Cambridge Exams – Words we Use!

The Cambridge exams are a test of what you know, what you can write and what you can say. Here we’ll take a look at a few ways candidates can often try to show that knowledge. Some are great – some maybe not so much!


Like – The word “like” is a perfectly normal word but here we are thinking of when it is added in front of other words by some native speakers. It is also very common in US TV shows. It is a habit some people develop but it can make it more difficult for an examiner to identify any other language you are using if you use it too much. So pay attention to what you are saying.

Here’s a video of “like” in action!

In my opinion, I think – both very useful but they mean the same thing so one is enough!

I concur – this is a very formal way of agreeing and not common.

I (would) tend (not) to agree/partially agree – very complex and when they are used in English more likely in some form of formal negotiations.

Idioms  -Idioms can be hard to use and are often very specific to people and contexts. Often candidates feel they can impress the examiner by using them. If you can do it naturally in the right context they will but repeating a learnt expression probably will not.

Some you probably should avoid

Let’s get the ball rolling – For native speakers this is more likely at the beginning of a meeting, not an interview.

Not my cup of tea –  it’s not a commonly used phrase and usually used to say you don’t like something, in a less direct way.

I take your point but – Great expression but put some feeling into it!

We see eye to eye – One that sounds very good but usually more of an idea of how well people get on with each other not a way of saying you agree.

Hustle and bustle – great expression but more likely to appear in a reading text or a song!


And some writing favourites!

Nowadays – Popular with 99% of candidates in Cambridge First and Advanced exam essays! There are many, many other words in English!

Day to Day life – It is used as a very general decision of  what people do, it’s usually not used to talk about you do.

On the one/other hand – Also very good and very popular phrases to use but don’t forget to consider other ways of introducing point that have opposite opinions.

Regarding – Also a common phrase but more often the phrases with regard to , as regards are correct.

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