Appendix: Academic Idioms & Phrases
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This Appendix contains several academic idioms and phrases that can help you improve your writing. There is no practice or answer key because these idioms need to be memorized, and there are no rules to practice.
Idioms are fixed expressions, which means the words within them can’t be altered. They are comprised of words that together have a different meaning than each word individually. Idioms can help connect ideas and make writing sound more fluent.
Below is a list of commonly used academic idioms and phrases (found in UC Davis student writing and research journals) that students often have difficulty forming and using correctly. An idiom is academic if it is used by professional authors on government websites, in newspapers, or in academic journals, so published writing is another good place to look for academic idioms and phrases.
To use other academic idioms and phrases not found in the list below, consult a dictionary to see a definition and how to use them correctly.
Each entry includes:
- The part of speech (for example noun, verb, adjective).
- The most common definition.
- At least one collocation, which is how the idiom/phrase functions in a sentence. The terms in brackets are grammatical terms or common words that surround the idiom/phrase, indicating that you should insert the appropriate grammatical structure and/or wording into your sentence. Since grammar terms are in their base form, make sure you conjugate correctly.
- At least one example sentence using the idiom/phrase.