Academic Vocabulary: Basic Words & Phrases to Use in Your Papers

In a learning institute, different students have a different understanding of academic assignments. For instance, some have a perfect grasp of academic vocabulary to use in research papers, while some find it hard to put together good vocabulary when writing such papers. Similarly, some students have incredible research skills but find it hard to put together the research into meaningful content.

Academic writing is a skill that can take you a good time before you master the art of writing the best academic papers. However, this doesn’t imply that as a student, you cannot produce the best academic work. You only need the right resources, dedication, and commitment, and you will realize using general academic vocabulary in your paper is a smooth process.

So, have you been struggling with phrases and words to use in your academic papers? Keep reading because we have included all the essentials of both general academic vocabulary and technical academic vocabulary that will make your paper stand out.

What is academic vocabulary? Academic vocabulary definition

Generally, vocabulary is a collection of words used either in written form or when conversing. Different environments require different vocabularies. For instance, the vocabulary friends can use while talking out isn’t the same a student can use when writing academic papers. Simply put, academic vocabulary is a collection of words or phrases used for academic purposes, such as in classrooms, when writing thesis or research papers, or doing homework and school assignments.

The two types of academic vocabulary

Academic vocabulary is divided into two types, and if you have been wondering what are academic words, read through the two categories to have a better understanding.

1. General academic vocabulary

This category of academic vocabulary involves using common academic words when handling schoolwork. Some words under this category are more general than others as they are meant to bring out the formal academic tone. Words like the purpose of this research are to do this, and that brings out an academic environment. Also, in academic words, students use transition words to link other words to show a continuous flow of content. Such words are also general.

2. Technical academic vocabulary

This is the second category of academic vocabulary, and they are quite significant in any piece of academic task. However, these words apply only to a given field, and a student specializing in such a field will understand such vocabulary better. For instance, externalities apply to economics, zoology applies to biology, while inertia applies only to physics.

Note: Technical academic vocabulary category has some words with more than one meaning, depending on the subject it is referring to.

Academic vocabulary by grade level

Once you define academic vocabulary, you will realize that different academic vocabulary applies to different grades depending on various elements. For instance, a research paper vocabulary used by students in higher learning institutes isn’t the same as a lower grade vocabulary. This section will explore the different academic vocabulary by grade level and the example of academic language used in each grade.

1st graders

Here, the child is in the process of learning how to read, and at this stage, the kid cannot learn the tough vocabulary words. Sometimes, the kid might not read and spell the words correctly, but they can hear when someone talks, and this boosts their communication skills. Examples are listen, calm, instead, among others.

2nd grade

Here, the child can now read and understand the words. Examples include classify, opinion, and amaze, among others.

3rd grade

These words help the child improve overall writing and reading skills. They are words like typical, example, additional, etc.

4th grade

The words used under this category help kids to keep learning, communicating, and reading. Examples of such words are obvious, confirm, avoid, etc.

5th grade

The fifth-grade vocabulary will help the child start learning new concepts and general writing skills. These are quite hard words as the child keeps learning.

6th grade

These are even harder words that a sixth-grader can apply in different subjects. Examples include expression and persuade.

7th and 8th grade

These vocabulary words are of high value as they help a child understand the context and the general meaning. Children in grades 7 and 8 can apply such vocabulary to different subjects.

9, 10, and 11 grade

Here, the student can now start learning academic vocabulary and how to apply the words in different subjects.

12th grade

This is the highest vocabulary grade level, and the vocabulary under this category helps students tackle senior school with academic tasks.


Academic writing requires students to use appropriate language in every subject. For students whose English isn’t their first language, it is essential to study such vocabulary to have a better understanding.

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