Speak Fluent English Thanks to Conversational Connectors: The Complete List
09 Jul 2021
When you start learning a language, you begin by creating short phrases, for example “I like coffee”. The next step in the learning process is to link this phrase to another one, for example, “I like coffee and I like tea”. The word ‘and’ is what we call a connector, and it is one of the first connectors you learn. There are many more connectors, all of which can significantly enrich your conversational English. So what the other connectors are there and how do we use them? Read on to find out.
What can connectors do?
Connectors enable us to connect words or phrases. There are a wide range of connectors and each of them has a different function. Connectors can express:
Let’s look at each of these functions.
ADDITION – and, plus, furthermore, moreover, in addition, also, as well as
We can use addition connectors when we want to add one phrase to another or to give extra information. Obviously the most common of these is ‘and’, while the other addition connectors give a little more emphasis and are also more common in written English, especially ‘moreover’ and ‘furthermore’. Here are some examples:
- They like English and study a lot.
- He’s well-qualified, plus he’s very charismatic.
- The house is beautiful. Furthermore, the price is low.
- Sport is fun. Moreover, it’s a great way to socialize.
- In addition to the new tunnel, the local council is constructing a bridge.
- I play the piano and I also play the violin.
- As well as being helpful, Carmen is very practical.
TIME – when, while, as, as soon as
We can use time connectors to link actions that happened at the same moment. The connectors ‘when’ and ‘as’ are very similar in meaning. We generally use ‘while’ for a longer action, especially with a continuous form. For example:
- When we arrived we sat down at our desks.
- I watched television while I was ironing.
- It started to rain just as I went out.
- We’ll start as soon as everyone gets here.
SEQUENCE – then, after, afterwards, next, firstly, secondly, finally
In a similar way to time connectors, sequential connectors enable us to indicate the order of events. Here are some examples:
- She talked about the agenda then she began her presentation.
- He’s coming here after lunch.
- He’s having lunch and is coming here afterwards.
- Turn on the oven. Next, mix all the ingredients.
- Firstly, I’d like to thank you all for coming.
- Secondly, I want to give you a brief overview of the new products.
- Finally, I will invite our president to speak.
CONTRAST – but, however, though, although, nevertheless, despite, whereas, while
These connectors can link two contrasting ideas. ‘But’ and ‘however’ are very
similar, though ‘however’ gives more emphasis to the contrast and is more common at the start of a sentence. The connectors ‘though’ and ‘although’ are also very similar with the only difference being their position. ‘Though’ can be at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence, while ‘although’ cannot be used at the end of a sentence. Here are some examples:
- They like pasta but they don’t like rice.
- It’s a nice city and it’s fun for a holiday. However, I wouldn’t like to live there.
- She studies quite a lot though she could do more.
- Although he works hard he hasn’t had a promotion for years.
- I like this model a lot. Nevertheless, I’m not going to buy it yet.
- Despite the rain, they went for a walk.
- The central area of the country is quite flat, whereas the north is hilly.
- I thought the film was terrible, while my friends thought it was really good.
CONDITION – as long as, provided that, unless, otherwise
When we want to express the idea that something can happen only in certain conditions, we can use conditional connectors. For example:
- You can play video games as long as you tidy your room first.
- We’ll keep the goods for you provided that we receive the payment soon.
- Unless the economy improves, interest rates will go down again.
- We need to hurry up, otherwise we’ll miss the flight.
REASON – because, as, due to, so (that), in order to
When we want to explain the reason for something we need to use this groups of connectors, the most common of which is ‘because’. For example:
- Many people study English because it’s important for their jobs.
- As you didn’t do a very good job with this essay, I’d like you to do it again.
- Due to heavy traffic we arrived half an hour late.
- We left early so we could have a coffee before starting.
- They are having a conference call in order to finalize the contract details.
RESULT – so, therefore, as a result, consequently
When you want to express the consequence of an action, use result connectors. They all have a similar meaning though ‘so’ is more common in spoken English and is more informal. The others are more appropriate in a formal, written context. Here are some examples:
- I’d forgotten my car keys so I had to go back into the office to get them.
- Last year’s results were excellent, therefore you will all receive a bonus.
- Crime rates are increasing. As a result the government is going to hire more police officers.
- Marco did really well at university and consequently received several job offers.
As you can see, connectors are useful in many situations and can transform your level of fluency in conversation. So start to practice now by using them yourself when you speak and write, and pay attention to connectors when you read and listen.