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The Academic Formulas List (AFL) Common academic word sequences

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This page describes the Academic Formulas List (AFL), explaining what it is and giving a full list of the AFL. There is also, in another section, an AFL highlighter which can be used to highlight AFL words in a text.

What is the AFL?

The Academic Formulas List (AFL) is a list of the most common formulaic sequences in academic English. It can be seen as a formulaic companion to the Academic Word List (AWL), consisting of formulas (recurring word sequences three to five words long) rather than single words. It was developed by Rita Simpson-Vlach and Nick C. Ellis from the University of Michigan. There are three separate lists: one for formulas that are common in both academic spoken and academic written language (the 'core' AFL), one for those which are special to academic spoken language, and one for those which are special to academic written language. The core list has 207 entries, while the spoken and written lists each have 200 entries, making 607 in total. The lists are prioritised according to a special measure of usefulness, devised by the researchers who made the list, called the formula teaching worth (FTW). Some of the phrases in the AFL also contain words in the AWL, e.g. the word consequence in the phrase as a consequence, though most of the words in the formulas list are from the GSL. Studying these formulas will provide another way to build up your academic vocabulary.

The Academic Formulas List

The 607 formulas in the AFL are listed below. The 207 formulas in the core list are given first, followed by the 200 formulas in the spoken list, and finally the 200 formulas in the written list.

Core AFL (Written and Spoken)

These formulas are common in both written and spoken English.

Number  Formula  Freq per
million (speech) 
Freq per
million (writing) 
1in terms of3372823.53
2at the same time92982.56
3from the point of view11142.44
4in order to1532552.35
5as well as682552.08
6part of the2012161.96
7the fact that1782031.96
8in other words146891.9
9the point of view of10151.89
10there is a1432231.72
11as a result of26751.58
12this is a305761.57
13on the basis of23821.5
14a number of882151.5
15there is no501851.45
16point of view82601.41
17the number of792461.38
18the extent to which10521.36
19as a result611251.35
20in the case of321351.32
21whether or not59811.31
22the same time961041.26
23with respect to441041.26
24point of view of13151.22
25as a function of19361.19
26at the same1091171.19
27the point of view17151.13
28in such a way13191.11
29the use of272701.11
30in other words the22181.08
31in terms of the56671.07
32more likely to42761.06
33likely to be371151.03
34in this case87911.03
35as opposed to53401.02
36the way in which27390.94
37based on the301340.91
38can be used13890.87
39the relationship between21750.87
40it is not331880.81
41and so on153680.79
42on the basis24940.75
43the difference between44380.74
44it may be45870.72
45the presence of211300.7
46in the sense that34220.7
47a variety of26910.69
48different types of24280.69
49extent to which10540.66
50exactly the same43170.65
51a series of23870.63
52in relation to12910.63
53it can be55970.63
54the case of391680.62
55in the case361530.62
56large number of10350.62
57that there is a23410.61
58to some extent26180.6
59that there is691160.59
60the real world19180.57
61is based on17590.56
62due to the211270.55
63ways in which23370.54
64an example of61410.54
65the fact that the15580.54
66referred to as11310.52
67may not be33490.52
68way in which45540.51
69it does not13680.48
70from the point of11150.47
71the development of261210.46
72in the same89880.46
73a result of33860.46
74the basis of271080.45
75the role of251210.43
76there may be26320.43
77difference between the15330.42
78between the two33680.41
79the size of the17320.41
80the importance of20940.4
81that there are63630.39
82as a function19360.34
83associated with the12540.31
84the amount of50660.3
85a function of34600.29
86as an example11210.27
87for example if20190.26
88such as the121050.26
89based on a16360.26
90as part of21610.25
91this is not67620.25
92in which the271660.24
93the effect of201100.24
94in response to14570.22
95related to the21770.22
96each of these24330.21
97the effects of181000.21
98terms of the58790.2
99we can see26120.2
100there are three10150.2
101for example the17840.18
102according to the20700.18
103the existence of14630.18
104the concept of21700.18
105in this way17670.17
106focus on the17280.16
107the nature of19850.15
108the context of15890.15
109a list of31320.15
110this type of18400.14
111such a way13190.13
112the ability to25540.13
113the idea that59380.13
114a set of21680.11
115other words the22180.11
116parts of the32540.09
117nature of the18770.09
118the level of31770.05
119this would be41180.05
120is that the117940.04
121is much more11170.04
122the same as44400.04
123to show that22370.04
124there is an20410.03
125the notion of18490.03
126in the sense52380
127in the context11610
128the process of3768-0.01
129is not a4381-0.02
130both of these2312-0.03
131for example in1136-0.03
132the part of the1324-0.05
133the size of2846-0.06
134the form of2378-0.06
135the sum of1831-0.08
136the reason for1629-0.09
137a and b1648-0.1
138that this is9133-0.11
139fact that the1763-0.11
140this is an5419-0.12
141because it is2241-0.13
142have the same3823-0.15
143part of a2049-0.18
144the question of2464-0.19
145of these two1820-0.21
146the value of1660-0.21
147assume that the1123-0.21
148size of the1939-0.21
149in such a1846-0.21
150the distribution of1039-0.22
151of the same3270-0.22
152the meaning of1040-0.23
153view of the2051-0.23
154each of the1877-0.24
155which is not2127-0.25
156the issue of1636-0.25
157but this is4324-0.26
158if this is4021-0.27
159the rate of1447-0.27
160that we are3030-0.31
161with the same2025-0.31
162the result of1147-0.31
163the problem of1955-0.31
164is to be1685-0.32
165the study of1259-0.32
166which is the7134-0.33
167the definition of1623-0.33
168here is that3811-0.35
169from the point1116-0.35
170a form of1230-0.36
171the frequency of1326-0.37
172the order of3627-0.37
173the way that5815-0.37
174function of the1535-0.37
175of the two2973-0.39
176different from the1319-0.39
177the structure of1436-0.42
178what are the6013-0.42
179is that it4447-0.42
180the way in3040-0.42
181to use the2742-0.44
182be the case1517-0.45
183means that the1325-0.48
184value of the1334-0.49
185of the system1641-0.5
186of view of1318-0.51
187the work of1151-0.54
188example of a2313-0.54
189is the case1325-0.55
190is that there2319-0.58
191of the second1532-0.58
192the change in1517-0.58
193so that the3857-0.59
194is not the2756-0.6
195the area of1124-0.61
196form of the1130-0.62
197that is the6552-0.63
198and in the5485-0.64
199and the second2016-0.66
200of the fact1523-0.67
201the first is1026-0.7
202that in the6146-0.77
203and the same1717-0.84
204out that the1415-0.91
205the example of1411-0.93
206that in a3213-1.08
207is for the1611-1.29

Spoken AFL

These formulas are common in spoken English.

Number  Formula  Freq per
million (speech) 
Freq per
million (writing) 
1be able to256992.96
2blah blah blah2902.92
3this is the340602.77
4you know what I mean6422.27
5you can see20912.12
6trying to figure out1912.05
7a little bit about4702
8does that make sense2901.99
9you know what22821.99
10the university of michigan3501.98
11for those of you who1801.98
12do you want me to1401.96
13thank you very much2601.95
14look at the197241.95
15we're gonna talk about2001.95
16talk a little bit1901.92
17if you look at8001.89
18and this is248201.87
19if you look at the2701.8
20no no no no3101.78
21at the end of89601.74
22we were talking about2301.65
23in ann arbor1901.62
24it turns out that2441.61
25you need to18201.61
26see what I'm saying1701.6
27take a look at3111.58
28you have a21541.57
29might be able to2061.56
30at the end137661.48
31you want to17171.46
32to do with165431.44
33nothing to do with2291.43
34know what I mean6531.42
35you look at13711.42
36university of michigan4401.42
37what I'm talking about1301.41
38the same thing12281.35
39to look at131201.34
40the end of1581101.33
41gonna be able to1801.32
42we're talking about6101.28
43to figure out what1211.27
44so if you17001.24
45so this is17301.23
46if you want to5921.23
47no no no8601.23
48if you have16001.22
49come up with a1711.21
50we talked about7201.2
51when you look at2201.2
52in order to get2341.19
53the end of the88591.19
54oh my god3201.17
55come up with6831.16
56I was gonna say2601.16
57and then you17011.16
58a kind of150241.16
59it doesn't matter5101.15
60has to do with3131.14
61you can look at2501.13
62do you want me1601.12
63little bit about4801.12
64if you look11701.1
65I just wanted to2801.1
66you're talking about5701.08
67what does that mean2201.08
68the best way to1871.08
69if you want11231.06
70you know what i7321.05
71we've talked about2401.05
72we'll talk about3401.03
73let me just4401.02
74I was talking about1401.02
75has to be115451.01
76to talk about9391
77it turns out3971
78those of you who2700.99
79you might want to1900.99
80first of all97110.98
81and so on and so1700.98
82there was a125540.97
83at the university of2280.97
84yes yes yes3000.97
85you can see that4500.96
86I have a question3100.96
87it has to be3760.93
88we need to102300.92
89what I'm saying5800.92
90you want me to2200.92
91all sorts of5010.91
92as you can see2000.9
93to figure out5340.9
94keep in mind2230.9
95what do you mean2900.89
96it looks like6610.88
97let's look at3800.87
98you look at the4100.87
99to make sure5760.86
100if you wanted to1900.85
101make sure that5670.84
102end up with3840.84
103and you can see3900.84
104came up with3110.84
105doesn't have to be1700.83
106I mean if you4100.83
107you've got a5800.83
108gonna talk about4100.82
109how many of you1700.82
110I mean if10400.81
111look at it8020.81
112piece of paper1620.81
113and so forth60170.8
114and you can14230.79
115looking at the84120.79
116we're gonna talk2300.79
117go back to the2240.79
118you know what I'm2400.76
119that you can13610.76
120we're looking at2600.76
121what I mean10260.74
122do you know what3110.73
123how do you know2020.73
124you don't need to2010.73
125you're looking at3200.72
126turns out that2840.72
127it could be84230.72
128figure out what2610.72
129if you've got3200.72
130I wanted to8430.71
131you could you could1500.71
132might be able2060.7
133trying to figure2010.7
134what you're saying4000.67
135we have to117200.67
136I'm talking about3200.67
137so you can11400.66
138this kind of95230.65
139don't worry about1300.65
140it's gonna be7000.64
141if you have a4500.64
142wanna talk about2100.64
143so you can see1800.64
144I want you to3700.63
145to look at the2770.63
146to each other46240.62
147the kind of119240.62
148at this point54310.61
149one of these88240.6
150and if you13220.6
151you think about it2600.59
152talk about the7420.59
153it might be64360.59
154for those of you2300.59
155to do with the43180.59
156I'm not gonna4500.58
157was talking about3800.58
158have to do with2020.58
159tell me what2510.57
160look at this5710.57
161in a sense74150.56
162okay I don't know1400.56
163I'll talk about1400.56
164you need to do1500.56
165do you want6930.55
166we talk about4100.54
167any questions about1400.53
168come back to3710.53
169you can see the2800.53
170the reason why3680.52
171it in terms of1420.52
172what I want to1730.52
173we looked at2230.51
174if you wanna6400.51
175take a look4110.5
176if you were to2200.5
177I'll show you2100.49
178talking about the6430.49
179that make sense3110.49
180this is this is3900.48
181how do we5950.48
182we were talking2600.48
183wanna look at1900.48
184you're trying to3800.47
185a look at6150.47
186if you were7630.47
187you're interested in2100.47
188to think about8150.46
189gonna be able1800.46
190by the way6540.45
191we look at4370.45
192I think this is2600.45
193but if you9420.45
194at some point2470.44
195I'm gonna go2400.44
196thank you very2700.43
197can look at3400.43
198what happens is4000.43
199on the board3030.42
200um let me1700.42

Written AFL

These formulas are common in written English.

Number  Formula  Freq per
million (speech) 
Freq per
million (writing) 
1on the other hand401192.84
2due to the fact that2132.64
3on the other hand the3242.55
4it should be noted0172.51
5it is not possible to0152.44
6a wide range of4312.42
7there are a number of5142.41
8in such a way that9112.32
9take into account the2112.27
10as can be seen0151.79
11it is clear that3331.72
12take into account8191.7
13can be used to5451.64
14in this paper we0141.64
15are likely to7611.61
16in the next section0151.6
17a large number of7221.59
18the united kingdom1251.57
19on the basis of the4231.57
20that there is no5321.56
21over a period of5131.55
22as a result of the5171.55
23can be seen in0171.52
24a wide range6331.51
25there are a number6141.47
26it is interesting to0151.47
27it is impossible to0121.47
28it is obvious that0111.46
29it is possible to2481.46
30it is not possible1181.45
31been carried out0171.45
32can be found in0181.45
33it is important to1431.4
34was carried out0261.39
35is likely to be3381.38
36wide range of5361.37
37the same way as5151.37
38due to the fact2131.36
39in accordance with the2121.36
40it is necessary to1261.35
41the other hand411201.35
42can be seen6871.35
43it is likely that0181.31
44such a way that9111.22
45to carry out7291.22
46it is possible that0191.22
47with respect to the6371.2
48give rise to3191.18
49carried out by2201.17
50whether or not the3181.13
51in the present study0111.11
52should be noted0181.07
53be carried out1181.06
54the other hand the3241.06
55does not appear1131.04
56his or her3341.01
57is not possible to0150.99
58shown in figure0400.96
59be used as a0170.95
60for the purposes of1240.95
61be regarded as1400.94
62to ensure that the0170.93
63allows us to7150.93
64it has been12790.92
65little or no3160.9
66carried out in0250.9
67to distinguish between1210.88
68in accordance with6260.88
69they do not6560.88
70at this stage7330.88
71is based on the3220.88
72shown in table0300.87
73in the absence of5410.86
74we have seen5260.83
75to determine whether2160.82
76in the context of7570.79
77a high degree1130.78
78the difference between the8140.78
79an increase in the6130.78
80it is possible6830.77
81can be achieved0170.77
82insight into the0160.77
83can be expressed1230.75
84we assume that5200.75
85they did not6260.73
86there has been8330.72
87on the part of8310.7
88in this paper4620.7
89the purpose of this2130.7
90less likely to5230.68
91a large number9230.67
92can easily be0150.67
93with regard to4400.66
94there are several6180.66
95over a period5140.66
96in this case the8270.66
97in conjunction with6230.65
98at the time of7320.65
99we do not4380.64
100has been used4200.63
101appears to be9530.63
102to do so23550.63
103there are no21390.62
104on the other771470.62
105has also been1250.61
106it is worth0200.61
107can be found1330.61
108the next section1190.6
109are a number of6140.6
110this paper we0160.6
111be seen as8440.6
112be related to the1120.59
113to ensure that5440.59
114it is important3660.59
115be explained by0150.58
116same way as5150.58
117see for example0200.58
118the presence of a1240.58
119that it is not3170.58
120in some cases19320.58
121to the fact that10230.57
122high levels of6170.56
123most likely to3260.56
124it appears that6290.56
125it follows that1310.55
126can also be6520.55
127it is clear3390.54
128by virtue of6250.54
129the most important21530.53
130an attempt to12290.53
131it is impossible1170.53
132factors such as0140.53
133is consistent with0290.53
134total number of2200.53
135similar to those0220.52
136as part of the8260.52
137can be considered0180.52
138at the outset3110.51
139in more detail3130.51
140should not be6510.51
141could be used4190.51
142appear to be7470.5
143as a consequence3240.5
144in this article3280.5
145assumed to be1390.49
146in the form of9460.48
147as a whole26430.48
148important role in2130.47
149it is interesting1180.46
150does not have9250.46
151none of these6150.46
152as shown in0660.45
153is likely to9800.45
154this means that6360.45
155be noted that0210.45
156be achieved by0130.45
157depends on the18440.44
158at least in19350.44
159a small number4120.43
160in table 10290.43
161in most cases3170.43
162depending on the14290.41
163in both cases5170.41
164the validity of the1180.41
165small number of5180.4
166their ability to7190.4
167need not be0250.4
168needs to be30450.4
169have shown that2300.39
170it is necessary2340.39
171been shown to2310.39
172such as those0210.39
173are as follows0160.38
174for this purpose1150.38
175is determined by3230.38
176it is difficult0270.37
177even though the8210.37
178this does not4280.37
179was based on7190.37
180the nature of the8430.37
181in the course of13270.37
182degree to which1260.37
183be argued that0170.36
184in terms of a8150.36
185for this reason3210.36
186are based on9240.36
187in a number of7190.36
188two types of7210.34
189the total number4180.34
190is more likely5190.34
191which can be7570.34
192are able to7370.32
193be considered as0220.32
194be used to8770.31
195b and c5170.31
196depend on the7300.3
197is that it is3190.3
198is affected by0110.3
199should also be2180.3
200if they are10330.3


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Sheldon Smith

Author: Sheldon Smith    ‖    Last modified: 28 January 2022.

Sheldon Smith is the founder and editor of He has been teaching English for Academic Purposes since 2004. Find out more about him in the about section and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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