Do You Use ‘Thing’ Too Much? Try These

Thing is one of the most overused words in Academic English. You’ve probably written something like:  “This essay will discuss several possible things” OR “One thing which affected the results one…”  Right?

The reason why thing is used so much, is because it’s a beautifully versatile word which can be used in so many situations.

It’s also really lazy.

In everyday conversations, there’s no real problem. If you say ‘thing’ too much, it’ll be annoying, but that’s all.

In academic language, it’s another story. In academic writing and speaking, you’re trying to convince your audience that you know what you’re talking about.

That’s one reason why academic language is so formal.

So, here are some pretty useful alternatives that you can use instead of ‘thing’. They’re all nouns, so you use them the same way that you use ‘thing’. Think of them as being academic versions of ‘thing’.

thing

How would you refer to this?

‘Thing’ Replacements:

Factor

  • A fact, part or influence of a result
    • Exercise is only one of the factors resulting in weight loss.
    • This essay discuss several possible factors.

Effect

  • A change or result
    • One effect of exercise is the development of muscle mass.
    • This essay will discuss several possible effects.

Issue

  • A point of discussion or a problem in a topic
    • One of the issues to be discussed in this essay is the effect of diet on weight loss.
    • This essay will discuss several possible issues.

Problem

  • A negative situation
    • One problem that many people face when dieting is a lack of energy.
    • This essay will discuss several possible problems.

Solution

  • A way to solve a problem
    • There are several solutions to this problem, such as more sleep and the use of caffeine.
    • This essay will discuss several possible solutions.

Reason

  • An explanation for something
    • The reason for this is obvious.
    • This essay will discuss several possible reasons.

 Notion

  • A belief
    • The notion that a person needs to run to lose weight is incorrect.
    • This essay will discuss several possible notions.

 Idea

  • A thought or opinion 
    • This idea is popular among young athletes.
    • This essay will discuss several possible ideas.

How to use the ‘thing replacements’

There are two basic steps to using these ‘thing replacements’. Of course, it’s still easier to use ‘thing’… but we don’t want to use thing’ anymore!

Step 1: Decide which ‘thing replacement’ is suitable for your context. Use the definition to help you.

Step 2: Use the ‘thing replacement’:

  • ‘There are several factors which affect this…’
  • ‘There are several reasons for this….’
  • ‘Two notions which experts believe are…

Note: Try to always use a ‘replacement’, especially in your thesis statement.

Final Words

The next time you use ‘thing’, see if you can replace it with one of the words here!

Are there any words or phrases that you use too often? Leave a comment in the box below!

 

About the Author Sam

Sam is the founder and creator of English For Study. He's also lecturer in EAP/Academic English. Apart from making Academic English easy, he likes learning languages, lifting weights and eating good food.

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