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Vocabulary Workshop – Showing in Other Words

In this post, you’ll learn about some words you can use to replace “show” when summarizing or introducing supporting examples, whether in independent or integrated questions.



You probably are familiar with “demonstrate” already. It means “to clearly show by giving proof or evidence.” It’s a great word to use when talking about how a lecturer supports his/her point with an example, or when you’re drawing conclusions about someone’s beliefs/opinions from other information.

“The male student’s reluctance to do the extra assignments demonstrates his poor commitment to improving his grade in the course.”

“The professor demonstrates the characteristics of domesticated animals by comparing pairs of wild and domesticated animals.”



To accentuate is to make something more noticeable.

“The trend of replacing traditional materials with new technologies like tablets and interactive whiteboards even in elementary schools accentuates our growing dependence on technology in our everyday life.”

“The student accentuates the low quality of her partners’ work on the project by bringing the professor her notes from their last group meeting.”



Exemplify is a strong word that you’ll have many opportunities to use on the TOEFL.  It means “to be a strong or typical example of something.” You can use it when you introduce a good supporting example (only use it for the strongest of your examples, if you’re giving several), like this:

“My father exemplifies the American Dream: he grew up in a poor neighborhood, had to work two jobs throughout high school and college to support himself and his family, and is now a successful lawyer.”

“According to the reading passage, the painting Judith Beheading Holofernes exemplifies Caravaggio’s style.”



The literal meaning of “illustrate” has to do with drawing to accompany or tell a story. You can use it figuratively to talk about how an example relates to the idea it, well, illustrates. We often use “illustrate” with “point,” but you can use it in a wide variety of contexts.

“The case of Brown vs. Board of Education illustrates the professor’s point that a legal decision doesn’t always lead to immediate social change.”

“The professor illustrates her point with examples from recent events in the news.”



The word “prove” should be used with caution. It means “to show something beyond a doubt.” So it’s best to use it only in contexts where there is no doubt, especially in scientific and mathematical subjects. If you’re tempted to use it in other contexts, consider using “demonstrate” or “illustrate” instead, since these words don’t imply the same level of conclusiveness.

“The belief that the earth was flat, which had been considered a fact for centuries, was eventually proven incorrect.”

“My experience living in the country proved to me that a hard life is not necessarily a bad one.”


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