IELTS, TOEFL & TOEIC essay writing: avoid making 'all or nothing' statements

ScottsEnglishScottsEnglish Administrator Posts: 1,093 admin ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
edited July 18 in Writing
What does 'all or nothing' mean?  It means making strong, assertive statements with no other point of view option.

Here are some 'all or nothing' words:

absolutely, definitely, obviously, always, never, completely

They are usually not suitable in academic writing because they do not allow for the possibility of another point of view. Instead of using 'all or nothing' words, use the following:




Modal Verbs





in general


It is (quite) possible


It is probable that…


It seems that…

I suggest that…

I tend to think that…

It appears that…


There might be…

It may be…

There could be

Consider this example:

Shorter hours in class are definitely the key to children's creative development.

The problem here is that this is an 'all or nothing' statement.  A more suitable way to express the sentence above would be:

Studies suggest that shorter hours in formal classes give children the chance to improve their creative thinking.

Note: 'All or nothing' statements are also referred to as 'blanket statements'.

For further practice, go here.


  • ScottsEnglishScottsEnglish Administrator Posts: 1,093 admin ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 2016
    Practice: Change the following 'all or nothing' statement into a more appropriate academic statement:

    Mobile phones are absolutely the cause of most traffic accidents.

    Please post your answers below...

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