Connecting Words and Phrases

Updated: Oct 27, 2016

Although, to many students, a writing assignment may seem like a very cruel form of torture, writing, in reality, can serve as a very useful tool in developing one’s critical thinking skills, and can help build one’s expertise in using their language; also, writing enhances one’s ability to communicate effectively, which is a critical and much-needed skill in the workplace. It is a skill that will, to put it bluntly, help people get what they want in life and in their career.

For example, the effective communicator accesses the job interview and lands a good job over the person who isn’t an effective communicator.

The same applies to educational writing. When it comes to written communication (especially when writing the major essay types: Argumentative, or Persuasive, Cause and Effect, Compare and Contrast and Expository), the better the student-writer conveys a point, makes a solid argument, and presents a well-detailed treatise on a certain subject, the more likely they will obtain a high grade on the writing assignment.

This is usually accomplished through the use of connection words and phrases. Regardless of the kind of essay, a student is assigned to write, a working knowledge of connection words and phrases (as well as how to correctly incorporate them into a written assignment) is always advantageous. These can help support a claim, make an argument, help to defend one’s reasoning and especially illustrate cause and effect; they help provide a thorough explanation and can certainly persuade the reader to believe or agree with an argument.

Connection/connecting or linking verbs and phrases can illustrate objection or a rebuttal of something (with words like however, but, and on the contrary); they can provide an illustration (for example, for instance), can incorporate transitional phrases for enumeration (first, secondly, next, finally, lastly), and can demonstrate consequence (therefore, consequently, as a result).


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Helpful, crucial connecting, or linking, words and phrases and their purposes

(Some of these phrases and words begin a sentence, while others are used to connect two separate thoughts – either with the use of a semicolon or well-placed comma, and are therefore inserted in the middle of a sentence.)

1. To indicate a contrast:

In comparison; however; on the contrary; rather; alternatively; however; though; nevertheless; notwithstanding; in spite of this; although; similarly; conversely.

Example: Writing well is a product of hard work, education, and extensive reading; however, some people are natural-born storytellers.

2. To provide an illustration:

For example; that is to say; in other words; namely; such as; including; chiefly; mainly; most importantly.

Example: Prohibition was a terrible, dreadful failure, mainly because it did nothing but make a lot of criminals – namely bootleggers – filthy rich.

3. To extend a point:

Similarly; equally; likewise, furthermore; also; indeed; above all; as well; in addition.

Example: It has been said that writer Ernest Hemingway had no other interests beyond violence, copulation, and sports; and, indeed, he published several books that confirm this observation.

4. To demonstrate cause and effect, or a conclusion between two notions:

Therefore; thus; hence; as a result; consequently; this suggests that; in short; this implies; in all.

Example: There have been recent discoveries that amoebas do not leave behind a carbon footprint; therefore it is virtually impossible to determine exactly how long they have been on Earth.

5. Transitional, to indicate the next step:

First of all; next; secondly; to begin with; first and foremost; then; finally; ultimately; lastly.

Example: First of all, Christopher Columbus should not be considered a hero to Americans. … Secondly, Columbus was not even the first explorer to discover the Americas.

6. To summarize:

Overall; in sum; to sum it up; in conclusion.

Example: In conclusion, this essay examined two entirely different – yet effective – methods of teaching math to fifth-graders.

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