As I wrote in my last post, one of the things the IELTS examiner is looking for is evidence that you can use a “wide range of structures flexibly” and a “wide vocabulary resource readily and flexibly” for Grammatical range and accuracy and Lexical resource respectively. I made a couple of suggestions regarding alternative ways to express your opinion, but the main part of the post was focusing on how to avoid using, or overusing I should say, the conjunction “because”.
In this post I shall take the previous examples a little further and give some more sample sentences with alternatives to “I think”. I will break this down into sections, clear opinion, no clear opinion, neutral opinion, etc. so, let’s begin.
Q: “Do you think family relationships are important?”
A: I think they are, yes, actually….”
A: “Certainly, you know, family is the most important thing….”
A: “To my mind family comes first in all things….”
A: “In my opinion family is most important….”
A: “I feel quite strongly that the family unit is….”
A: “In my view, yes, undoubtedly…”
A: “I believe that, yes….”
A: “As far as I am concerned there’s no doubt about it…”
A: “From my point of view….”
A: “From my perspective, I would say yes….”
A: “To my way of thinking, definitely…”
A: “It seems to me that...”
Also, don’t forget that in English, with some expressions we can intensify what we mean by using modifiers such as “really”, “very”, and “quite”.
A: “I really believe/think that…”
A: “I am quite sure/certain that…”
Q: “What do you think are the benefits of walking as exercise?”
A: “I suppose there are several, I mean….”
A: “I reckon there could be many benefits…”
A: “I guess there are a few good reasons….”
A: I’m not so sure about that one, possibly the act of walking is…”
A: “I don’t really have an opinion on that to be honest…”
A: “It’s not something I’ve given much thought about to be honest…”
Q: “What do you think are the qualities of a leader?”
A: “Some people might argue that those qualities are…”
A: “It could be said that a leader is a person who…”
A: “It is commonly believed that a good leader is a person….”
A: “Most people would probably say that a leader is a person who…”
Qualifying an opinion
Q: “Do you think that art adds anything to people’s lives?
A: “It’s hard to say, maybe I should explain myself…”
A: “I am not sure, that is to say….”
A: “I don’t have a strong opinion on this, but probably…”
A: “It depends, I mean to say…”
So, there you go, plenty of examples there. What I would suggest is that, you familiarise yourself with these phrases and play about with them and try to get used to changing them about a little. Mix things up as much as possible. As the criteria say, you need to demonstrate a wide range of structures so try to use a different one every time, but whatever you do, try to avoid the trap of “I think…because”. It may be simpler and easier to remember but the IELTS is an opportunity for you to show your language skills and repeating the same phrases over and over will not cut it in the examiners eyes.