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Overusing linking words!

Firstly, I would like to say that some people use too many linkers. However, some use a good amount of linkers. In addition, they use them in the right places. For example, they put linkers in the middle of paragraphs. Nonetheless, there are many students who do not follow this strategy. In other words, they use lots of linkers.

All the above sentences begin with a word or phrase to follow on from the previous sentence, except the first one which introduces a list. Unfortunately, there is a tendency among many IELTS candidates to write like this because they have been told that they must use a wide variety of linking devices. This is true, but if you begin every sentence with a linking word or phrase, your writing will sound very artificial and you will NOT achieve a very high band score for ‘cohesion and coherence’. Also, an overuse of linkers shows that the candidate has a very limited range of sentence structures and cannot develop the main idea of the paragraph properly.

Below is a more natural version of the paragraph with fewer linkers:

Firstly, I would like to say that some people use too many linkers. They add them at the beginning of every single sentence which is often not necessary. In contrast, some students use an appropriate amount of linkers which they place correctly, sometimes in the middle or at the ends of sentences too.

Notice how other cohesive devices are used to join parts of sentences together such us ‘which’ and ‘too’. You don’t always need to use formal linking words. You might also want to experiment with using linkers in different positions in a sentence; in the middle (‘however’) or at the end (‘for instance’). But remember to use the correct punctuation when you do so; linkers in the middle or at the end of a sentence are usually preceded by a comma.

Don’t forget that linkers are for developing ideas so you don’t always need them if your ideas flow well. Next time you are reading a newspaper or magazine article in English notice how different linkers are used naturally in context. Also think about the purpose of each linking word. For example, is it being used to add a new idea or contrast a different idea? It’s a good idea to try out using a range of different ones in your writing, but make sure you don’t overuse them (not more than 1 linker every 2-3 sentences).

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Dr. Quamar Azam - Saudi Arabia

Dr. Quamar Azam - Saudi Arabia

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