would be found. To
, hopes had to rest
for optimism, but, for the most
on the possibility of a breakthrough in the near future.

whole, social
Lauren Charles said that,
conditions had improved since the report, especially
terms
jobs and housing for the
poorer sectors. If economic and social policy had failed
respect, it was in child care for the less well-off.

13.2

A spokesperson for the company said that,
stage, there is no proof of the sideof the
effects of the drug, but in
public concern, the company was withdrawing
spite
this necessary
it.
measure, she was sure that the drug would soon
return to the market.

8

The professor said that he was delighted to accept the
award
behalf
the whole university.
, he had been the lucky
He said that, in some
speak, in that he had been able to work
one,
with such a wonderful team.
in

Choose the correct prepositional phrases to complete the paragraph.
1
2
3

4
5
6

7
8
9
10
11

Over to you
Use a dictionary or search websites related to your studies to find an example sentence using each
of these phrases: on the one hand, on the other hand, on behalf of, as a result of, with the exception of,
except. Write them out and then add one more sentence for each one relating to your own studies.
Academic Vocabulary in Use

35

14
A

Verbs and prepositions
Verbs with on – sentences from academic articles
Chapter 1 of Huang’s book focuses on violent human behaviour.
Sura’s article draws on data gathered over a period of ten years. [uses in support of his/her case]
The introduction to the book comments briefly on a case study carried out in Brazil.
In this section I concentrate on the economic aspects of immigration.
The book is based on a number of studies carried out during the 1990s. [often used in passive]
The method used by Scanlon relies on / rests on* two basic principles. [*(formal) is based on]

B

Verbs with to – teachers talk to students
We assigned1 the tasks randomly to
the experimental group and the control
group to see how the subjects would
react to the different problems.

Malaria poses a major health risk to people who are
exposed to infection where malaria is common. Last
year 13% of deaths among children were attributed
to2 malaria in one area of Zaire.

OK, let’s turn to the more difficult
cases that I mentioned earlier. How
should a doctor respond to a patient
who doesn’t consent to treatment
when it seems to be essential?
When you’re planning a questionnaire, you
should always attend to3 design issues such as
the number of questions and how clear they are.

We can’t really say that
an increase in inflation of
two per cent amounts to4
an economic crisis, and I
refer here to some recent
stories in the media which
are highly exaggerated and
which can be traced to5 a
deep misunderstanding of
how inflation operates.

1

give a particular job or piece of work to someone 2 say or think that something is the result of
something (often used in passive) 3 deal with something, give your attention to something
4
be the same as something, or have the same effect as something 5 discover the origin of
something by examining how it has developed (often used in passive)

C

Other verb + preposition combinations
verbs + prepositions
associate, provide,
couple, equip + with

examples
We try to equip our laboratories with the latest technology.
Heart disease is often associated with unhealthy lifestyles.
Note: In the active voice, as in the first example, this group of verbs follows the
pattern verb + object + preposition + complement.
Note also that these verbs are often used in the passive, as in the second example.
depart, benefit,
In this book, Herne departs from his earlier theory. [takes a different view]
emerge, exclude + from Some of the data were excluded from the final analysis.
write, speak, convince, Abuka writes / speaks of the early years of industrial development. [both are rather
dispose + of
formal] We must convince people of the need for water conservation.
account, search, call,
Lung cancer accounted for 20% of deaths in men. [formed a total of]
argue + for
Hopper (1987) argues for a new approach to English grammar. [opposite: argue
against]

Common Mistake
The verbs emphasise and stress are used without any preposition (NOT on). The study emphasises /
stresses the need for more controlled experiments to back up the conclusions.
Divide is followed by into (NOT divide in). The subjects were divided into three groups.
36

Academic Vocabulary in Use

Exercises
14.1

Choose the correct prepositions.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

14.2

The article focuses in / on economic changes.
The origins of the festival have been traced on / to a medieval celebration.
The professor commented in / on the students’ essays in some detail.
It took the politicians some time to convince others in / of the need for change.
The theory is based in / on a series of hypotheses.
Jackson departed from / off his usual style in his final novel.
The research relies in / on some unusual experiments.
You must concentrate in / on your studies if you are to do well in your exams.
The author has drawn in / on some interesting primary sources.
Clark never spoke of / at his life during the 1930s.

Complete the phrases with the correct prepositions.
a discrepancy in the figures
account
argue
equality
assign something
group A
be associated
technological change
attribute a quotation
someone
benefit
government reforms
call
an improvement in working
conditions
8 consent
medical treatment

1
2
3
4
5
6
7

14.3

Complete the sentences with the correct form of verb + preposition combinations from 14.2.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7