13 phrases that will make you sound more articulate than you actually are

Do you ever feel like your spoken language is letting you down?

Lots of people do.

Here’s why: first impressions matter. And the way you speak is one of the first things people notice about you.

Unfortunately, we live at times in a superficial world. You only get one shot at making a first impression, so it’s important to make sure your speech reflects what you’re trying to say.

Luckily, you don’t need to be Shakespeare. 

But being able to communicate your ideas and opinions clearly, effectively, and articulately is a crucial skill both in the workplace and in your regular life.

Here are some phrases you can consider using to make yourself sound more articulate:

1) In contrast

Now, before we go any further, it’s important to note that being articulate isn’t the same as being verbose (that means using too many words, in case you’re wondering). In fact, trying to sound intelligent by using too many words can actually backfire and harm the impression people have of you.

The best phrases to make you seem more articulate are those that allow you to say something in fewer words while still making a point.

In contrast is a great example of that.

You can use in contrast to compare two things and get across an opposing viewpoint to the ones being presented. This phrase is a handy way to cut down on unnecessary words and get straight to the point, and will definitely help you seem more articulate.

2) Ergo

Here’s a good one: ergo.

Pronounced just the way you would expect it to be, ergo is Latin, and it means “therefore’. 

So you could say something like, “We have a coaching session coming up. Ergo, it would be a good idea to raise these issues at that time.”

Keep in mind, though, you have to be careful with Latin phrases. They’re best used sparingly and with audiences that are likely to be familiar with them, otherwise you run the risk of sounding pretentious

In my experience, ergo is commonly used enough that most people have an idea of what it means, and even if they don’t, context usually makes it obvious.

3) Arguably

Using arguably in a phrase, such as “these are arguably the best cheese fries I’ve ever had,” is a great way to improve your articulation. 

That’s because it allows you to offer an opinion while allowing for the possibility of other views.

Using arguably in a phrase helps you to demonstrate that you are open-minded and willing to be convinced of another person’s position, but that you also stand by your own opinions.

On the other hand, if you want to state your opinion more forcefully, you can use…

4) Unequivocal

Unequivocal is a wonderful word. It’s even fun to say.

Best of all, it can also be useful in a number of different contexts.

Unequivocal means total, or something expressed in a clear way.

So, you could be enjoying what are unequivocally the best cheese fries you’ve ever had. Or you could be giving your unequivocal support to a project you believe in.

Unequivocal is unequivocally a powerful word to add to your vocabulary to make you seem more articulate.

5) It’s a conundrum

It’s true that being articulate is often a matter of choosing the right word instead of several inferior ones. 

When you encounter a problem, you could say:

  • that’s a tough one
  • it’s tricky
  • it’s not going to be easy
  • I’m not sure about that

But why use all those words when you could use one as elegant and perfect as conundrum?

In its most common usage, a conundrum is a tricky problem. Life being the way it is, we encounter conundrums almost every day, so this is a great word to add to your vocabulary to make you seem more articulate.

6) To put it simply

As you’ve probably noticed by now, one of the best ways to be more articulate is to say more using fewer words. This phrase allows you to break down your point and make sure that the person you are talking to grasps exactly what you’re trying to say.

That makes it an excellent tool to use to improve your articulation.

Plus, this phrase is made of simple words that everybody understands. That means you can use it just about anywhere and still be understood.

7) Eclectic

This is a slightly fancier term for ‘varied’, but it has more going for it than just that.

To be eclectic is to adopt ideas, information, or preferences from a wide variety of different sources.

If you have both Taylor Swift and Metallica on your playlist, you could say that your musical taste is eclectic. If you use Steve Jobs and Sun Tzu as your inspiration at work, you have eclectic influences.

Although it may seem like a fancy word, eclectic allows you to replace a lot of other words to get your point across. Which sounds more articulate: saying “I like a lot of different kinds of music,” or saying, “I have eclectic taste”?

8) It’s imperative…

things you dont realize youre doing that make people uncomfortable around you 13 phrases that will make you sound more articulate than you actually are

No wonder people struggle to learn English. After all, so many words, like this one, have multiple meanings depending on how they are used.

An imperative can be a command. It can also mean a top priority when used in a phrase such as, “providing healthcare is a moral imperative.”

But probably the most useful way to use the term, and the way I want to talk about here, is in the phrase “it’s imperative.”

  • It’s imperative that we redesign the website from top to bottom.
  • It’s imperative that we get the word out about our new menu.
  • It’s imperative that we get the washing off the line before it rains.

In phrases like these, imperative means extremely important.

So once again, you can see how using the right word not only makes you seem more articulate, but also allows you to use fewer words to get your point across.

9) Proclivity

It’s imperative that I make this article easy to understand, despite my own proclivity for verbosity. 

Like most of the words on this list, proclivity seems simple, but there are nuances to its usage that make it an extremely flexible and useful part of an articulate person’s vocabulary.

Turns out, a proclivity is a preference. You can talk about customer proclivities or the proclivities of yourself, your friends, and your family.

But often, proclivity also has some level of judgment about it. Often, proclivity is used to describe a preference that other people don’t agree with. That makes this single word a powerful way to express disapproval of someone’s preferences in an articulate way.

10) The onus is on us

This one is fun to say and to write, but most importantly, it’s a way to make yourself sound more articulate and to get your point across in fewer words.

Onus means responsibility or duty, which makes this a great one to use in the workplace to accept responsibility for doing something. 

It’s also a much shorter word than ‘responsibility’, so it’s a great way to make your sentences more direct and impactful.

11) Glib

On the other hand, one thing you don’t want to do when trying to impress people with your articulate speech is to be glib.

Being glib means to say something confidently without having put much thought into it.

As you can see, this one short word can replace many other words, allowing you to be very specific and concise – a key to being articulate.

12) Stoic

You couldn’t be a philosopher – especially in the ancient world – without being articulate. And Stoic philosophy has given us this term, which means to not complain when something bad happens

Describing someone as stoic allows you to say something about their character in a single word that would normally take a whole sentence to get across. 

At the same time, it will make you seem much more articulate.

13) Lucid

Ultimately, clear and concise communication is the goal of anyone trying to be articulate. Ideally, you want to make your arguments and points as lucid as possible.

To be lucid means to clearly express something in a way anyone can understand. It can also mean to speak and think clearly, which are keys to being seen as an articulate person.

That means the word lucid can actually help you be more of what it describes.

Being articulate

As a writer, I know that language can open many doors, both professionally and personally.

Being articulate doesn’t necessarily mean using the biggest words you can, or phrases no one else understands.

Instead, the key to seeming more articulate than you really are is using the right word at the right time to get your point across as precisely as possible.

Work some of these phrases into your speech, and you’ll give people the impression of being highly articulate.

Picture of Ryan Frawley

Ryan Frawley

Ryan Frawley is a France-based writer with a passion for psychology, philosophy, science, and anything that attempts to answer life’s biggest questions.

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