18 Categories of Linking Words to Use in Your Essays
by Owen Fourie
When you write an essay or a speech, aim to have a logical flow in your ideas. This is essential. Your thoughts must hold together as a logically ordered and related whole.
The tools that help you to do this are linking or transitional words and phrases. They are used to join sentence parts to each other, to connect sentences to sentences, and to bridge paragraphs to paragraphs.
The purpose of this article is simply to list, in eighteen categories, the linking words and phrases that are used to accomplish the required flow. Commas are used here to separate the different words and phrases.
Please use this list as a guide and a reference point, but know that it is by no means exhaustive. More categories and linking words and phrases could be added.
How to choose the right linking or transition word
Simply because a word is listed here as a linking or transition word does not mean that it is the right word for you to use in a particular context; therefore, when you are looking for a transition word, it is important to take the following steps:
- Decide what function your transition word must fulfill by asking the kind of question that you’ll see in the section about categories below.
- Choose a word from the category that fits the function you require.
- Consult your dictionary to be sure that the word you have chosen bears a meaning that fits precisely what you intend as you move from one thought to another. To verify a phrase, this link could be useful, but it can also be frustrating: http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/
- Guard your writing against overused transition and linking words that could be regarded as clichés.
About the categories
The following categories appear as nouns in boldface. Some linking words appear in several categories because they cannot be confined to only one class.
Ask yourself: What do I need to do at this point in my essay?
- Do I need to provide reinforcement? Look under Addition;
- Do I need to clarify something? Look under Clarification;
- Do I need to demonstrate similarity? Look under Comparison;
- Do I need to concede a point? Look under Concession, and so on.
If you have in mind a particular category that seems to be unlisted here, look again to see if its associated words and phrases appear under another label. For instance, the words for Cause may be found under Reason, those for Condition under Contingency, and those for Purpose under Suggestion.
Transition or linking words in 18 categories
Addition (reinforcing preceding material)
additionally, again, along with, also, and, another, another key point, apart from, as well as, besides, coupled with, equally important, for example, for instance, further, furthermore, however, in addition, in addition to, incidentally, in fact, in the same way, likewise, moreover, not only … but also, not to mention, otherwise, similarly, therefore, thus, together with, too, to say nothing of, with this in mind
Clarification (making the preceding material clearer)
for example, for instance, in other words, put another way, that is, that is to say, to clarify, to explain, to put it another way, to put it differently
Comparison (showing how various points of the subject matter are similar)
by the same token, comparatively, correspondingly, in comparison, in like manner, in the same manner, in the same way, like, likewise, similarly
Concession (giving place to opposing views)
although, at any rate, at least, despite, despite the fact that, even so, even though, granted that, however, in any case, in spite of, nevertheless, of course, while it may be true, yet
Conclusion (summarizing and restating preceding material)
accordingly, after all, all in all, all things considered, as a result, as can be seen, as has been noted, as shown above, briefly, consequently, finally, given these points, hence, in a word, in brief, in conclusion, in essence, in short, in summary, in the long run, on the whole, overall, therefore, thus, to conclude, to summarize, to sum up
Consequence (showing results and effects of completed or proposed action)
accordingly, as a consequence, as a result, consequently, due to this, for this reason, hence, in that case, so, therefore, thereupon, this means that, thus, under those circumstances, with the result that
Contingency (allowing for and preparing for possibilities)
as long as, contingent on, contingent upon, dependent on, dependent upon, in case of, in the event of, in the event that, on condition that, provided that
Contrast (showing how various points of the subject matter are different, or expressing reservations about them)
albeit, although, although this may be true, but, by the same token, contrarily, conversely, despite, however, in any event, in contrast, in spite of, instead, in theory … in practice, nevertheless, nonetheless, notwithstanding, on the contrary, on the one hand … on the other hand, otherwise, rather, regardless of, unlike, whereas, while, while this is true, while this may be true, yet
Detail (expanding on any point in the material)
especially, including, in detail, in particular, namely, specifically, to enumerate, to explain, to list
Digression (introducing, briefly, a related and interesting but non-essential point)
by the way, incidentally
Direction (showing how parts of the subject matter are related in space)
above, across, adjacent to, against, along, alongside, along the edge, amid, among, around, at the back, at the bottom, at the front, at the left, at the rear, at the right, at the side, at the top, away from, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, by, down, here, in front of, inside, in the background, in the center, in the distance, in the forefront, in the foreground, in the front, into, near, nearby, nearer, nearly, next to, off, on this side, on top, opposite, out of sight, outside, over, straight ahead, surrounding, there, throughout, to the left, to the right, under, wherever, within sight
Emphasis (reinforcing preceding material)
above all, actually, after all, again, also, as a matter of fact, besides, by all means, certainly, chiefly, especially, for this reason, furthermore, in addition, indeed, in fact, in reality, in truth, markedly, most importantly, obviously, of course, particularly, really, significantly, singularly, surely, to emphasize, to point out, to repeat, truly, undoubtedly, with attention to
Example (supporting preceding material)
as an example, as an illustration, chiefly, especially, for example, for instance, for one thing, including, in other words, in particular, like, markedly, namely, notably, particularly, specifically, such as, thus, to demonstrate, to illustrate
Exception (noting exclusion, objection, criticism, variance)
apart from, aside from, barring, besides, be that as it may, but, except, excepting, except that, excluding, exclusive of, other than, save, unless
Generalization (giving an overall perspective)
as a rule, as usual, by and large, for the most part, generally, generally speaking, in general, on the whole, ordinarily, overall, usually
Reason (supporting the points of the material with valid arguments)
as, because, because of, by reason of, due to the fact that, for the reason that, given that, granted that, inasmuch as, in order to, in view of, on account of, owing to the fact that, seeing that, since
Sequence (giving order to the material)
after, after a few hours, afterward, afterwards, all of a sudden, another, as soon as, at, at first, at last, at length, at once, at the present time, at the same time, before, concurrently, currently, during, earlier, eventually, finally, first, second, third, etc., first of all, following, formerly, for now, for the time being, forthwith, frequently, henceforth, immediately, in conclusion, in due time, instantly, in the first place, in the future, in the meantime, in time, in turn, last, lastly, later, later on, meanwhile, next, next week, now, occasionally, once, presently, previously, prior to, quickly, shortly, simultaneously, since, soon, soon after, straightaway, subsequently, suddenly, the first point is, the following, the former … the latter, then, the next step, thereafter, till, to begin with, today, etc., until, until now, up to the present time, when, whenever, while, without delay
Suggestion (proposing purposeful action for the benefit of all concerned)
for the purpose of, for this purpose, in order to, in the hope that, therefore, to the end that, to this end, with this in mind, with this intention, with this purpose in mind
If any of these words and phrases are used to begin a sentence, they are normally followed by a comma. When transitional words are used to join independent clauses, a preceding semicolon and a following comma are required.
Examples of punctuation for transitional words and phrases are given in a separate article: 7 Punctuation Guidelines to Follow When You Use Transition Words.
Are there other categories and words that you think should be included here? Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.
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