Advanced Writing – Emphasis

Emphasising Ideas

jigsaw- Emphasis of language

As we’ve said in other posts on this theme we always need to provide justifications for our ideas. Here we will look at the effect of using expressions that emphasize information.

We consider the use of emphasis expressions in a number of ways
– To clarify an opinion that we have 
– To assert an opinion or make it stronger
– To modify a point of view

Let’s look at some ways we can use these types of structures.

Simple ways to emphasize information

There are a number of ways we can emphasize ideas in writing.

Using Auxiliary verbs
One of simplest of these is by using auxiliary verbs. We can look at some examples here.

  • I enjoy going out for long cycles.
  • I do enjoy going out for long cycles as I feel so much better after it.

In the first example the speaker is just making a statement the emphasis is on how much they enjoy something. So, this is exactly how we can do this with auxiliary verbs.

Using Passives
Another relatively simple way of doing this is by using another familiar term to allow us to move the information around the sentence. so, we can do this with the passive form instead as part of the reason the music is too change the focus of course of what we want to talk about. Once again here are a couple of examples of this.

  • My father built this factory in 1974.
  • This factory was built in 1974.

As we know about the passive we can omit the agent so, in our second sentence there is more focus on details about the factory.


Reference words
The final example we will look at in this section is the use of what we call reference words. Most often we tend to use the words this or that. We can see how this works quite clearly for example sentence here.

  • It is this (ability) which separates humans from other species.

In this particular example we can easily leave out the word ability in the sentence and using the word this is as effective in emphasizing this information.

Fronting and Inversion

There are two more complex methods to emphasize information. Both of them tend to be at the very beginning of the sentence and highlight the information that follows.

This type of grammar uses a number of structures, the most common of these tend to be what and it. Let’s look at some examples here.

  • What I dislike most about this country is the cold.
  • It is of great importance that we reach a decision today.

For both of these examples the information immediately after the structure is emphasized.  Another final point to make here is that although we are discussing writing it’s also possible to use these types of structures in speaking as well.


Inversion uses a number of special structures which have a negative or slightly negative idea. As the word says we invert some of the information in the sentence; these are the verbs. Here are a number of examples to show this at work.

  • Not only did you break my glasses but you hid them from me!
  • Under no circumstances are you to touch that cake.
  • No sooner had they left the house than it began to rain.

The verb immediately following the negative expression is inverted. You will also notice that there are some fixed expressions here.

  • Not only… but
  • No sooner… than

Attitude works for emphasis

It is worth looking at one final approach to using emphasis in writing. We can use certain kinds of words and expressions to show our attitude to something. The following are examples of some of the types of expressions we mean but there are many more ways to emphasize information.

  • Clearly/Obviously …
  • There is no doubt …
  • It goes without saying …
  • In fact …

While it’s not necessary to emphasize every piece of information it is still a very useful approach as it can help to make your argument stronger and improve the effect of the writing on the reader. You can also learn more on English Too about how we use cause and reason expressions for the Cambridge Advanced exam.


Emphasising Ideas

Test your understanding of how we use different ways of emphasising ideas.

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First Exam


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