Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

On this show you learn a lot of casual English expressions but if you drop an academic word or expression into your conversations once in a while people will see you as smarter, more articulate, and more competent.

We’ll show you what academic phrases and words to use to accomplish this goal today.

Today we have a question from a listener:

“Thanks for your timely reply. A case in point was the degree of formality of the phrase “To be at odds with.” I came across this phrase in The Economist.

Would it be weird to use phrases like this one in casual conversations or would it be ok to use them once in a while to sound intelligent?

What other words could I use to add the variety as well as the uniqueness to the way that I speak?”

-Aaron, AEE Listener


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Academic English Phrases to Use in Conversation:

  • “To be at odds with”: This means that two things do not agree or do not line up.
    • “Blake’s version of the crime scene was at odds with the police report.”
  • “In essence” or “Essentially”: This means “overall” or “in general” or “most importantly.”
    • Example: A: How can I make sure I am eating well? B: Well it’s complicated. You have to think about organic food, and grass-fed and other things. Essentially you should just eat at Whole Foods.
    • ***This word would be a great way to end your answer on the IELTS Speaking test.
  • “Primarily”: This means “mostly” or “For the most part.”
    • Q: Why are you taking this trip? A: Well primarily it’s for a vacation but I will also be working on a project.
  • “Idiosyncrasies”: This means “a peculiar habit” or a “quirk.” We use this when someone has a lot of strange characteristics or habits.


How can you start using these?

To use academic words to sound smart more often you should start listening to smart people!

  • We like Krista Tippet’s podcast On Being. You can get it in the iTunes Podcast store.
  • You could also try listening to speeches by President Obama. He is very articulate and you will feel inspired by the way that he speaks.

You will speak like the people you are around most often.

Remember this quote:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

– Jim Rohn


What questions do you have from today?

Let us know in the comments below.

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