Vocabulary to Improve your Writing and Speaking in the FCE Exam

One of the things which you will be evaluated on in the Writing and Speaking parts of Cambridge First (FCE) exam is your use of English vocabulary.

To get a higher mark in these parts you need to use a variety of words and phrases.

To help you do this, you'll find below a list of advanced synonyms that you can use for some common English words that you will already know and use.

Although all of these words/phrases are synonyms, some are used slightly differently to the main word (e.g. they could be used in a different part of the sentence etc...). So read the description below each synonym and read the example sentence to make sure that you use them correctly.

Practise using them

Before you see the list of synonyms, there is one thing you need to know. In order to remember them for the exam, you need practise using them as much as possible. So make sure that you create sentences in your own words using them. You can either write these down or just say them, it's your choice, but try to make as many sentences as you can.


The Words

Also

This is used to support an argument you or another person is making (to give extra reasons/examples) and to give extra information about a thing or person (e.g. 'I also play football')

Although these synonyms have the same meaning as 'also', what you say when using them is different to what you would say if only using 'also'. For many of them, you have to say what the previous reason or example was directly after using them (which you don't do when using 'also' by it self). In addition to that, many of them will also use 'also' later in the sentence (like this sentence for example).

In addition to

This is normally used to connect/link the information in two sentences together. You follow it by saying what the previous argument you made or piece of information about the thing was:

'Playing football is good for your health. In addition to making you healthy, you also learn how work in a team when you play.'

You can also use 'in addition' as well. But if you do, you don't follow it by saying what the previous argument you made or piece of information about the thing was:

'Playing football is good for your health. In addition, you also learn how work in a team when you play.'

Besides

This can be used to both connect/link two pieces of information together in the same sentence and connect/link the information in two sentences together:

'Playing football is good for your health. Besides making you healthy, you also learn how work in a team when you play.'

As well as

This is normally used to connect/link two pieces of information together in the same sentence. This shouldn't be used when writing formal pieces of writing (e.g. essays, reports, proposals):

'Playing football is good for your health. As well as making you healthy, you also learn how work in a team when you play.'

Although

The word 'although' is commonly used to say there is a contradiction between a situation ('it was raining') and what happened or will happen ('I went for a walk'). The word 'although' and its synonyms below are always used in front of the situation (e.g. 'although it was raining'). This is different to another word used for making a contrast, 'but'. With 'but', you use it in front of the what happened or will happen (e.g. 'but I went for a walk').

Despite the fact that

It is used in exactly the same way as 'although':

'Despite the fact that most people know that exercise is important for their health, very few people do it regularly.'

You can also just use 'despite'. But if you do, it should only be followed by a noun or noun phrase (e.g. 'the heavy rain'):

'Despite leaving the house earlier than normal, he got to work late.'

In spite of the fact that

It is used in exactly the same way as 'although':

'In spite of the fact that most people know that exercise is important for their health, very few people do it regularly.'

You can also just use 'in spite of'. But if you do, it should only be followed by a noun or noun phrase (e.g. 'the heavy rain'):

'In spite of leaving the house earlier than normal, he got to work late.'

Even though

It is used in exactly the same way as 'although':

'Even though most people know that exercise is important for their health, very few people do it regularly.'

Because

This is used to give a reason why something happened, happens or will happen.

Due to the fact that

It is used in exactly the same way as 'because':

'I don't think that many people would choose to stop using their car, due to the fact that public transport is slow and often dirty.'

You can also just use 'due to'. But if you do, it should only be followed by a noun or noun phrase (e.g. 'the heavy rain'):

'Due to public transport being slow and dirty, I don't think that many people would choose to stop using their car.'

As

Is used in exactly the same way as 'because', but shouldn't be used when writing formal pieces of writing (e.g. essays, reports, proposals):

'As university is now very expensive to go to, more and more young people are now choosing not to go.'

Because of

This form of 'because' is used as a preposition (i.e. it can only be followed by a noun or noun phrase):

'Because of public transport being slow and dirty, I don't think that many people would choose to stop using their car.'

Believe/think

The below synonyms of 'believe' or 'think' are used when expressing your opinion about something.

Consider

Used to give your opinion on something like 'believe' or 'think'. When you use 'consider', it sounds like you have thought a lot on the topic/subject/issue:

'I don't consider global warming to be such an important reason why people would choose to stop using their car.'

It is my opinion

Used to give your opinion on something like 'believe' or 'think'. It's normally followed with 'that':

'It is my opinion that if most people were given the choice, they'd prefer to travel by their own car than by public transport.'

You can also use 'in my opinion' instead of this. But if you do, you should follow it directly by saying 'I think' or I believe':

'In my opinion I think if most people were given the choice, they'd prefer to travel by their own car than by public transport.'

Doubt

It is basically a different way of you 'don't believe' or 'don't think':

'I doubt that most people would use public transport if they had a car.'

Feel

Used to give your opinion on something like 'believe' or 'think'. It's normally followed with 'that'. It shouldn't be used when writing formal pieces of writing (e.g. essays, reports, proposals):

'I feel that if most people were given the choice, they'd prefer to travel by their own car than by public transport.'

But (meaning 1)

This first use of the word 'but' (there are synonyms for another meaning of it after this) is used to say there is a contradiction between a situation ('it was raining') and what happened or will happen ('I went for a walk'). The word 'but' and its synonyms below are always used in front of the what happened or will happen (e.g. 'but I went for a walk'). This is different to another word used for making a contrast, 'although', which is always used in front of the situation instead (e.g. 'although it was raining').

In addition, it is also used when you want to contradict what you or another person has said or written before.

However,

Is used in the same way as 'but', but it is generally followed by a comma and is normally used (but not always) at the beginning of a sentence to contrast what was stated/said in the previous sentence:

'Most people know that exercise is important for their health. However, very few people do it regularly.'

Even so,

Is used in the same way as 'but'. You also can 'but' in front of it is you want (e.g. 'but even so'). It shouldn't be used when writing formal pieces of writing (e.g. essays, reports, proposals):

'Most people know that exercise is important for their health. Even so, very few people do it regularly.'

Yet,

Is used in the same way as 'but':

'Most people know that exercise is important for their health, yet very few people do it regularly.'

But (meaning 2)

The second use of the word 'but' is used to say that there is a difference when directly comparing two things together (e.g. 'I like oranges, but my brother doesn't like them'). You can use these when comparing the photos or talking about the different options in parts 2 and 3 of the Speaking exam.

Whereas

Is used in the same way as 'but':

'The people in the first photo appear to be feeling frustrated. Whereas those in the second photo seem to be more anxious.'

While

Is used in the same way as 'but':

'The people in the first photo appear to be feeling frustrated. While those in the second photo look like they're more anxious.'

However,

Is used in the same way as 'but':

'The people in the first photo appear to be feeling frustrated. However, those in the second photo appear to be more anxious.'

For example

Below are synonyms of 'for example' that you can use when wanting to give examples to support an opinion.

Such as

Used as a preposition (so followed by either a noun or noun phrase). You can also end the sentence where you use it with 'for example':

'There are many things that we can do to help the planet, such as recycling or using less water for example.'

Like

Used as a preposition (so followed by either a noun or noun phrase). You can also end the sentence where you use it with 'for example':

'There are many things that we can do to help the planet, like recycling or using less water for example.'

Say

This is good for referring to things you or your partner said before (especially in the Speaking part of the exam). But when you do this, use 'as' in front of the below verbs and say the verb in the past simple tense.

Mention

Used with the same meaning of 'say' when you want to refer to what you or the other person said before:

'As I mentioned before, people will normally choose the thing which is the cheapest to buy.'

Talk about

Used with the same meaning of 'say' when you want to refer to what you or the other person said before:

'As you talked about before, people will normally choose the thing which is the cheapest to buy.'

Discuss

Used with the same meaning of 'say' when you want to refer to what was said before. However, this should only be used to say what you talked about together (so you can only use 'we' in front of it):

'As we discussed before, people will normally choose the thing which is the cheapest to buy.'

Seem

Like with seem, the below synonyms are used when you want to express a bit of uncertainty when saying why some happened, what happened or when describing what you can see in the photos in the speaking part of the exam.

Appear

Used in the same way as 'seem':

'The people in the photo appear to be in a library or maybe a book shop due to their being a lot of books around them.'

Look like

Used in the same way as 'seem':

'The people in the photo look like they are in a library or maybe a book shop due to the fact that there are a lot of books around them.'

So

It has many meanings. Below are the synonyms for 'so' when it is used with the meaning of 'as a result' or 'for this reason' (when you want to give or explain what the consequences or the results of something happening were, are or will be. For example, 'I was very tired, so I went to bed.').

Therefore

Used in a similar way to 'so'. However, it normally starts a new sentence:

'It is still a lot cheaper and quicker to eat junk food than it is healthy food. Therefore, poor people especially continuing eating a lot of it in their diet.'

As a consequence

Used in the same way to 'so':

'It is still a lot cheaper and quicker to eat junk food than it is healthy food. As a consequence, poor people especially continuing eating a lot of it in their diet.'