language resources Learn English life skills Live English pragmatics

Life skills tip of the week: emphasis

Express-Yourself-MEDO-Web-232x300pxAs part of this year’s pragmatics series, we bring more useful content and tips from the Macmillan Dictionary on expressing yourself.

The previous language tip looked at ways of persuading someone to do something.

This week’s tip looks at just a few of the very many ways of adding emphasis to what you say and write.

You can use an adverb such as very or completely to add emphasis:
I took my music lessons very seriously.
Doctors said the operation was completely successful.

You can use an adverb such as actually or a phrase such as in (actual) fact to emphasize that something is really true, or really happened, or is surprising:
It looks as if Tony is actually doing some work.
There’s a big difference between saying you’ll do something and actually doing it.
In actual fact, she was quite right.

Other adverbs such as absolutely, acutely, positively, totally and utterly add a stronger emphasis:
The food was absolutely fantastic.
His voice changed and became positively angry.
You’re being utterly unreasonable.

Another way to add emphasis is to use one of a wide range of adjectives such as blatant, breathtaking, complete, gross, unadulterated and utter:
That is a gross distortion of the truth.
What a load of unadulterated nonsense!
She’s the complete opposite to me.
It was a complete and utter waste. 

Other adverbs such as moreover, basically and furthermore also add emphasis to the point you are making:
More and more people are opposed to the idea of increasing university fees. Moreover, there is now evidence that it discourages many students from coming to the UK.
Basically, you should have asked me first.

There are very many phrases that can be used to add emphasis. Here are a few of them:
All this is going to cause a lot of trouble, believe you me.
Everyone talks about sexual equality, but the fact remains that women are paid less than men.
I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like for him, bringing up three kids on his own.
I would like to point out that the 50,000 or so home educated children in Britain are the lucky ones. 
I can assure you that it is most certainly NOT okay to ask someone if their child has a disorder.
Muffins and pastries are usually very high in sugar and saturated fat, and quite possibly packed with hydrogenated veg oils into the bargain.

Would you like to learn more about pragmatics? Keep a close eye on our pragmatics page where the ninth of our life skills lesson plans was published recently. For more information about Life Skills, visit the Macmillan Life Skills page.

Email this Post Email this Post

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

Leave a Comment