#257: Linking Words for Smooth Transitions When Speaking English
Have you ever felt that heart-stopping panic when someone says “What was that? I lost you.” Or, “Could you explain that again? I’m not following you.”
It is stressful and frustrating when someone has a difficult time following your ideas.
And sure, it could be the noise in the background or the topic is unfamiliar, but it could also be a lack of smooth transitions between your sentences.
Let me show you what I mean. Listen and read the following examples:
Helen walked to the store and bought groceries. She went to the bank to pay her bills. She didn’t go shopping. There wasn’t enough time.
Helen walked to the store and bought some groceries. Then, she went to the bank to pay her bills. However, she didn’t go shopping since there wasn’t enough time.
What differences do you notice? Was one easier to follow than the other? Did one have more clarity?
You may have also noticed that I sprinkled in a few extra words in the second example: Then, however, and since.
Those small but mighty words are linking words.
Linking words, also known as sentence transitions and transition words, help your sentences to smoothly flow from one to another so you speak English with clarity.
And those smooth transitions make it easy for your listeners to follow you as you speak.
In other words, they don’t feel lost.
In this Confident English lesson, you’ll learn 8 ways to use linking words and linking phrases for smooth transitions when you speak English.
Of course, I’ll give you multiple examples so you can use these sentence transitions with accuracy and confidence in your English communication.
8 Ways to Use Linking Words for Smooth Transitions When Speaking English
Why are linking words useful?
Before we focus on the first way to use linking words, let’s look at all the ways linking words can help you with smooth transitions:
- Linking words:
- Create a logical flow between ideas;
- Compare, contrast, add on, agree, or refute;
- Maintain cohesion;
- Act as signposts to guide listeners through each idea;
- Draw attention to and emphasize details;
- Express emotions or attitude
Put Them Where They Belong
Knowing where to place linking words is crucial to ensuring clarity and organization.
Linking words may be placed:
- At the beginning of a sentence
- In between a sentence/idea
- At the start of every major point in an argument
- Ex. At first, the book introduces the history of psychology. Later, it shifts to contemporary studies and theories.
Use #1: To Reiterate Or Repeat
There may be times when you will need to reiterate and repeat what has already been said. This is usually done in an attempt to clarify, draw attention to the fact that something was previously mentioned or covered, or emphasize the repetition of a point.
To indicate this, the following linking words may be used as a signpost:
- As I’ve said
- To repeat
- As mentioned in [X]
- As/Like X said
Ex. Scenario #1: Imagine you’re in a meeting for the company’s social media strategy and a coworker suggests a change, you might say, “Like Linny said, we should wait for more data before making any major changes to our strategy.”
Use #2: To Create A Sequence
When organizing and expressing a number of ideas at once, sequencing and time are especially important – sequencing helps us understand the order of events.
Linking words/phrases related to time and sequence not only allow for smoother transitions, but they help the listener to easily follow your train of thought.
Some linking words/phrases for this purpose include:
- At the same time
- In the meantime
- To begin/start
- For [X time]
Ex. Scenario #2: Think about the last time you shared a baked goods recipe with someone. When sharing the methodology, each step probably started with a time/sequence word.
You might’ve said, “First, cream the butter and sugar together. Then, add the eggs one at a time.”
Without those transitions, there’s a good chance that the recipe will go terribly wrong.
Use #3: To Express Conditions
Linking words can also be used to communicate conditional circumstances or ideas to express that something may only be true or occur due to another.
To express a conditional, use the following words/phrases:
- As/So long as
- Granted/Provided that
- In the event that
Ex. Scenario #3: Perhaps you’re discussing future plans of starting a business and say, “I’m on track to start my business next year, so long as I continue to save my money in the same way.”
The same could also be expressed as:
“I’m currently on track to start my business next year, provided I don’t run into some unforeseen expenses.”
Use #4: To Support Or Illustrate
Most often, linking words/phrases are used to introduce examples or expand on an idea for support.
To support or illustrate an idea or a series of connected ideas, you may say:
- For example/instance
- In other words
- To put it differently (or another way)
- That is to say
- To demonstrate/emphasize/explain
- In particular
Ex. Scenario #4: Imagine that you’re explaining where to listen to podcasts.
You might say, “Podcasts are available everywhere. That is to say, you can find them on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or even directly on a podcast’s website.”
The same could also be said in the following way:
“Podcasts are available everywhere. Namely, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or any podcast’s website.”
Use #5: To Compare and Contrast
Linking words are particularly helpful to contrast opposing ideas or comparing them. Linking words enable us to compare and contrast concisely and clearly.
When contrasting ideas, the following linking words are often used:
- In contrast
- On the contrary
- On one hand [X]. On the other hand [Y].
- Even so / Even though
- In spite of
- While [X]…[Y]
- At first, [X]. But then, [Y]
Ex. Scenario #5: To convince your coworker of the benefits of making a change to social media strategy, you might say “On one hand, there are benefits to waiting until we see the data. On the other hand, the slower we are to react, the higher the risk of losing our audience.”
We could express the same by saying,
“While there are benefits to waiting until all the data is in, acting fast will ensure we don’t lose our audience.”
When drawing similarities or making comparisons, the following linking words are often used:
- Like [X]
- In comparison
- In the same manner/way
- Just as
Ex. Scenario #6: Perhaps, you and your partner are narrowing down the options for a property you’re interested in purchasing.
“Just as the first house is by the water with great views, the last house also has the same, it’s just a bit cheaper.”
Use #6: To Add On & Expand
When we’d like to add more to a statement or an idea, the following linking words/phrases are helpful:
- In addition (to)
- As well as
- Equally important
- In fact
- To add
Ex. Scenario #7: Imagine you’re telling a friend all the reasons why they should watch a particular show.
To convince them, you might say, “The show focuses on real stories and retells events in an exciting way. Plus, the actors are great!”
Use #7: To Emphasize Or Draw Attention
In addition, linking words are useful for emphasizing or drawing attention to particular ideas.
The following phrases help us do just that:
- It’s important to realize
- In fact
- Of course
- In truth
Ex. Scenario #8: Imagine you’re taking on part of a coworker’s workload but they’re worried it might be too much. To reassure them, you might say, “Don’t worry about any of this. Besides, Kiko will be helping me as well.”
Use #8: Summarize Or Conclude
Finally, when all is said and done, linking words help us wrap up our ideas – to come to a conclusion and summarize the main point.
When summarizing, the following linking words/phrases are helpful:
- To summarize
- In brief
- In short
- In essence
- To sum up
Ex. Scenario #9: Perhaps, you’re nearing the end of a long presentation and would like to reiterate some of the key points.
At that moment, you could say, “In brief, we can cut carbon emissions by carpooling, using renewable energy sources, and upgrading our homes to be energy-efficient.”
Lastly, when concluding, the following linking words/phrases are helpful:
- In conclusion
- To conclude
- All things considered
- As a result/consequence
Ex. Scenario #10: Take the previous example. To end your presentation, you might say, “In brief, we can cut carbon emissions by carpooling, using renewable energy sources, and upgrading our homes to be energy-efficient. Thus, cutting carbon emissions at home is an easy and small step that we should all take.”
How to Practice Using Linking Words in English
After you’ve reviewed the lesson, try using linking words with this practice activity:
- Choose a topic that you feel strongly about.
- Create a mind map for that topic and branch out to write three major points that support your opinion.
- Then, expand on each point with an example or supporting argument.
- Use your resulting mind map and record yourself expressing your thoughts.
- Listen for areas in your argument where linking words/phrases could smooth the transition between ideas, draw comparisons, help you emphasize..etc.
- Reword your argument and record yourself speaking about the topic.
- Listen for overuse of linking words/phrases. Remember the goal is to work them naturally into your communication and use them as signposts for your listener.
- Repeat the activity with another topic.
You can share an example below.
It’s also the best place to share your questions with me.
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