“If you want to improve your essay writing, read more novels.”

Many of us have heard this well-meaning but rather vague and hence unhelpful piece of advice. The general idea behind it is that reading more exposes one to new vocabulary which one can in turn use to improve his own writing. However, given that many students favour expository essay topics in the O levels, not all descriptive words and phrases in novels will work. Here are some useful words and phrases that can be commonly used to make your expository writing more impressive!

Written by Michelle Tan for The Annexe Project

1. Imperative (adj)

Meaning: very important or urgent

Recommended structures:
It is imperative that…
It is imperative to…

Application:
Should parents be punished if their children behave badly? (1992 O levels)
It is imperative that parents instill sound values in their children.
As a parent, it is imperative to instill sound values in one’s child.

2. Affluent (adj)

Meaning: wealthy

Recommended structures:
affluent + noun (e.g. an affluent nation)
X is affluent (e.g. Jeff is affluent thanks to his parents’ huge business empire.)

Application:
The benefits of technology are mostly enjoyed by the rich. What are your views? (SAC Secondary’s 2014 Prelim 2)
Singapore is an affluent nation and most of us enjoy the convenience and entertainment of modern technology…

3. Rampant (adj)

adjective to describe something bad getting worse quickly and in an uncontrolled way.

Recommended structures:
rampant + noun (e.g. ‘rampant corruption’)
Sth is rampant (e.g. ‘Social media addiction is rampant in today’s society.’)

Application:
The benefits of technology are mostly enjoyed by the rich. What are your views? (SAC Secondary’s 2014 Prelim 2)
Singapore is an affluent nation and most of us enjoy the convenience and entertainment of modern technology but can we say the same for countries where poverty is rampant?

Singapore is an affluent nation and most of us enjoy the convenience and entertainment of modern technology but can we say the same for countries with rampant poverty?

4. A thing of the past

Meaning: something that no longer happens

Recommended structure:
X is a thing of the past.

Application:
The benefits of technology are mostly enjoyed by the rich. What are your views? (SAC Secondary’s 2014 Prelim 2)
Developments in medical technology mean that once-rampant diseases such as smallpox are now a thing of the past.

5. Ramifications (n)

Meaning: possible results (usually negative) of an action 

Application:
Should parents be punished if their children behave badly? (1992 O levels)
If parents do not discipline their children, it may lead to grave ramifications.

6. Ubiquitous (adj)

Meaning: seeming to be everywhere

Recommended structure:
Ubiquitous + noun (e.g ubiquitous fast food outlets)
X is ubiquitous
(e.g. The smartphone is a ubiquitous device in modern society.)  

Application:
How can online gaming impact a person’s life and the choices they make? (CHIJ St Joseph’s Convent’s 2014 Prelim)
A decade ago, internet cafes were ubiquitous as gamers frequently visited these places which offered high speed internet access to enjoy their favourite online games. 
A decade ago, ubiquitous internet cafes offered visitors high speed internet access to play their favourite online games.

7. Indispensable (adj)

Meaning: so important or good that one cannot do without

Recommended structure:
indispensable + noun (e.g. an indispensable part of our lives)
X is indispensable (e.g. The Internet is indispensable to many of us.)

Application:
‘We can’t do without mobile phones today. What are your views? (2011 UCLES sample paper)
Mobile phones are an indispensable part of our lives.
In our daily lives, mobile phones are indispensable.

 

8. Advent (n)

Meaning: the fact of an event happening or the introduction of sth

Recommended structure:
the advent of sth (e.g. the advent of the smartphone)

Application:
How can online gaming impact a person’s life and the choices they make? (CHIJ St Joseph’s Convent’s 2014 Prelim)
The advent of the smartphone means that people can now enjoy a game of Candy Crush or Mobile Legends while they ride the subway to work or wait for their turn at the dentist.

9. Eradicate (v)

Meaning: to completely destroy something bad

Application:
How can online gaming impact a person’s life and the choices they make? (CHIJ St Joseph’s Convent’s 2014 Prelim)
China is attempting to eradicate gaming addiction by introducing a curfew on online gaming. Gamers under the age of 18 are prohibited from playing online games from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. each day.

10. Laudable (adj)

Meaning: Praiseworthy, commendable

Recommended structure:
laudable + noun (e.g. laudable efforts to protect the environment)
X is laudable (e.g. The recycling programme is laudable but is it cost-effective?)

Application:
‘Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.’ What are your views? (CHIJ St Joseph’s Convent’s 2014 Prelim)
The National Library Board recently increased users borrowing limits in a laudable attempt to promote reading.
The National Library Board’s decision to raise borrowing limits is laudable as users are encouraged to read more.

Like what you read? Schedule an O Level English tuition trial lesson with Michelle at The Annexe Project Educational Centre and work your way to an A1 for English! Call or text 90683979 for more details.