In short, a connector is a word that is used to join words or sentences. Moreover, the functions of connectors in English grammar are to combine sentences and to express relationship between ideas. As a result, connectors in English grammar help in improving writing style by adding clarity.
Here is a brief explanation with exemplifications of the most utilised connectors in the English language:
1. To express contrast:
a) but / yet: followed by a noun phrase or a simple sentence.
E..g. The magazine is short but / yet interesting.
b) in spite of / despite: placed at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence.
E.g. ‘He arrived on time to his workplace despite / in spite of getting up late.
c) while / although / even though / in spite of the fact that: followed by a complete sentence. They can also be placed at the beginning or in the middle of the sentence. When it is placed at the beginning one needs to use a comma after the clause.
E.g. ‘While / Although / even though / in spite of the fact that these students didn't put a lot of effort into their study, they still managed to pass their exam.
d) however, nevertheless, even so, on the one hand, on the other hand: placed at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence depending on the connector one wishes to utilise.
E.g. ‘He was quite ill however/ nevertheless, he still went to school.
The hypothesis is valid, even so, we will need to back it up with more research.
On the one hand, I prefer to cook at home. On the other hand, it is more convenient to pick something up on my way home.
e) by contrast: is usually followed or preceded by the subject of the sentence.
E.g. Generally-speaking, cats are completely indifferent to humans. By contrast, dogs are always incredibly loyal to human species.
f) whereas: placed in the middle of a sentence.
E.g. ‘This book is extremely interesting whereas the other one I find it to be quite tedious.
2. To express reason and cause:
a) because, as, since, given that: Because is more common than as, since and given that, both in writing and speaking. When we use because, we are focusing on the reason:
E.g. We should probably be heading home soon because / as / since / given that it is quite late.
We often place the because-clause at the beginning of a sentence, especially when we want to give extra focus to the reason. We use a comma following the because-clause:
E.g. Because drinking water is something we do automatically, we rarely think about it.
b) because of, on account of, due to: placed at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence.
E.g. Due to / because of / on account of the severe weather conditions, we are unable to go outdoors.
c) in order to, so as to, to: these structures express purpose and answer the question why something is done. They can appear at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence.
E.g. She is studying really hard in order to / so as to / to obtain the highest possible mark on my exam.
3. To Add information
a) for example, for instance, such as: good writers explain their ideas well. One way they explain their ideas is to include examples which make the writer's thoughts much more concrete, practical, and comprehensible to the reader.
E.g. Vegetables are a good source of vitamins. For example / For instance, oranges are loaded with vitamin C.
b) moreover, furthermore, besides, in addition to: placed at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence. They aimed to provide further argumentative points to a thesis.
E.g. In addition to / besides this new policy, we will introducing a comprehensive employee handbook.
Furthermore / Moreover, we will introducing a comprehensive handbook in order to safeguard the integrity of our organisation.
c) aside from: placed at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence. Equally utilised to give further insight into other points of a thesis.
E.g. Aside from her native tongue, she speaks French and German.
4. To express succession
. - First of all / Firstly / To begin with / First ….
- Second / Secondly / Then …
- Third / Thirdly / After that...
- The next stage …
- Finally / in short / to sum up / in conclusion / lastly / last but not least…
5. To express a result
a) as a result of: In consequence of 'x', the result was 'y'. It is normally placed at the beginning of a sentence but it can also appear in the middle of any given narrative.
E.g. As a result of his brave action, he was awarded a military medal.
b) therefore: placed at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence. Its use is, in essence, similar to the previous connector.
E.g. He is continuously underperforming, therefore, I will be forced to dismiss him.
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Former Cambridge Examiner / Classroom Language teacher, from Brisbane, with 12 years' experience in the industry.