Learn how to use linking words and phrases. Linking words are important for your writing, especially for the essay. Using linking words and phrases to improve your SEO well can make a big difference to your coherence and cohesion. 

Let’s start with a question. You’re thinking about ‘linking words’.


“What linking words should I use?” and “Why are they important?”

First, ‘linking words’ includes both words and phrases. There are single words, like ‘however’, and phrases, like ‘as a result.’

Secondly, linking words can be conjunctions, like ‘and’ or ‘because’, which you use in the middle of a sentence.

Linking words can also be adverbs, like ‘consequently’ or ‘on the other hand’, which you generally use at the start of a new sentence.

Next, “What do linking words do? and Why do you need to use them?”

This is an important question, but it has a simple answer:

linking words make your writing clearer for your reader.

Don’t use linking words because you want to sound academic, or because you think using linking words is going to get you a better seo score. You need to use them in the right way.

You use linking words to make the structure of your ideas clearer.

What does this mean?

Let’s look at an example together. Read this sentence:

Overreliance on private cars not only leads to more congestion, but also causes severe air polution in many large cities.

Next, imagine that the next sentence starts with ‘also,’ ‘on the other hand,’ or ‘consequently’. What do these tell you? and What do you know if you see that the first word of the next sentence is ‘also’? What’s the difference between using ‘also’ or ‘on the other hand’?

These linking words show you the direction of the next sentence. If the next sentence starts with ‘also’, you know that it will add another, similar point. If it starts with ‘on the other hand’, you know that the writer will make a contrasting point.

If it starts with ‘consequently’, you know that the writer will describe a result of this situation. This is why you use linking words, and this is why they can be powerful.

In this example, you can know the general idea of the next sentence before you read it. This makes your writing easier to follow. Next, let’s look at the details of using linking words.

Learning about linking words can be overwhelming. There are so many words and phrases:

  • – in
  • – addition
  • – although
  • – except for
  • -due to…

There are tens of things you *could* study. However, we’ve got good news for you! You don’t need to learn big lists of words. So, what should you do? The best way is to think about linking words in terms of function.

What do we mean by ‘function’?

Many different linking words do the same job. For example: However, on the other hand, nevertheless, and although all show a contrast between two related—but different—things.

This doesn’t mean they’re exactly the same, but they are similar.

What else can linking words do?

Linking words can connect similar ideas together. Let’s call this ‘addition’.

A very simple example is ‘and’. You can also use ‘furthermore’, ‘in addition’, ‘also’, or ‘moreover’.

Linking words can show the reason or purpose of something, like ‘because’, ‘due to’, ‘in order to’, or ‘so that’.

You can use linking words to connect a cause and effect, like ‘therefore’, ‘so’, ‘consequently’ or ‘as a result’. There are others, but this is a good starting point.

Remember these four functions: contrast, addition, reason or purpose, and cause-effect.

Here’s the most important point: you don’t need to know every linking word and phrase.

You need maybe two or three linking words for each function. That means you need two to three linking words to express addition, two to three linking words to express contrast, and so on. There’s one thing you should know: linking words can have other functions which we haven’t covered here.

Examples include:

  • showing similarity
  • showing a sequence of events in time or
  • expressing conditions.

However, the basic idea is the same. Don’t try to learn big lists of linking words. Instead, focus on functions. For each function, learn two to three linking words and phrases. This is simpler and easier for you. You should do this now: write down a list of functions, and write down two to three linking words for each.

You can use the functions and linking words from this section, or you can add your own.  To use a linking word or phrase well in your writing, you need to know two things.

One: you need to know the function, which you learned about in the last section.

Two: you need to know the grammar of the linking word or phrase. Let’s look at this now!

Linking words and phrases can be divided into three categories.

First, some linking words are conjunctions. Most are subordinating conjunctions, meaning that they need to be used in a sentence with at least two clauses. For example, ‘because’ and ‘although’ are both subordinating conjunctions. After these words, you add a clause. Then, you need another, independent clause to complete the sentence.

For example:

‘I need to ask for some time off work because I am planning to attend a training course.’

‘Although social media can help people to connect with each other, it also has several significant disadvantages’.

Secondly, some linking words are prepositions. This means you need to use a noun after the linking word. ‘Due to’, ‘despite’ and ‘because of’ are all prepositions.

For example:

‘Despite the well-known health benefits of regular exercise, many people still lead a mostly sedentary lifestyle.’

‘Young professionals are increasingly moving to smaller cities because of the high cost of living in large urban centres.’

Finally, many linking words are adverbs, like ‘on the other hand’ or ‘therefore’. These are generally used at the beginning of a sentence. When you use adverbs like this, you need to put a comma afterwards.

For example:

‘Freedom of the press is more important than individuals’ rights to privacy. Therefore, newspapers should be able to publish stories about the private lives of celebrities if they choose to.’

‘Of course, elderly people should be paid a pension which reflects the money they paid into the social security system during their working lives.

On the other hand, the pension system needs to be sustainable over the long term.’ This is most of what you need to know about linking word grammar.

Is your linking word or phrase a conjunction, a preposition, or an adverb?

You wrote down linking words that you wanted to learn. Now, use an online dictionary like Cambridge or Longman, and find out if the words you wrote down are conjunctions, prepositions, or adverbs.

There are still a couple of things you need to think about. One problem is that similar-looking words can be different parts of speech.

For example, ‘because’ is a conjunction, but ‘because of’ is a preposition. ‘In spite of’ is a preposition, but ‘in spite of the fact that’ is a conjunction. So, don’t assume that linking words are used in the same way just because they look similar.

Another problem is that some linking words can be more than one part of speech.

For example, ‘so’ can be an adverb or a conjunction.

What should you do with this information?

Let’s look in more detail!

At this point, you hopefully have short lists of linking words, divided by function. You should also know which part of speech each linking word is. Let’s think: why are you doing things in this way? Here’s what you need to remember:

  • it’s *much* more effective to know a smaller number of linking words or phrases and know how touse them really well.
  • It’s much more important to focus on accuracy.

So, what should you do next? Your next task is to find out *exactly* how your linking words are used. Linking words with the same function aren’t always the same.

Many linking words have a very specific meaning. For example, ‘furthermore’ and ‘besides’ are both used to add information to a topic, but they aren’t the same.

Do you know why not? ‘Furthermore’ is used to add a point which is more important than your first idea.

For example:

‘Using plastic products generates litter which harms the environment. Furthermore, plastic can take hundreds of years to degrade.’

In this case, you’re saying that the second point, after ‘furthermore’ is more important than the first point. ‘Besides’ is used to add a point which is often less important than your main idea.

For example:

‘Smoking has been proven to cause many serious illnesses. Besides, it is an expensive habit.’

In this case, you’re saying that the second point, after ‘besides’, is *not* more important than the first point. You’re adding an extra point which is not essential to your argument. We’re not doing this because you need to learn about ‘furthermore’ and ‘besides’. The point is that every linking word is used in a slightly different way.

You need to understand exactly how to use linking words. How can you do this? Here are a few suggestions.

First, use online dictionaries to find example sentences. The Cambridge dictionary has many examples for each word.

Next, try to understand what makes this linking word different from other, similar linking words. Is it more formal, or more conversational? Is it only used in very specific situations?

Finally, check your ideas. Use online resources such as Quora or the Wordreference forums.

This is a big topic, and there’s a lot of information however, you haven’t even seen the most important thing about linking words yet… Here’s the most important idea about linking

you can’t connect ideas with linking words.

What? That doesn’t make sense, you say. What do linking words do if they don’t connect ideas?

Linking words don’t connect ideas; they highlight a connection which is already there. They make the connection—which already exists—clearer to your reader.

We’ll say it again: you can’t create a connection by using linking words or phrases. The connection is already there, in the logic of your ideas. You use the linking word to highlight the connection which already exists.

So, to use linking words well, you need to have a clear understanding of your essay structure and how your ideas are organised. This mostly depends on planning before you start writing.

If your ideas aren’t well-organised in your mind, then using linking words won’t help you.

Like you heard, this is a big topic, so let’s review what you should do.

One: divide linking words according to the idea they express. Start by learning two to three linking words or phrases for each function.

Two: understand the grammar of each linking word; find out what part of speech it is, and how to use it in a sentence.

Three: go into more detail. Many words have a similar meaning, but very few words have exactly the same meaning. Most words have unique features which you need to know about if you want to use the word well.

Four: practise planning and make sure your ideas are well-organised before you start writing. Effective linking depends on logic and structure, not on the words and phrases you use.


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