How To Use Synonyms

In this post, we will look at how to use synonyms in your writing task 2 essay. To begin with, when you paraphrase text, you read the question then rewrite it in your own words. You should not copy words straight from the question, instead change the order of the words and choose words with a similar meaning (a synonym). This means you are using different words to write about the same idea. 

It is important to use synonyms in your writing, as you will lose marks if you repeat words from the question and use the same words in your essay over and over. If you do that, it will show the examiner that you have a limited vocabulary and you want to do the opposite for a high band score. By using synonyms well you can show the examiner that you have a 'wide range of vocabulary and can skillfully use it to convey precise meanings' (band score 8).

TIP >> When paraphrasing the question in your introduction, you don't need to change all of the words, but you should try to change most of them. Be careful though, because choosing a word that has a similar meaning - not the same meaning can make the meaning of the sentence change or become unclear. 

TIP >> The best way to practice this is to have a look at writing task 2 questions and paraphrase/re-write the question in your own words. Whilst practising you can use an online thesaurus tool to help you find synonyms and learn new words


What Is A Synonym?

Synonyms are words that are similar or have a related meaning, to another word. They are important to use in your IELTS writing when you want to avoid repeating the same word over and over. Also, sometimes the word you have in mind might not be the most appropriate word, which is why finding the right synonym is crucial. When you are preparing for your IELTS test, take some time to use an online tool, to help you research many synonym examples. A great way to practice finding the right synonyms is to use an online thesaurus.


Choosing a Synonym

There is a certain skill involved in choosing the most appropriate synonym, as not all are created equal. It is important to consider the connotation of the word because some synonyms can inject a different meaning than the one intended.

For example, one synonym of the word child is "brat" however, this word carries quite a negative connotation. Depending on the circumstance you can use it, but in this instance, if you just want to say that someone is young (a child) then another synonym such as "young child" or "minor" would be more applicable.

TIP >> Make sure the synonym you choose has the same meaning. Inserting a synonym with an incorrect meaning can change the ideas in your essay, which can lower your band score. 



Synonym Examples

Here is a list of adjectives and their synonyms that are commonly used >>

  • Society / Community / Humanity
  • Professional / Specialist / Authority
  • Healthy / Active / Lively
  • Economic / Fiscal / Commercial
  • Obese / Fat / Heavy
  • Punishment / Discipline / Retribution
  • Baffle: confuse, deceive
  • Hypocrisy: duplicity, falseness
  • Pacify: appease, placate
  • Recalcitrant: obstinate, stubborn
  • Turbulent: disordered, violent
  • Valid: authorized, legitimate
  • Old: antiquated, ancient, obsolete, extinct, past, prehistoric, venerable, aged
  • True: genuine, reliable, factual, accurate, precise, correct, valid, real
  • Important: required, substantial, vital, essential, primary, significant, requisite, critical
  • Weak: frail, anaemic, feeble, infirm, languid, sluggish, puny, fragile

These are just a few examples of synonyms but hopefully, you can see that working with synonyms can make your IELTS writing more varied and help you to expand your vocabulary.


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