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65+ Meaningful Phrases to Boost Your Vocabulary for Standardized Tests 

February 23, 2024
65+ Meaningful Phrases to Boost Your Vocabulary

Having an extensive vocabulary is invaluable when taking standardized tests like the TOEFL and IELTS which assess your proficiency in the English language. Phrases and idioms are imperative for improving your understanding of the English language and helping you express yourself. Here are over 65 meaningful phrases and example sentences you can incorporate to enrich your vocabulary and writing for these exams.

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Describing Change

1. Undergo a transformation – The caterpillar undergoes a transformation into a butterfly during the pupa stage.

2. Pave the way for – The new technology paved the way for even more advanced innovations in the field. 

3. Herald a new era – The end of the war heralded a new era of peace and prosperity for the country. 

4. Facilitate the transition – Having a mentor facilitates the transition from school to the professional world.

Making Comparisons

5. Bear a striking resemblance to – The two sisters bear a striking resemblance to each other, with the same eyes and smile.

6. Follow suit – Seeing her coworkers arrive early, she followed suit and started coming to work an hour before her shift.

7. Stand in contrast to – His risky behavior stands in contrast to the cautious personality of his brother. 

8. Served the same function as – The class president served the same function as a moderator during the school debates.

Cause and Effect

9. Give rise to – The heavy rains gave rise to flooding in many areas.

10. Stem from – Her passion for art stems from spending summers painting with her grandfather.

11. Be attributable to – His success is largely attributable to his perseverance and never giving up.

12. Precipitate – The conflict precipitated a series of events that led to war.


13. Play a pivotal role – Social media plays a pivotal role in how people get their news today.

14. Take precedence over – During emergencies, saving lives takes precedence over rules and regulations. 

15. Are of paramount importance – Trust and communication are of paramount importance for any relationship.

16. Are instrumental – His leadership skills were instrumental in uniting the team around a shared vision. 

Adding Information

17. In addition to – In addition to teaching, he volunteered at a homeless shelter twice a week.  

18. Moreover – The book provides a compelling story. Moreover, the themes explored are universal.

19. Furthermore – She is an excellent team leader. Furthermore, she motivates others effectively. 

20. Likewise – The experiment yielded positive results. Likewise, the research team was thrilled.

Providing Examples

21. For instance – Recess provides many benefits for children. For instance, it develops their social skills.

22. In particular – In general, getting enough sleep is essential. In particular, it improves concentration and memory.

23. Namely – There are a few key ingredients in the dish, namely olive oil, tomatoes, and spinach.

24. A case in point – Hands-on learning is very effective for visual learners. A case in point is using experiments in science class.


25. In brief – In brief, the book explores the themes of love, loss, and redemption.

26. By and large – By and large, the event was considered a great success by the organizers.

27. In essence – In essence, the study demonstrates the power of community in achieving goals. 

28. In summary – In summary, proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep are key to good health.

Expressing Opinion

29. Without a doubt – The new protocols will improve patient care without a doubt. 

30. From my perspective – From my perspective, the best way forward is through open dialogue.

31. There is no denying – There is no denying he has tremendous talent as a musician.

32. I firmly believe – I firmly believe that education should be accessible to all children.

Introducing Contrast

33. However – The data is compelling. However, its applications are limited.

34. Conversely – Most animals are diurnal, and active during the day. Conversely, owls are nocturnal creatures.

35. Nevertheless – He studied hard for the exam. Nevertheless, he was still anxious about his performance. 

36. Notwithstanding – Notwithstanding the rain, the match continued and was not postponed.

Expressing Positive Opinion

37. Greatly enrich – Travel greatly enriches our lives by exposing us to new cultures.

38. Profoundly improve – Education profoundly improves quality of life in many measurable ways. 

39. Enormously beneficial – Exercise is enormously beneficial for both mental and physical health.

40. Tremendous asset – Her ability to speak three languages fluently is a tremendous asset in her role.

Expressing Negative Opinion

41. Extremely damaging – The oil spill was extremely damaging for the local wildlife populations.

42. Severely hamper – High debt can severely hamper one’s ability to achieve financial goals.

43. Detrimental impact – Not getting enough sleep has a detrimental impact on mood and thinking.

44. Profound complications – There can be profound complications when essential medicines are unavailable.

Combining Ideas

45. Not only, but also – She is not only a great athlete, but also an honor roll student.

46. Whether…or – Whether she chooses law or medicine, I know she will excel.

47. Both…and – The book discusses both environmental policy changes and actions individuals can take.

48. Either…or – Either you study hard or fail the test; there is no other alternative. 

Paraphrasing Statements

49. To put it another way – To put it another way, he implied the deal was unreliable. 

50. In other words – In other words, they found the drug was not as effective as believed. 

51. What this means is – What this means is we need to improve communication between teams.

52. Essentially, it is saying – Essentially, it is saying change will be gradual, not immediate.

## Conceding

53. Admittedly – Admittedly, there are flaws in the current process that need addressing. 

54. Assuredly – Assuredly, costs are rising rapidly. However, there are still ways to cut expenses.

55. Granted – Granted, the task is challenging. But it is not impossible.

56. While it is true – While it is true vaccines carry some risk, the benefits outweigh potential dangers. 

Expressing Hesitation 

57. Perhaps – Perhaps the study would have benefited from a larger sample size.

58. It appears that – It appears that the new app is a success based on early usage metrics.

59. It seems possible – It seems possible the two diseases share genetic risk factors.

60. There is a chance – There is a chance the storm may shift course and avoid hitting land.

## Encouraging Action

61. Play a role – We can all play a role in creating a more just and equitable society.

62. Make great strides – With hard work, we can make great strides towards our ideal future.

63. Take concrete steps – The first step we must take is to raise awareness through open discussion.

64. Call for – This troubling trend calls for immediate action before things deteriorate further. 

65. Are charged with – Parents are charged with instilling moral values in their children.


Incorporating meaningful phrases like these when writing essays or speaking will elevate your vocabulary and allow you to express ideas with precision and eloquence. With regular practice, these phrases will become natural elements of your everyday language. A rich vocabulary is a valuable asset on tests like the TOEFL and IELTS.


Should I focus on incorporating advanced vocabulary when preparing for the TOEFL or IELTS?

Yes, having an extensive vocabulary is very important for achieving a high score on the TOEFL and IELTS. The verbal sections test your command of the English language, including vocabulary. Using precise, complex phrases demonstrates strong proficiency.

What are some effective ways to improve my vocabulary for these standardized tests? 

Some good strategies are reading widely, especially books and news articles; studying vocabulary lists grouped by themes; learning roots/affixes; using new words in your speaking and writing; and practicing phrases like those mentioned in the article.

Will using big words I don’t fully understand improve my speaking scores on the IELTS?

No, avoid using complex vocabulary that you are unfamiliar with, as this can come across as unnatural. Focus on incorporating phrases you understand into your everyday speech. Fluency and natural expression are important.

Should I just memorize the example phrases given in the article and use them in the TOEFL writing sections?

It’s useful to be familiar with phrases like these, but don’t just plug them in randomly. Make sure they fit naturally in the context of what you are writing. Use them to precisely convey your ideas.

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Neha Sharma is an IELTS faculty with a decade of experience in teaching IELTS. She holds a PhD in English from Stanford University, USA. Excelling in tailoring her teaching to individual student needs, she has helped over 50,000 students achieve their target scores. Actively involved in research, she ensures that her methods remain effective and innovative.

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