In this study guide, you will learn how to use linking words in English. You will discover the meaning of common linking words and learn how to use them in a sentence. Examples are provided to show you the sentence position and use of common linking words in English. Check out the exercises at the end to test your understanding!
What you will learn:
Discourse markers (‘linkers’) are words or phrases that we use to make links between words in a sentence. These discourse markers are used in both spoken and written English.
Here we will focus on discourse markers in writing and formal spoken English – commonly known as ‘linking words’. Linkers are a way of making connections between ideas and sentences.
Informal linking words are used in spoken English. You can link your ideas with words and phrases like: I mean, honestly, after all, besides and in any case. It is useful to learn which linking words are most appropriate in formal and informal situations. In an email, you might choose linking words such as so, but, and because. These should already be familiar.
In an essay, you are more likely to choose formal linkers, such as therefore, however, consequently, on the contrary and moreover. There are some linking words that are so formal that you may choose not to use them at all in your writing. Examples include: thus, hence and nonetheless.
Many linking words are used at the beginning of a sentence, while others can be used in the middle or at the end. Words and phrases connected with sequencing and structure appear at the start of a sentence. Examples include: first, secondly, finally and in conclusion. Adverbs, which express the writer’s opinion, also occur at the start of a sentence, for example evidently and obviously.
Linking words can be used between clauses, in the middle of the sentence. Examples include: words that contrast ideas (however, although), show consequence (therefore, as a result), and phrases that add more information (moreover, furthermore). A few linking words can be placed at the end of the sentence. Look at the following example: Learning a second language is motivating. It can be very difficult, however.
The use of punctuation with some linking words and phrases is important. Some grammar books provide you with specific rules about punctuation and clauses in a sentence. The most important reason for using punctuation in a sentence is so the reader can understand your intended meaning.
Punctuation, particularly commas, should help the reader to identify clauses in your writing and lead to a clearer understanding of the text. Look at these two example sentences – which is easier to understand?
A: To conclude the cars of the future are likely to be more environmentally friendly however this change may take many years to implement and moreover will require the support of the general public.
B: To conclude, the cars of the future are likely to be more environmentally friendly, however, this change may take many years to implement and, moreover, will require the support of the general public.
Linking words are very important in written texts. Without them, your writing may be disconnected and difficult to read. In English examinations, students are often graded on their ability to write cohesive sentences. Therefore, learning how to use linking words correctly is an important skill in learning English as a second language. The examples below will help you to understand the meaning of linking words in written texts and to improve your own linking skills!
Conjunctions are a familiar group of linking words, which join two clauses in a sentence, such as but, because or however. In fact, linking words have many different functions in a sentence and range from single words to phrases of up to four words. The categories below show the most common types of linking words.
First, secondly, subsequently, finally
Words like first, second and finally appear at the start of a sentence. They help the reader to navigate their way through the text. They are used in essays but also in instructions, for example recipes.
In addition, also, furthermore, what is more
These linking words are used to give additional information or to strengthen our argument.
Similarly, equally, likewise
We use these linking words to add further examples or to make connections between ideas.
For example, for instance, e.g., such as
Use these linking words to give examples.
Consequently, therefore, as a result, hence
These linking words can be used to describe how one idea logically follows another.
On the whole, generally, in general
These linking words are usually positioned at the start of a sentence. They are used before a general statement.
To sum up, in summary, to summarise, to conclude, in conclusion
These types of phrases are commonly used to start the final section of an essay. They are also used in formal spoken English, for example a speech or the TV news, to signal to the listener that the speech is coming to an end.
However, on the other hand, conversely, in contrast, rather, while, whereas
These linking words are used to introduce an idea or argument that contrasts with what has been said before. In an essay, they are useful for introducing, for example, the disadvantages in an advantages and disadvantages essay. The use of rather in this context is very formal.
In fact, as a matter of fact, actually
These types of linking words can be used to signal to the reader that the writer’s meaning is different to what the reader expects.
Although, despite, in spite of, even though
These linking words are used to show that we acknowledge another person’s opinion, even if we may not agree with it.
The list below includes all the commonly used linking words in written English. Example sentences are also provided to help you understand them in context.
Additionally, students should complete at least 3 hours of homework per week.
As a result
In recent years, few students have studied languages at school. As a result, the number of people taking language courses at degree level has decreased.
It is important to adjust your mirrors, but do not do this while driving your car.
John did not study hard for his exams. Consequently, his grades was disappointing.
People who have no savings often have trouble when applying for bank loans. Conversely, those who already have savings find it much easier to get credit.
Studying languages face-to-face has a positive impact on learning. Equally, online learning can allow students to progress quickly.
Firstly, secondly, etc.
Firstly, we’d like to say a warm welcome to all our new undergrads. Secondly, we’d like to remind you that students should attend all lectures on time for the duration of the semester.
You should wear suitable clothing for this trip. For example, a waterproof coat and a warm hat.
You can substitute some ingredients in this recipe. For instance, honey can be used instead of sugar.
In my opinion, the government should provide adequate guidance on physical exercise. Furthermore, I believe it has a duty to advise the public on health and diet.
Generally, working from home is less stressful and more productive than working in a noisy office.
Mark had inherited a lot of money from his grandmother; hence the large house.
Sports facilities, such as gyms and swimming pools, help people to keep fit. However, people also need motivation to help them improve their health.
As a community, we should do more to improve our wellbeing. In addition, the government should start a new advertising campaign to promote health and fitness nationwide.
In conclusion, the advantages of tourism outweigh the disadvantages.
Working from home can save time and money. In contrast, commuting long distances to work every day can be time-consuming and expensive.
We didn’t enjoy the film. In fact, it was pretty terrible!
In general, working from home is more convenient than travelling to the office.
Young children are influenced by the people around them, in particular their parents.
In spite of this
Tony was not offered a place at his chosen university. In spite of this, he achieved a first class degree and went on to have a successful career.
Squirrels feed on hard grains and nuts, using their sharp front cutting teeth to break up their food. Likewise, rats are able to gnaw through hard materials.
Children from less affluent households were reported to read less. Moreover, children who did not have books in the house were found to be much more likely to have a low reading age.
You should try to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and reduce your fat intake. Nevertheless, any changes you can make to your diet will have a positive effect.
The disadvantages of living in a city include noise and pollution. Nonetheless, the majority of people still choose to live in urban areas.
On the contrary
On the contrary, many students chose universities that showed a good standard of teaching rather than a high ranking.
On the other hand
Tourism can have a positive effect on the wealth of a country. On the other hand, it can also have a negative impact on the environment.
On the whole
On the whole, most students prefer informal tutorial groups to large group lectures.
Rob wasn’t successful in the interview, rather he was given some advice on improving his application.
I really love Spanish culture, so I’m looking forward to my trip to Madrid next month.
Stringed instruments, such as the violin and the cello, are among the most difficult to learn.
Sue broke her leg. Therefore, she was unable to attend work for a month.
The availability of high-sugar and high-fat foods has had an impact on people’s health; thus, the rate of obesity is increasing.
To conclude, a child’s home background has a dramatic effect on their educational achievement.
To summarise, consumer habits are changing: there has been a marked increase in the amount of clothing and technology sold online during the pandemic.
To sum up
To sum up, learning a new skill, like a language, can be challenging, but it is also rewarding.
Similarly, increasing the price of fuel and raising parking charges may discourage people from driving into city centres.
Digital technology has made working from home easier. Still, many people prefer the social contact of going to their workplace.
What is more
Too much screen time may affect children’s activity levels. What is more, extended time spent using electronic devices may have a negative impact on their eyesight.
Boys tend to develop physical skills, such as jumping, at a young age, whereas girls tend to develop fine motor skills.
While men still make up the largest proportion of students on science courses, the number of women is steadily increasing.
The penalties for breaking the law are high, yet some people continue to commit crimes.