A student asked me: Can I use the words pros and cons, leaps and bounds, merits and demerits?
Here's my simple answer:
No. I don't recommend using any of those words in your IELTS test. I never use them, so why would you use them? By the way, if you want to check whether I use a word, click here and follow the advice about how to search my website.
Here's a longer answer:
Why are you asking about those words? If you are studying vocabulary, you should be focusing on 'topic-specific' vocabulary, not 'generic' language (words and phrases that can be used in any essay). Linking words and other generic words or phrases might be necessary in terms of essay structure, but they don't help your vocabulary score. That's why, for linking and organisation, I prefer to use 'normal' vocabulary like firstly, secondly, finally, however, on the one hand, on the other hand, furthermore, advantages, disadvantages, benefits, positives etc. There is no need to find less common alternatives for these words and phrases.
Finally, a quick explanation:
- "pros and cons" is a bit too informal for IELTS writing.
- "leaps and bounds" is an informal phrase that we use to talk about improvements e.g. "Since living in the UK, my English has come on in leaps and bounds" (meaning: my English has improved a lot). You might be able to use this in the speaking test, but don't use it in an essay.
- "merits and demerits" is not a good alternative for "advantages and disadvantages". I've never used the word "demerits" in my life.