Grammar. 14.10.2010
Grammar Teacher

Linking words and phrases

Автор: Grammar Teacher

In both essay writing and public speaking our goal is to convey information clearly and concisely or even to convert the reader or listener to our way of thinking. To achieve these goals you should remember to connect your ideas so that your audience can easily follow them. In other words you should use linking words and phrases, or transitions.
Read the following two paragraphs. How are they different?

Paragraph 1
There are many causes of air pollution. There is the use of private cars. This can cause many breathing problems because of fumes. Other forms of transport cause air pollution, these are buses, boats and motorcycles. Factories produce gasses that go into the air causing pollution. These things make people's health suffer.  
Paragraph 2
To begin with, there are many causes of air pollution. Firstly, there is the use of private cars. This can cause many breathing problems because of fumes. Furthermore, other forms of transport cause air pollution, for example buses, boats and motorcycles. In addition, factories produce gasses that go into the air causing pollution. All in all, these things make people's health suffer.
This is an example of how using linking words and phrases can improve the quality of your speech. Note how the ideas flow more smoothly, and the logical relationships between the ideas are expressed clearer in the second paragraph.Most pieces of formal writing and presentations are organised in a similar way: introduction, development of main ideas or arguments, and conclusion. Linking words and phrases act like bridges between parts of your writing. They join each part together as well as sentences and paragraphs within each part or even two ideas within one sentence. Transitions are not just verbal techniques that decorate your paper or speech by making them sound or read better. They are words with particular meanings that tell the reader (listener) to think and react in a particular way to your ideas.

And now let us take a closer look at words and phrases which you can use to link the parts of your presentation/essay together. These act as a signal to the audience/readers, telling them what they will hear/read next. They are divided in the following groups:

1. Sequence (послідовність)

There are natural sequences, like infancy followed by childhood, adolescence, maturity and old age. In language we can express sequences both by our choice of tenses, and by our choice of sequence words and phrases. Look at the chart below:

Beginning Going further Concluding
First of all
For a start
In the first place
To begin/start with
Let us begin/start by
First and foremost
First and most importantly
In the second place
And then

Summing up/to sum up 
To conclude/in summary
In short/in brief
On the whole
Last of all
Last but not the least


Such words as after, afterwards, before, currently, meanwhile, in the meantime, until , till, when, as soon as, soon after, etc. serve the same purpose when we’re indicating time sequence.

Here is an example of a specific sequence:

First, / To start with, / To begin with, / First of all… wash the wound with cold water.
Secondly, / After that, / Afterwards, / Then, / Next,… wrap a bandage around the cut.
Finally, / Lastly, / Last but not least, … place the patient in a comfortable position.

2. Addition to what has been previously indicated.

When stating your main points you may need to introduce additional ideas. Then use the following phrases:

Above all
Along with
As well as
Equally important
In addition
Not only . . . But also . . .
Not to mention
One could also say
What is more




Check these examples:

It was a brilliant game. What's more, we didn't have to pay to get in!
I don´t really want to go out tonight. Besides / in addition / furthermore, there is a good film on TV.
The painting is not only valuable but also a work of art.

3. Personal or other people’s opinion

To express your personal or somebody else’s point of view or to quote the authorities, use the following phrases:

Personal opinion Another source
In my opinion/In my view/To my mind
To my way of thinking
Personally I believe that/ I think that…
It strikes me that
I feel very strongly that
I’m inclined to believe that
It seems to me that
As far as I am concerned

It’s popularly believed that

People often claim that

It is often alleged that

Some people argue that

A lot of people think/believe that


I’m inclined to believe that, / It seems to me that, / As far as I am concerned, / I think that the world would be a much better place without nuclear power.

4. Comparison/Contrast

Sometimes you may like to compare what you’ve already stated with what you’re going to say next. Your ideas may seem similar or contrast with one another. Look at these sentences:
1. Alcohol reduces our ability to concentrate on our work. Similarly/ likewise/ in the same way, it reduces our ability to concentrate while driving.
2. It is a known fact that smoking causes cancer, yet,/ however, / nevertheless,/ but, / at the same time,/ still, / nonetheless millions of people around the world continue to smoke.

In the first sentence all the underlined phrases express the similarity of two ideas: alcohol badly affects our 1) work; 2) driving. In the second example the highlighted phrases help us make contrasting points: smoking is bad, but a lot of people don’t care.
Here are more of these phrases: 


Similarity Comparison/Contrast
Both… and …
Just like
In the same way
In the same manner
By the same token


Conversely\On the contrary
Even though\Although
In spite of\Despite
Differing from\In contrast\Instead
In comparison

In reality
On the one hand\On the other hand

  • Although /Though / While / Even though / Despite the fact that the identity of the attacker is known to the police, no name has been released. 
  •  I prefer city life, whereas John prefers country life.
  • Donahue established his reputation as a novelist. In contrast, his new book is a non-fiction work.

5. Emphasis (наголос, акцент)

If you want to stress a point, to emphasize what you say, use the following phrases:



In fact/actually
Of course /certainly/surely
No doubt/undoubtly
Needless to say
As a matter of fact
For this reason







See which effect they produce:




  • Clearly, / Obviously, / Of course, / Needless to say, if everyone were allowed to carry a gun, the crime rate would rise considerably.
  •  In fact, / As a matter of fact/, Actually/, Indeed, a crash helmet would be quite useless in the event of a serious motorcycle accident.

6. Clarification (роз’яснення)

In order to help your audience perceive your information better, especially when it’s quite sophisticated you may need to clarify your ideas, to make them easier for understanding or give some examples. For this use these linking phrases:




In other words
That is 
That is to say
To put in another way,
One example of this is
For example/for instance
Such as
As an illustration
To demonstrate
To illustrate

For example: In other words, / That is to say, / To put in another way, if people make more effort to protect the environment, the world would be a much healthier place to live in.

7. Result

These phrases help you to show the consequence or result of what has been said in the previous sentence or sentences.  They help to express relationships of cause and effect. To express these relationships we can choose one of the 3 following ways:

a) Conjunctions (сполучники)

The most important conjunctions are because, as, since, and so. Because, as, and since introduce a cause; so introduces an effect. These are used to join two complete sentences (or independent clauses) together:

I stayed at home because it was raining. 
Since it was raining, I stayed at home.
It was raining, so I stayed at home.

b) Transitions

The most important conjunctions are therefore, consequently, and as a result. All of these introduce an effect.

It was raining; therefore, I stayed at home. 
It was raining. Consequently, I stayed at home.



As a consequence 
For this/that reason

In that case
On account of this

c) Prepositions

The most important prepositions are due to and because of. Both of these introduce a cause in the form of a noun phrase.

I stayed at home due to the rain. 
Because of the rain, I stayed at home.



Thus, the effective usage of linking phrases can help connect your ideas logically. Using them fluently and confidently you’ll come across as a skilled speaker. BUT there are some tips you should consider:




  •   Don't over-use linking phrases. Use them sensibly where they are needed.
  •   Don't try to be clever by using more unusual words and phrases, you'll probably misuse them and get a lower score.
  •   Don't use the same phrases again and again. There must be a variety of them, so just make sure you a few common ones that are used with simple structures.

The following video will help you summarize the information about transition in spoken and written language:





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