Ways of linking ideas

We us conjunctions (e.g. but, because) to join two clauses in one sentence:

We can use adverbial expression (e.g. consequently, however) to connect ideas in separate sentences. These usually got at the beginning of the sentence or clause:

Fish is known as a ‘brain food’ because of the benefits it has for brain development. However, recent studies have shown that fish can also contain mercury.

Some adverbial expression (e.g. therefore, however, also) can be used in a variety of positions:

People therefore are unsure of whether to eat fish.

People are therefore unsure of whether to eat fish.

People are unsure therefore of whether to eat fish.

We can use prepositions (e.g. in spite of, because of) before a noun phrase or an –ing form:

The match was cancelled because of the snow. (not because of it snowed)

In spite of losing the first game, the team went on to win the tournament.

Linking expressions

Adding information

    conjunctions: and, as well as

    adverbials:  also, anyways, besides, furthermore, in addition, likewise, moreover, similarly


We use the expressions to give addition information:

Fish supplies us with substances that might protect against heart disease. Moreover, in many culture fish is known as a ‘brain food’.


     Adverbials: first, next, after that, then; firstly, secondly, finally

Firstly, secondly and finally are used to order points in an argument:

Firstly, in terms of heart disease, it has been shown that consuming even small quantities of fish can lower your risk of heart disease by 17%. Secondly, consuming fish is known to have a beneficial effect on brain development. Finally, …

First, next, after that and then describe the order of activities in a process:

First the fruit is picked by hands. Then it is transported to the factory.

Cause, reason, result

      conjunctions: because, so

      adverbials: therefore, consequently, so, thus, as a result

      prepositions: because of, due to, on account of, owing to


Because introduces the reason for something, and so introduces the result;

   I eat fish three times a week because it protects against heart disease.
   Fish protects against heart disease so I eat it three times a week.

Therefore, consequently, so, thus, and as a result introduce the result of a situation or action:

The match was cancelled because of the snow. (not because of it was snowing)

The buses were all running late owing to the bad weather.

 We can use due to, on account of and owing to +the fact with a clause:

The match was cancelled due to the fact that it was snowing.


      Conjunctions: but, although, though

      Adverbials: alternative, however, in contrast, nevertheless, on the contrary, on the other hand, yet

     Prepositions: in spite of, despite

We use but between two contrasting ideas:

Fish has been a staple food in many cultures, but there has been some controversy recently about the benefits and risks of fish consumption.

Although can come at the beginning or in the middle of two contrasting ideas. We use a comma between the two clauses:

Although the work was supported by grants from the Fisheries Scholarship Fund, although this did not affect the research findings.

We use in spite of and despite + noun/ –ing at the beginning or in the middle of two contrasting ideas:

In spite of the considerable amount of literature on the risks and benefits of fish consumption, there are still important gaps in this information. (not in spite of there is a consumable mount)

I eat fish regularly for health reasons despite not liking it much. (not despite I don’t like it)’

We can use despite and in spite of + the fact that with a clause:

I eat regularly for health reasons despite the fact that I don’t what I don’t like it so much

Giving example

    Adverbials: that is to say, in other words, that’s is (i.e.), for example

We use these expressions to link two clauses that give the same information in a different way or to give examples:

There has been some controversy recently about the benefits and risk of fish consumption. For example, we know that fish supplies us with polyunsaturated fatty acids, substances that might protect against heart disease.

Grammar extra: Written and spoken English

Some linking expressions are more common in either written (formal) or spoken English:

Written: thus, therefore finally, furthermore, hence, moreover, nevertheless, in additional, firstly, secondary, finally

Regular consumption of fish can lower your risk of heart disease by 17%. Furthermore, it can have a beneficial effect on brain development.

Spoken: so, the, anyways

Eating fish is good for you so I try to eat it regularly


1. I hurt my knee quite badly so

a. I had had to go hospital. b. I didn’t have the right shoes.

2. One way to improve your health is to eat more fruit and vegetables. Alternatively,

a. you could increase your risk of heart disease. b. you could exercise more.

3. Human like to from social groups. Likewise,

a. many other mammals live independently of each other.
b. many other mammals live together in small communities.

4. I didn’t work hard at school. Consequently,

a. I did well at university. b. I failed most of my exams.

5. I believe travelling can help us to understand other cultures. Furthermore,

a. it ca help you to become more independent.
b. it can be a lovely experience at times.

6. In spite of the fact learning to speak a foreign language requires a lot of time and effort,

a. many people give up after a short time.
b. many people manage successfully.

7.In my experience, vegetarians tend to be quite healthy diet. In contrast,

a. many meat-eaters do not have a healthy diet
b. they look after their bodies well.

8. Fifty per cent of all newspaper readers in this country only read the sports section of the paper. In other words,

a. many people are not interested in news.
b. sports are reported very well in the newspaper.

9. Sydney is the biggest city in Australia, yet

a. it isn’t the capital. b. it is the oldest city.

10. You wouldn’t be allowed to dive in my country because

a. there is no point in getting a car. b. you need to be over 21.

11. Studies suggest that although sales of cookery books have increased significantly in the past five years,

a. we spend less time than ever in the kitchen. b. we enjoy experimenting.

12. There are delays on all trains due to the fact that

a. passengers should allow extra time. b. there is a shortage of drivers.

Answer key

2. b                  3. b               4. b (result)              5. a                6. b(contrasting idea)           7.a (contrasting  idea)

8.a (restates the previous idea)        9. a (contrasting idea)               10. b (reason)               11. a                 12. b(reason)

 Underline the correct linking expressions.

It is generally accepted that smoking causes the deaths of large numbers of people.

In order to address this problem governments should ban smoking in public places.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?


Many people think that the best way to reduce deaths from smoking is to ban smoking in public places.

1 However; / In addition, it is not as simple as that. There are several reasons why I do not consider this approach to be suitable.

2 alternatively, / Firstly, banning activities often increases their popularity by making them seem more exciting. 3 Furthermore, /In contrast, most smoking take place in the privacy of people’s homes, and would 4 therefore / nevertheless not be affected by the ban.5 Thirdly, / Similarly, a ban on smoking would make extra demands on the police.

6 Although /Despite the ideas behind banning smoking in public places are good, an alternative approach needs to be taken, in my opinion. Schools should lead the way in discussing the harmful effects of smoking not only on the smokers themselves but on others around them. 7 In addition, / Consequently, parents need to support these efforts by encouraging their children to understand the negative aspects of smoking.

If we adopted these measure, I believe fewer people would take up smoking 8 as a result. / moreover. To some extent these things are already happening. 9 And / nevertheless, further efforts are needed.

Answer key
  1. Firstly( the first idea in a list).
  2. Furthermore (adds to the previous ides)
  3. therefore ( this idea is a result of the previous one)
  4. Thirdly ( introduces a third important point)
  5. Although (introduces a contrasting idea: despite cannot followed by a subject + verb)
  6. In addition (adds further information)
  7. as a result ( this idea is the result of the precious one) 9. Nevertheless (gives contrasting information) (⇨ B1 and B2)

Fill in the gaps with the linking expressions in the box.

    as a result    because       but firstly   for example   however    moreover similarly


  1. Regular exercise increases the blood flow to your heart and keeps your heart healthy. Moreover, it provides you with a general sense of well-being.
  1. In time of recession people stop spending, which can have serious consequences for the economy. …………………., poor sales can lead to closures of some businesses.
  2. In this talk I will outline several possible reasons for melting polar ice caps. ………………….. , it could be because of climate change. Another reason could be …
  3. These days many famous musicians are getting involved in political causes. …………………… , famous actors are often seen on television promoting some charity or other.
  4. Pets can have a calming effect on their owners. …………….. increase stress due to the demands made on the owner to look after the pet properly.
  5. Some people believe that we have too many public holidays, ……………. I believe they are a good idea ………………….. it is important to find time to celebrate traditions.
  6. In my city there are too many cars on the road and there are always traffic jams. ……………………….. , it is difficult for people to judge how long their journeys will take.
Answer key

2. for example    3. Firstly  4. Similarly  5. However  6. but; because  7. As a result (⇨ B1 and B2)

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