Linking words and expressions

(Connecting text with linking words and expressions)

Table of contents – linking words

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Explanation about linking words
  2. Use and meaning
  3. Further explanations and exercises

What are linking words and expressions? What is their purpose?

Linking words or linking expressions (sometimes also called connecting words) are simply words and expressions that tie whole sentences, parts of sentences, phrases, or individual elements together to establish a smooth transition in a text. The term ‘linking’ means ‘connecting’ and stands for cohesion. Since the English language is quite rigid in its sentence structure, such words are needed to make the writing fluent and comfortably readable without making it appear hifalutin. In this way, the listener or reader can simply follow the flow of the argument. Since linking words are also a stylistic device for easily readable text, they appear much more often in written language than in spoken language.

Many of the linking words are conjunctions, adverbs, or prepositions and can be either single words or compound expressions.

How are linking words and expressions used and categorized?

Linking words and expressions can roughly be divided according to their purpose and meaning. Likewise, the following ones usually appear at the beginning of a clause to link or connect entire sentences. Connectors that mostly occur in the middle of a complex sentence are subordinate conjunctions in many cases. For their detailed usage, have a look at the article about subordinators. Compare the possible uses:

Text linkers serve to …

  • … list additions, something similar or not contrary:
    • first of all, first or firstly, second or secondly, third or thirdly
    • next, then, finally
    • in addition, moreover, furthermore
    • similarly, likewise
    • Example sentence:
      • “The university tuition fee can be paid monthly. In addition, students are granted free access to the online library.”
  • … express contrast and anything to the contrary:
    • but, however, nevertheless, nonetheless
    • in spite of, despite
    • in contrast, on the contrary, on the other hand, conversely
    • Example sentence:
      • “Prime Minister Johnson has denied all the allegations. In spite of that, people do not believe him.”
  • … clarify the reason and the purpose:
    • due to, owing to, as a result of, as a consequence of
    • therefore, for that reason, consequently
    • Example sentence:
      • “There has been a forest fire in the north of the country. As a consequence, smaller villages around the area have been evacuated.”
  • … show temporal relations:
    • in the beginning, at the beginning
    • at last, lastly, eventually
    • before, until, as soon as, while, during
    • Example sentence:
      • “Five houses had been burgled over three weeks. Eventually, the burglar was arrested.”
  • … formulate conclusions and summaries of previous information:
    • all in all, briefly, to sum up, to summarise, to conclude, concluding, in conclusion
    • Example sentence:
      • To conclude, I would like to thank you all very much and have a nice day.”

Further explanations relating to the ‘Linking words and expressions’

The following explanations are related to the topic ‘Connecting text with linking words and expressions in English’ and could therefore be interesting too: