Complete Guide to Linking Words For IELTS

Complete Guide to Linking Words For IELTS

In IELTS, using very short sentences can fail to convey the meaning accurately, while long and complex sentences can leave your reader or listener confused, and you may end up with a poor band score. So how do we frame sentences to score Band 7 and above?

If you try searching for tutorials to prepare for the IELTS writing and speaking tests, which we are sure you already have, all of them have one point in common, the importance of using linking words.

Linking words, also known as discourse markers, connecting words, or transition words, are particular words and phrases that you can use to connect your ideas and sentences while writing or speaking. They help you carry over from one sentence to another or from one paragraph to the next one.  You can use linking words for various uses, such as giving examples, adding information, summarising, giving a reason, contrasting ideas, etc.

When it comes to IELTS, using good linking words is the easiest way to help your reader to follow your argument and establish a logical relationship between your ideas. Similarly, for your listener, linking words can help to understand your responses clearly.

In this IELTS guide, we will focus on the importance and correct usage of linking words for IELTS. We will also give you ample examples of linking words that you can use while speaking and the linking words for IELTS Writing Task 1 and 2, respectively. 

Why are Linking Words Important?

Linking words are excellent grammatical and stylistic tools that make your writing or speech clear and keep it fluent and cohesive. They help you structure your sentences and convey clearly how two parts of a text are related to each other. Linking words for IELTS come in handy for adding extra information to your main points, such as giving examples, making a comparison, or emphasizing an idea. Such words also help to express your opinion or purpose lucidly.

When you use linking words for IELTS speaking test, besides the above essential roles, they can help you continue in the Speaking Cue Card Task until the examiner asks you to stop.  You can also use linking words or phrases to highlight a point while talking. Besides, linking words make for a good introduction and conclusion. If a sentence you used is not understandable, you can use a linking word to plug in an example. It will demonstrate your vocabulary range and buy you more time to think and continue speaking for 2 minutes. Using the right amount of linking words for IELTS speaking test can help you score 25% marks for cohesion and fluency.

Similarly, in the Writing Task, 25% marks are given for coherence and cohesion. You will be assessed on your range, accuracy, and flexibility of using linking words in various contexts throughout your report and essay.

Though there is a wide range of linking words to choose from, you must not go overboard with these words and try to use them in moderation. Therefore, in our next section, we will tell you how to use connecting words for IELTS.

How To Correctly Use Connecting Words For IELTS

It is essential to know that linking words, also known as connecting words, cannot be used everywhere. Also, the usage of linking words for IELTS speaking is quite different from IELTS writing linking words. For e.g., you can use the linker 'like' in the speaking test, but words like therefore, hereby, and notwithstanding work better in writing. In most cases, linking words are used as conjunctions followed by a comma. Remember that the linking words should come naturally to you while speaking and not give the examiner an impression that you have plugged them intentionally. Some of the key factors to remember while using the linking words for IELTS are:

  • Avoid overuse – This is perhaps one of the most common mistakes students make, using linkers for IELTS in every sentence. Though the grammar may be correct, using such words excessively will make you sound robotic. Therefore, the first suggestion is to avoid using these words if you don't need them.
  • Use them accurately – As already mentioned, there are hundreds of options to choose from. Therefore, you must connect your ideas using the right words or phrases.
  • Have variety – There may be a particular linker that you frequently use in your writing or speech. Even if it fits perfectly in every context, it will not fetch you higher marks. Therefore, get in the habit of using a variety of linkers for IELTS. The more you highlight practice and test, the better you will get at using connecting words.
  • Replace ‘ahhs’ and ‘umms’ with linkers – Using 'Ummm or 'aaa' in your speaking test will signal that you are not fluent in English. If you do not want to lose out on your score, try using linkers when you are stuck in the middle of your speech.

 

Now that you know how essential linking words are as a part of IELTS speaking vocabulary and writing vocabulary, it is time to learn which words qualify as connecting words for IELTS.

 

A. Linking Words For IELTS Speaking Task

In the IELTS speaking section, you will be answering some questions about yourself and given a task card to speak on a topic. The linkers for IELTS speaking section have two roles. Firstly, they will provide a direction for your thoughts. For e.g., words like 'although' or 'on the other hand' will signal the listener that you will now be giving an opposite view for a statement.

Secondly, linking words will give you time to think while bridging ideas for the second part of the speaking section – the speaking cue card.

Now let us look at the linking words for IELTS that we have put under different categories depending on their purpose.

Simple connectors (conjunctions):

  • and
  • or
  • but

Complex connectors:

1. Adding more information

  • Another reason is
  • Also
  • And
  • As well as

2. Time Phrases

If you need to describe 'time' in your speaking task, you can use any of the following linkers.

  • At the moment
  • Right now
  • At present
  • Now
  • These days
  • Nowadays
  • Before
  • In the past
  • Years ago
  • At that time
  • Then
  • When I was younger

3. Causes and Solutions

  • Because
  • I guess it is because of
  • I suppose the best way to deal with this problem is
  • The main reason is
  • It was caused by
  • The best way to solve this is

4. Expressing ideas

  • I think one important thing is
  • I suppose the main difference is
  • I guess one difference is

5. Giving examples

  • For instance
  • Like
  • For example
  • Such as

6. Being clear

  • What I want to say is
  • As I was saying
  • What I mean is

7. Contrasting/Opposite

  • But
  • While
  • On the other hand
  • Although
  • Or

8. For stating an opinion

  • As far as I am concerned
  • In my opinion
  • I believe that
  • From my point of view

9. To express agreement

  • I am in agreement
  • I quite agree that
  • I accept that
  • Exactly

10. Signpost words

Signposting words and phrases will help you tell the examiner what just happened and what will happen next. Simply put, it will guide the examiner through the information.

  • To begin with
  • However
  • In the same way
  • Unfortunately
  • Likewise
  • Similarly
  • Nonetheless
  • Fundamentally
  • Incidentally
  • Furthermore

B. Linking words for IELTS Writing Task 1

In Academic Writing Task 1, you analyze and report the data given in the tables, charts, graphs, diagrams, etc. Whereas in General Writing Task 1, you need to write a formal, semi-formal, or informal letter. In either case, you need to demonstrate solid paragraphing and essay skills, for which you will need IELTS writing linking words. The significant difference between linkers in speaking and the writing task is that the writing linkers are more formal.

Mentioned below are the categories of linking words for IELTS Writing Task 1 and a few examples under each category.

Starting a paragraph

  • According to the graph/figures
  • It is clear that
  • It can be seen that
  • It is noticeable that

Linking words that will help you to connect your ideas:

1. Contrast words

  • In contrast
  • However
  • whereas/while
  • On the other hand

2. Linking phrases

  • In addition
  • Furthermore
  • Overall, it could be seen that
  • According to the data
  • It is clear that

3. Time expressions

  • in the year 2000
  • at the end/beginning of the period
  • over/throughout/during the period in question
  • by 2000
  • between 1998 and 2000

4. The last paragraph

  • To conclude
  • To sum up

5. Describing a process

  • After this,
  • Next,
  • The first step is that
  • Following this
  • Firstly, Secondly, Finally
  • The following step is that
  • The next step is that
  • At the first stage

6. Describing a map

  • It is clear that the principal change
  • According to the map,
  • One more striking change
  • Another notable development

Linking Words For IELTS Writing Task 2

Writing Task 2 for Academic and General IELTS requires students to write a formal essay. The categories of essays include Agree Disagree, Discussion, Problem-Solution, Advantage/Disadvantage, or Two-part question. Like Task 1, Writing Task 2 will also be assessed on the basis of cohesion and coherence. You will be marked on your range, accuracy, and flexibility of using linking words for IELTS Writing Task 2.

Here, the role of the linking words for IELTS would be to give a structure to your ideas. They will also help you to introduce and articulate your thoughts in ways that support your argument, which will form the basis of your discursive essay.

Here is an expansive list of linking words for IELTS Writing Task 2.

1. Listing

  • Firstly, secondly, thirdly
  • First, furthermore, finally
  • To begin, to conclude
  • Next

2. Adding more information

  • Also
  • Furthermore
  • Moreover
  • What is more
  • In addition
  • Besides
  • Above all
  • As well (as)
  • In the same way
  • Not only ... But also

3. Similarity

  • Equally
  • Likewise
  • Similarly
  • Correspondingly
  • In the same way

4. Transition to a new point

  • Now,
  • As far as x is concerned
  • With regard/reference to
  • As for
  • It follows that
  • Turning to

5. Summary

  • In conclusion
  • To conclude
  • In brief
  • To summarise
  • Overall
  • Therefore

6. Giving examples

  • For example
  • For instance
  • As follows:
  • That is
  • In this case
  • Namely
  • In other words

7. Cause/result/consequence

  • So
  • Because
  • Because of
  • Due to
  • On account of
  • Owing to
  • Therefore
  • As a result,/consequence
  • Accordingly
  • Consequently
  • Because of this/that
  • Thus
  • Hence
  • For this/that reason
  • So that
  • In that case
  • Under these circumstances

8. Deduction

  • Then
  • In other words
  • In that case
  • Otherwise
  • This implies that
  • If so/not

9. Stating the obvious

  • Obviously
  • Clearly
  • Naturally
  • Of course
  • As can be expected
  • Surely
  • After all

10. Generalizing

  • In general
  • Generally
  • On the whole
  • As a rule
  • For the most part
  • In most cases
  • Usually

11. Highlighting

  • In particular
  • Particularly
  • Especially
  • Mainly
  • Reformulation
  • In other words
  • Rather
  • To put it more simply

12. Expressing an alternative

  • Alternatively
  • Rather
  • On the other hand
  • The alternative is
  • Another possibility would be

13. Contrast

  • Instead
  • But
  • Although
  • Though
  • Alternatively
  • Conversely
  • On the contrary
  • In contrast
  • On the other hand
  • In comparison
  • Even though
  • However
  • However much
  • Nevertheless
  • Still
  • Yet
  • In spite of
  • Despite

 

Practice Exercises

Insert appropriate linking words in the following paragraphs.

Exercise 1:

Our state's correctional system is inundated with problems. (a) _________, (example) senior officers increase their personal wealth by awarding building and catering contracts to incompetent firms in exchange for bribes. (b) ___________, (addition) promotions within the system are decided on the basis of personal biases, and not merit. (c) __________, (result) the system is filled with people at the top who know little about what they are doing. (d) __________, (addition) flawed security measures, allowing trusted inmates to control certain processes of the institution, are part of the growing problem. But one particular tendency is doing the most damage to the system's image and productivity. It is the habit of officers entrusted with crucial tasks to make faulty decisions and then cover up their mistakes. (e) __________, (conclusion) one would think that amidst all the conflict, some effort can be made to resolve these problems, but a strong determination to resist change overshadows the system.

Exercise 2:

It is the opinion of some people that an individual cannot be considered successful without a high salary. __________, some argue that if an individual has a low paying job, he or she may have low self-confidence, __________ many people see a link between salary and self-worth. Many believe this to be true. __________, I am of the opinion that free time may be more valuable for a large portion of the community than struggling for a high salary that may never be attained. An abundance of free time allows the individual to spend more time pursuing interests or skills they are directly interested in. __________, the individual is likely to be much happier __________, is likely to improve skills which he or she believes are essential. This would seem to be an indicator of a form of success. __________, while a high paying job has been seen as a sign of success, it is clear that there are other means of measuring success in life. One of which may be to see how much time an individual can spend pursuing interests or skills which he or she places value on.

Answers:

  • Furthermore
  • Since
  • However
  • Consequently
  • Moreover
  • In conclusion

Tips

  • Avoid using formal linking words when speaking about yourself in the IELTS Speaking Test.
  • Do not use the linking word 'like' in the writing tasks. You must only use it in your speaking test to give examples.
  • You will not get high scores for using a range of linking words if they do not fit the context.
  • Don't worry about repeating linking words while speaking. However, this will not be the case in the writing task. For the writing task, you need to show your proficiency in using different formal linking words.
  • As mentioned earlier, connecting words for IELTS should fall in place naturally during your speaking test.

Conclusion

If you look at the linking words individually, they may not seem to have a significant meaning. However, when put into context, they are an essential part of communication. If you want to get a good band score in your IELTS exam, you must start practicing using the connecting words in spoken and written English. So that, when the time comes, you are much more confident as a writer and speaker and can improve your score based on your fluency and coherence in speaking and writing.

Best of Luck!