Phd student studying at home
Linking words (discourse markers) add depth and maturity to any
piece of academic text you may read and/or write. They can help to show
a linguistic connection between 2 units of text and help focus a
reader's attention on a particular area. In addition, they help a
writer to achieve cohesion. Without them, sentences can seem
unnaturally short and in some cases, unconnected. However, overuse of
linking words can also lead to a text seeming unnatural and mechanical.
Striking a happy medium is paramount to successful academic writing.
'Linking words' fall into several different grammatical categories and therefore follow different rules of grammar and convention. The following Learning Object has been designed with this in mind. It aims to familiarise you with basic linking words and explain some of the rules connected with different linkers. It will then guide you through a series of exercises so that you are provided with opportunities to practice what you have learnt.
To categorise linkers/markers into groups so that they can be learnt
To explain some of the basic grammar connected to various linking words/discourse markers
To provide you with opportunities to practise what you have learnt.
How many different linking words do you already know and use in your
For example: 'therefore'.
Write your answers in the box beneath and then compare it with the list in the feedback section.
Typical linking words that are popular with students are:
therefore, however, furthermore, moreover, in addition.
Linking words which are useful but less commonly used by students:
Nevertheless, thus, nonetheless, although, hence, in spite of, despite.
Any good internet search will help you to find more linking words.
This activity is designed to allow you to notice the differences in
the functions different discourse markers have.
They can be separated into several groups.
Group the following words according to their function. You will find their functions in the drop down list.
Adding new information
Presessional courses improve international students' English in addition to preparing for educational culture in UK HE.
Universities foster students' intelligence. Furthermore, they enable students to become experts in their field.
To show degrees of contrast
While some students find writing English very easy, others find it very difficult.
Whereas the weather in Saudi Arabia is hot and dry, the weather in the UK is cold and wet.
As a result
People in the world today are consuming too many fossil fuels. As a result, they are predicted to run out over the course of the next 50 years.
The ice caps of the Antartic and Arctic are melting. Therefore sea levels are expected to rise to dangerous and life threatening levels.
Many international students lack the necessary formal vocabulary to write academic essays. Consequently, they attend insessional classes.
In spite of this
To add an unexpected result and/or surprising result or to
show contrast between 2 ideas.
Students are sometimes put off by the large word count associated with dissertations. However, they often find that they have too much to say and ultimately that it isn't large enough.
On the other hand
On the contrary
To show complete contrast
In many countires University education is free. In contrast, students in the UK have to pay fees.
Germany is a landlocked country. Conversely, the UK is an Island.
List ideas in order of time
My mother was born in England, but subsequently acquired Australian citizenship.
The people of Haiti are trying to rebuild their lives. Meanwhile, the government of Haiti is trying to rebuild their homes.
If you click on the link grammar, you will find a pdf with lots of examples
of linkers and which position they take in a sentence.
Once you have read the pdf, fill in the gaps beneath with the appropriate linking words. When you have finished, check your answers with the feedback boxes.
1. Browne, K (2006 A) reveals that 'women’s position in society is changing rapidly, and women are now becoming more successful than men in education and in the job market, a fact reflected in the publication of new magazines catering for working women'. , it can be argued that mass media is hugely influencial in the social sphere.
2. The general election has become an issue being discussed all over Britain. , it is an issue which is dividing opinion.
3. National pride in the UK is being misconstrued by many, as racism and prejudice. , it is viewed as counterproductive to a multicultural society.
4. The student forgot to put the bibliography in alphabetical order, they referenced the author's name and the date of the publication.
5. The internet is providing greater access to information that was previously difficult to find. , it is making communication easier.
Answer: In addition
6. Smoking in public places is banned in the UK. , it is perfectly acceptable to smoke in public places in many societies around the world.
7. collecting questionnaires, a good research student will also interview several of his or her sample.
8. working extremely hard, the student failed to achieve the grades he wanted.
9. loosing a considerable amount of money at the roulette wheel, the gambler insisted on playing poker.
Answer: In spite of
10. It was clear that he was not going to win the election. he continued to campaign.
Now try the quiz. It has been designed to test the knowledge you have just acquired.
Click on the link below and follow the instructions within the
exercise which pops up.
In this activity you will test your knowledge of discourse markers, looking both at semantics and grammar.
Click on the link below and match 2 halves of the sentences together
by dragging and dropping.
Drag and drop quiz
In this Learning Object we looked at how to use 'discourse markers',
otherwise known as linking words to create a sense of cohesion in your
work. We have seen 10 of the most frequently used discourse markers and
some of the grammar patterns associated with them (refer to the .pdf).
In addition, you have practised selecting the correct discourse marker and have used discourse markers to both complete sentences, and match 2 halves of a sentence together.
Remember: too many discourse markers in an essay is as much of a problem as having too many. Try to use them with care, and in the appropriate places. The more you read academic texts and articles, the more you will see when, where and how they are used.
If you would like additionaly help with the use of discourse markers and achieving cohesion in your work, refer to the Learning Object about Cohesion or make an appointment with the language and learning unit in FB 1.24.
Browne, K. (2006). Media representations of gender. Cambridge: CUP.
Hall, B (2004) International students and plagiarism: A review of the literature [Online]. Available at www.bournemouth.ac.uk. Accessed on 08/06/05
Moore, S., Aiken, D. & Chapman, S. (2005). Gender and the media. In: Moore, S., Aiken, D. & Chapman, S. eds (2005). Sociology (2nd edition), Collins: London
© Jessica Cooper /Queen Mary, University of London/photograph coutesy of Flickr Creative Commons