Connectors/linking words

Using connectors or linking words is one of the most effective ways to improve your writing and speaking grade in TOEFL,IELTS AND iTEP exam. In this article we are going to examine these linking words at length.

What are connectors ?

Linking words are words(however, because and despite), conjunctions(and, because) and phrases(as a result and on the other hand) used to link ideas in a sentence. Download this list here which shows linking words grouped by function with their level of proficiency.

What do linking words do ?

Linking words help a reader or a listener to understand written or spoken information clearly.

Why do we need to use linking words in writing ?

Linking words make the writing clearer to the reader.

If you put the purposes above at the back of your mind you need to know that you should not use linking words for academic purposes or to impress the examiner. You have to use them when it is necessary and you use them in the right way.

Linking words serve the purpose of showing the direction of the next writing and the trajectory of your writing.

Take an example

1.In addition, use of private vehicles increases the rate of air pollution due to the gases that are real ease into the atmosphere fro the huge number of cars of individuals on the road.

From the above sentence,we can understand that the sentence is adding another idea to the one before it due to the use of the phrase In addition,.

2.Consequently, allowing young people to drive cars at a young age might increase the number of accidents on the road due to lack of skills in managing a vehicle.

In the above sentence due to the presence of consequently, we know that the sentence is expressing a result of the previous sentence.

So, what linking words do is to highlight to the reader what direction the text is taking.

How do you learn how to use linking words ?

You learn how to use linking words in terms of function, grammar and slight differences in meaning.


It is important that you do not have to learn big lists of linking words. Rather you can learn them in terms of function.

There are four core functions of linking words that you must know.




4.Cause and effect.

1.Addition connectors

These are connectors used to add one idea to another.Their main function is to supplement the information that has already been stated.

Examples of additional connectors.

In addition to that,



On top of that,

Not only . . . . .but also . . .


2.Cause connectors

Are ones used to justify why something happens. Their fundamental function is to explain why something happens.

Examples of cause connectors.


Due to

Because of




3.Effect connectors

These are connectors used to express an effect of something already stated. We use them to show the outcome of an event.

Examples of effect connectors





So (that)

As a result


4.Contrast connectors

These are connectors used for expressing surprise or an idea that is contrary to the one expressed before it.

Examples of contrast connectors



In spite of

Even though




It is important to note that first, the connectors shown here in their respective categories have similar functions but they are not the same in terms of grammar and meaning.

Secondly, you do not need to learn all the linking words in a certain category. You only need between 2/3 words to express each function.


There are basically three main parts of speech to which the most useful connectors belong. They are




1.Linking words in form of a preposition

These are linking words that are followed by either a noun or a phrase(a part of a sentence without a subject/verb/object/gerund.

Examples include


Despite all his efforts, he could not succeed in his efforts.

B)Because of

They didn’t go through because of lack of enough skills and expertise.

C)In spite of

In spite of studying for the exam, he could not get a good grade.

D) Due to

Pollution has been on the increase due to lack of strict laws against multinational companies running big factories in our city.

2.Linking words in form of conjunctions

These are ones that are followed by a clause(a part of a sentence having a subject and a verb)

Examples include

A) Because

Living in the town is better than living in the villages because towns have more opportunities compared to villages.


Although I didn’t prepare for the exam, I passed it with a good grade.

2.Even though

We couldn’t take the morning bus even though we woke up very early.

3.Linking words in form of adverbs

These are ones that are normally followed by a comma and are mostly used at the beginning of the sentence(although they can be placed in the middle too)

Examples include

a)On the other hand

Use of plastics is considered a threat to the environment because they are not biodegradable. On the other hand, the industries that make plastics employ people who in turn earn an income.


Sodas contain many artificial chemicals such as sugars that are considered harmful to human health. Therefore, taking such beverages puts your health at risk.


Putting up more factories in rural areas will encourage people in such areas to stay there and not come to towns. Consequently, this will reduce the rate of rural urban migration.

What is the most important thing to know about linking words ?

You cannot connect ideas using linking words. This might be the most confusing thing you have read in this article but let me try to elaborate.

Linking words do not create a connection between your ideas. The connection has to already be there. What linking words do is to highlight that connection.

Think of them as a poster on the road that directs you into a specific place or direction. What the poster does is to show you where the place is but does not necessarily put that place there. It just informs you about its location.

Having checked tons of essays written by students, many misuse the connectors thinking that merely placing a connector in illogically organized ideas will make them logical and organized.

Take an example

Education should be provided freely to everybody who needs it because it is a basic necessity of life. On the other hand, free education encourages more students to join and stay in school.

The above sentence is considered incoherent and illogical due to the incorrect use of the phrase on the other hand. This phrase is used to express an idea which is different from the previous one. However, in that paragraph it is being used to add an idea that is similar to the one that has been mentioned already.

This is a classic example of incorrect use of linking words. 


1.The four main categories of linking words by function are addition, cause, effect and contrast. My recommendation is to have between two to three  linking words in each functional category .Other functions include – Giving an example,similarity, emphasising,concluding. Do not be overwhelmed. Just focus on the first four.

2. When you are learning how to use them, focus on accuracy rather than having a very long list. Concentrate on knowing both the function and correct usage of the linking words you know.

3.Do not use linking words to create a connection that does not exist already in your ideas. Their core function is to highlight that function but not to create it.

4.Use an online dictionary such as Cambridge or Collins to find out three four things about each linking word you are learning.

  1. The meaning and slight difference with a similar connector.
  2. The function of the connector.
  3. The grammar of the connector
  4. The level of proficiency of the connector to guide you on which connector to use when.

In conclusion, using linking words will contribute a lot to boosting your scores in writing and speaking. However, this will only be possible if you know how to use them accurately and correctly.