The ultimate IELTS linking words guide

The ultimate IELTS linking words guide

Using linking words in your writing exam task 2 is essential.

Linking words help to connect your sentences and paragraphs. They help to build a logical flow and signal the relationship between sentences and paragraphs. In the writing exam, coherence and cohesion count for 25% of your marks, so using linking words and discourse markers are a must.

Linking words are also expressed as discourse markers, so if you see this you'll know its another term for linking words. Is there a difference between them? No. Linking words, connectives and discourse markers all share the same purpose- to connect and bind sentences together so that the desired meaning is created.

The only difference is that some discourse markers (linking words) are more formal than others. They aren't used too often in our speech unless a level of formality needs to be used.

For example, a presidential speech would use a range of more formal discourse markers because, it's a formal speech, it is intended to reach millions and we can assume the subject is an important, and serious one.

As important as they are, also be aware of the over-use of linking words. Students often feel that they need to stud their writing with as many linking words as possible but by doing this, you put your writing at risk of being inauthentic. You want your writing to be as natural as possible.

Linking words resource

Emma's Linking Words Resource

Discourse markers examples

  • I must admit- to confess something is true.

I must admit, I went in thinking I'd hate it, but it was one of the best films i've seen.

  • Well- time to think, ruminating on an idea/point

Well, it's not something I would be likely to do, but I think it makes sense in your case

  • My point is- personal opinion

My point is that it has had more positive outcomes than negative outcomes

  • What I’m getting at is- personal opinion

His point is a good one but what i'm trying to get at, is that we need more case studies for the research to continue

  • I mean/I guess- personal opinion

I guess I could join if I cancelled my earlier plans

I mean the food was ok, but I wouldn't recommend the restaurant to my friends

  • Right/anyway/so- to start, end or change the topic

So, let's do a head-count to check everyone is here before we begin

Right, if take both sides of the argument we can conclude that...

What's wrong with that, anyway?

Linking words sentence examples

  • Because of the council’s decision to cut budgets, our street lights now switch off by 7pm
  • As well as washing our hands, we can also maintain social distance to keep safe
  • Presently, I drive to work but going forward, I will cycle to work to do my part in helping the environment
  • Even though the weather forecast warned of heavy rain, the intrepid couple still decided to go ahead with their wedding day
  • Not very funny admittedly- but true
  • The warmer a place is, generally speaking, the more plants and animals it will support
  • As far as I know, the arrangement still stands
  • The course will have to be repeated owing to pressure of applicants
  • The student’s essay was badly written. Moreover, the ideas weren't explored enough
  • After I pass, my memoirs will elucidate my life and all that I experienced
  • Talking to someone has helped clarify my feelings
  • My car broke down and consequently I was so late that the entire meeting went ahead without me
  • Despite his wealth, he is close-fisted

Discourse markers in extended writing

I have written a short fictional story to display the use of connectives. Please note that not every single linking word has been used. But read through this and notice how the connectives help to bind sentences together and help to build larger segments of meaning.

Despite people’s warnings, he had decided to go ahead with the journey. This was something he had been planning for as long as he could remember. Admittedly, he had been caught off guard by some of the stories he’d heard. But that was just it. They were stories. Things that couldn’t be proved. Jim didn't pay too much attention to them. Even though it was a dangerous expedition to do, Jim had to do it. Sailing round the world was something he had been dreaming of ever since he was a child. He knew the sea better than most people and knew this was a task very few people could do. And he was one of them.

Besides, his marine friend Joe, would be on the journey and he was the perfect person for it. Not only was he his oldest friend, but he had been on the water almost every day of his life for the past twenty odd years. His knowledge of boats was unquestionable and his knowledge of the arctic route was extensive.

From the offset, both men were of an age where an expedition wouldn't be recommended, Jim had recovered from a stroke months before and their boat was almost as old as Jim. But Jim and Joe were no ordinary men. In spite of the talk around town, they declared their date and the towns people began to show, first in small pockets, then in droves. They laboured for weeks preparing the boat and due to their scrubbing, turning, lifting, yanking, and hauling for weeks, the boat was finally ready to set sail.

Finally, the day came. Jim and Joe stood proudly before their boat as the townspeople gave them gifts and tokens to keep them safe on their journey. As the men boarded their boat and looked on at the quiet, sniffling crowd before them, they felt a pang of trepidation. From the crowd, a slow clap began to build and it quickly erupted into a hearty cheer and applause that continued on as the men began to glide on water, and the cheering figures grew smaller and smaller.

Now, it was Jim, Joe and the wide, open, endless sea.

Your turn

  • Write your own piece of writing (a description of your day, a short story, a review of a film you have recently watched), with linking words
  • Identify linking words in transcripts of famous speeches
  • Identify linking words in news reports and articles