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Linking Words

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 by function
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.


Activity 1: Linking words

How many different linking words do you already know and use in your academic writing?

For example: 'therefore'.


Write your answers in the box beneath and then compare it with the list in the feedback section.

Any good internet search will help you to find more linking words.

Activity 2: Group the following 'linking words' according to their function

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.

For example:

Even though

As a result

In spite of this

In contrast
On the other hand
On the contrary


Activity 3: Word grammar

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.

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.

10. It was clear that he was not going to win the election. he continued to campaign.

Activity 4: Test your knowledge

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.

Articulate quiz

Activity 5: Mix and match the sentences

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

Would you like to review the main points?


Browne, K. (2006). Media representations of gender. Cambridge: CUP.

Hall, B (2004) International students and plagiarism: A review of the literature [Online]. Available at 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