Plain English services from the Word Centre

A plain English phrase book

Mouse and writing handBelow you will find an alphabetical list containing many of the complicated and bureaucratic words and phrases that writers often use. By each one you will see our suggestion, or suggestions, for saying the same thing in plain English. You can either scroll down the page to find the entry you want, or use the shortcuts.

This free version of the phrasebook gives suggestions only for words and phrases beginning with the letters A to E. You can find out more about the full A to Z version here.

If you're new to the idea of plain English, or if you're using the phrasebook for the first time, you will find more advice here.

A   B-C   D   E   F-H   I   J-L   M-O   P-Q   R-S   T-Z

Instead of

We suggest you use

A

(have the) ability

be able, can

abode

home, where (you) live

abolish

end, finish, get rid of, do away with

(an) absence of

no, none, without

(in the) absence of

without, because there is/are no

abstain from

give up, stop, do without

abundance of

enough, plenty, a lot (or say how many or how much)

accede to

agree to, allow

(to) access

get, get to, get into, use . . . more

accessible

(you) can get it, get to it, get into it, use it . . . more

accommodation

home, where you live, somewhere to live

accommodation

agreement, understanding

accompanying

with, the enclosed, I enclose . . . . . . more

accomplish

do, make, finish

(in) accordance with

in line with, following, under

accordingly

so, therefore, this means . . . more

accordingly

in the way we agreed . . . more

according to my records

my records show

accrue

collect, grow, build up

accumulate

build up, collect

achieve

get, reach, do

(receipt is) acknowledged

thank you for . . . . . . more

acquaint yourself with

find out, find out about, read, get used to

acquire

get, buy, collect, learn

actively

(edit out) . . . more

activity

(be specific) . . . more

additional

extra, more, other

(in) addition

also, and

(in) addition to

and, also, as well as, besides, on top of

address (a problem or issue)

deal with, sort out, answer

addressed to

sent to, to

adequate

enough, good enough, proper . . . more

adhere to

keep to, stick to

adjacent

next to, next door, close to, close by

adjustment

change

adjustment (to an
amount of money)

go up, go down

administer

deal with, take care of, manage . . . more

administer (a medicine)

give . . . more

adopt (a policy etc)

follow, put in place

advantageous

helpful, useful, will benefit you

adverse

bad, unhelpful, unfriendly, critical . . . more

advise

tell . . . more

(I) advise you that . . .

edit out, unless you are giving advice

affect

commonly confused word

affix

stick to, stick on, add

afford (an opportunity etc)

give, allow, let . . . more

aforesaid

(edit out)

aggregate

total, in total

(to) aggregate

add up, total

alleviate

ease, lessen, lower

allocate

give, share out, set aside, put into

alteration

change

alternate

every other, one in two commonly confused word

(to) alternate

switch, move between

alternative

a choice, another, other commonly confused word

alternatively

instead, or, on the other hand

amend

change, alter

amount (of)

commonly confused word

(in the) amount of

of, for (or edit out) . . . more

an absence of

no, none

and/or

. . . more

annual, annually

yearly, each year, once a year

anticipate

expect commonly confused word

anxiety

worry, fear

applicable

applies to, is about

applicant

use 'you' instead . . . more

applicants should note
that . . .

edit out (just tell them what they need to know)

appreciate

thank, be grateful

appreciate

go up, build up, grow

approximately

about, roughly . . . more

arrears

overdue, what you owe, you owe . . ., you are behind with . . . . . . more

arise

happen, come about

arising from

because of, due to

as a consequence of

because of, due to

ascertain

ask about, find out, make sure

aspirations

hopes and ambitions

as regards

about

assemble

put together, build, meet, gather

assess

work out, decide, examine, check

assist

help

assistance

help

(in) association with

with

at present

now . . . more

attached herewith is

here is, I attach

attempt

try . . . more

attend

come to, go to, call at, visit

attention is drawn

please see, please read

at the present time

now

at the time of writing

now

at this point in time

now

attributable to

due to, because of, done by

atypical

unusual, not normal, out of the ordinary

authorise

allow, let

auxilliary

other, extra, backup

available

(edit out) . . . more

available from

(you can) get . . . from . . . more

avoid

do not, donít, try not to . . . more

(be) aware of, aware that

know about (or just say what it is) . . . more

.

B

top

(on a) . . . basis

(edit out) . . . more

(on the) basis of

by, from

(have a) bearing (upon)

affect, have an effect on, alter

be aware of, aware that

know about (or just say what it is) . . . more

because of the fact that

because

be entitled

have the right . . . more

(on) behalf of

for

be in a position to

be able to, be ready to

belated

late, after this

be supportive of

support, help with, let you

bona fide

genuine, real

by means of

by, through

by virtue of

because of

by virtue of the fact that

because

.

C

top

calculate

work out, decide

(have the) capacity

can, be able

capital (financial)

money, savings, funds

(in) case of

if, in . . . more

category

type, kind

cease

stop, end, finish, run out

circumvent

get around, avoid, prevent

circumstances (personal)

details, situation, background

circumstances (of a case, etc)

facts, details, situation, background

clarify

explain, make clear, clear up

close proximity

close to, near, nearby

(take) cognisance of

take notice of, take account of, take note of, learn from

commence

begin, start

commit an offence

break the law

commonly

usually, mainly, often

communal

shared, common

compel

force, make

complement

add to, improve, go well with commonly confused word

complementary

commonly confused word

(to) complete

finish, finish off, get ready

(to) complete (a form)

fill in

compliment

commonly confused word

complimentary

free, flattering, kind commonly confused word

comply with

keep to, follow, meet

component

part

compulsory

must, have to

comprehensive

full, thorough, wide ranging

concerned with

about, covers

concerned with

deals with, handles, looks after

concerning

about, on

conclude

decide, end . . . more

conclusion

end, finish, decide . . . more

(come to the) conclusion

decide . . . more

concur

agree

conditional upon

dependent on, only if . . . more

conduct

behaviour

(to) conduct

carry out, run

conform

meet, follow, keep to

congruent (with)

in line with, agree with, meet, keep to

(in) conjunction with

with, and

(in) connection with

about

connote

point to, suggest, hint at

consecutive

one after the other, following on, without a break, in a row

(as a) consequence of

as, because, due to

consequences

effects, results

consequently

so, therefore

considerably

a lot, a great deal

(give) consideration to

think about, consider

consist of

made up of

constraints

limits, problems with, not enough

construct

make, put together, build

consult

ask, talk to

contact

call, phone, talk to, write to . . . more

contemplate

look at, think about

continual

regular, often . . . more

continue

keep going, last

continuous

without a break, without stopping . . . more

contravene

break, go against

conversely

on the other hand

convey (a load etc)

take, carry, move, deliver

convey (a message etc)

get across, pass on

(your) correspondence

(your) letter

could potentially

could

council

use 'we' or 'us' instead . . . more

courteous

polite

criminal offence

a crime, illegal, against the law

criteria

standards, conditions, tests, qualities

critical

vital, important, dangerous, negative . . . more

currently

now (or edit out) . . . more

customary

usual

.

D

top

(to) date

up to now, so far

dedicated

separate, (your) own, specialist

deduct

take off, take away

deem

consider, think

(a) defect

fault, problem, damage

defer

put off, delay, put back, give way . . . more

deficiency

weakness, fault, damage, problem, not enough

degree (of)

how much, amount (of)

delete

cross out, cross off, take out

demonstrate

show, prove

dependant

commonly confused word

dependent

commonly confused word

depreciate

go down in value/number/amount, be worth less

deprive (you of)

stop (you) having, take away (your . . .)

designated

named

(to) desire

want

(to be) desirous of

to want

despatch

send, mail, post

(to) detail

explain, show, describe, cover

determine

decide, work out

difficulties

problems

directly

straight, straight into, straight away

discharge (a task)

do, carry out, finish

discharge (a debt)

pay, pay back, pay off

discharge (a gun etc)

fire, let off

discharge (an employee etc)

sack, fire

discharge (from hospital etc)

(when you) go home

disclose

tell, pass on

discontinue

stop, end

dispose of

give away, get rid of

dissatisfaction

not satisfied

distinct from

different from, separate from

disseminate

spread, pass on

divulge

give, tell, tell about, pass on

documentation

papers, documents, proof . . . more

draft

write, (a) rough copy . . . more

due to the fact that

because, as

duplicate

copy

(for the) duration of

during, while

dwell

live

dwelling

home, where you live

dwindling

less and less, fewer and fewer, getting smaller

.

E

top

economic (factors, reasons etc)

financial, about money . . . more

economical

good value, cheap

(an) effect

commonly confused word

(to) effect

bring about, cause, lead to commonly confused word

(in an) effort to

to

eg

for example, such as . . . more

(you are) eligible

(you) may, are allowed, (you) qualify . . . more

eliminate

stop, end, get rid of, destroy, kill

emphasise

point out, stress

empower, empowerment

give (you) the right to, let, allow, help . . . more

enable

allow, help, (we) can, (you) can

(herewith) enclosed

here is, I enclose

encompass

take in, cover, include

endeavour

try, try hard, do our best

engage in

take part in

engage with (group of people)

work with, get in touch with, include, contact, help

engender

bring about, cause, lead to

enhance

improve, make better

enquire

ask

(your) enquiry

asking (about) . . . more

ensuing

following, that follows

ensure

make sure

entitled

have the right . . . more

entitlement

right, due, payment . . . more

environment

(edit out) . . . more

equitable

fair, equal

equivalent

equal, the same

erroneous

wrong, by mistake, mistaken, incorrect

erect

put up, build

escalate

get worse, become more serious

(it is) essential

must . . . more

establish

prove, find out, show

establish (a business)

set up, start

etc

and so on . . . more

evidence (of income, etc)

proof

exceed

(be) more than, go above, go over

exceptional circumstances

special situations

exceptionally

only if, in special situations . . . more

excess

too much, too many

(in) excess of

over, more than

excessive

too many, too much

exchange

swap

exclude

leave out

excluding

but not, apart from, leaving out

exclusively

only

(you are) exempt from

(you) do not have to

exercise (your right to. . .)

use, take up

exhaustive

full, complete

existing

already (or edit out) . . . more

expeditiously

quickly, as soon as possible

expenditure

money, spending, outgoings

(to) experience

feel, notice, have

expire

run out, stop, end

extent

how much, amount (of)

external

outside

 

 

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