IELTS Band 9 – Linking Words (Connectives)

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A conjunction is a word that links words, phrases, or clauses. There are three types of conjunctions: coordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions, and subordinating conjunctions. Coordinating conjunctions may join single words, or they may join groups of words, but they must always join similar elements: e.g. subject+subject, verb phrase+verb phrase, sentence+sentence.

When a coordinating conjunction is used to join elements, the element becomes a compound element.

Correlative conjunctions also connect sentence elements of the same kind: however, unlike coordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions are always used in pairs.

Subordinating conjunctions, the largest class of conjunctions, connect subordinate clauses to a main clause. These conjunctions are adverbs used as conjunctions.

The following tables show examples of the various types of conjunctions and some sample sentences using the conjunctions. Since coordinating conjunctions and correlative conjunctions are closed sets of words, all are included in the list. Subordinating conjunctions are a larger class of words; therefore, only a few of the more common ones are included in this list.



An easy way to remember these six conjunctions is to think of the word FANBOYS. Each of the letters in this somewhat unlikely word is the first letter of one of the coordinating conjunctions. Remember, when using a conjunction to join two sentences, use a comma before the conjunction.

Examples and Sentences - Coordinating Conjunctions

ConjunctionWhat Is LinkedSample Sentences
andnoun phrase + noun phraseWe have tickets for the symphony and the opera.
butSentence + sentenceThe orchestra rehearses on Tuesday, but the chorus rehearses on Wednesday.
orVerb + verbHave you seen or heard the opera by Scott Joplin?
soSentence + sentenceI wanted to sit in the front of the balcony, so I ordered my tickets early.


both...andnot only...but alsoeither...orneither...norwhether...or

Remember, correlative conjunctions are always used in pairs. They join similar elements.  When joining singular and plural subjects, the subject closest to the verb determines whether the verb is singular or plural.

Examples and Sentences - Correlative Conjunctions

ConjunctionsWhat Is LinkedSample Sentence
both...andSubject + subjectBoth my sister and my brother play the piano.
either...orNoun + nounTonight's program is either Mozart or Beethoven.
neither...norSubject + subjectNeither the orchestra nor the chorus was able to overcome the terrible acoustics in the church
not only...but alsoSentence + sentenceNot only does Sue raise money for the symphony, but she also ushers at all of their concerts.


TimeCause + EffectOppositionCondition
whennow thateven thoughonly if
whileaswhereaswhether or not
sincein order thatwhileeven if
untilso in case (that)

Subordinating conjunctions, (subordinators) are most important in creating subordinating clauses or dependent clauses. These adverbs that act like conjunctions are placed at the front of the clause. The dependent clause can come either before or after the main clause. Subordinators are usually a single word, but there are also a number of multi-word subordinators that function like a single subordinating conjunction. They can be classified according to their use in regard to time, cause and effect, opposition, or condition. Remember, put a comma at the end of the dependent  phrase when it comes before the main clause.

Examples and Sentences - Subordinating Conjunctions

ConjunctionSample Sentence
afterWe are going out to eat after we go to the concert.
sinceSince we have lived in Atlanta, we have gone to every exhibit at the High Museum.
whileWhile I was waiting in line for the Matisse Exhibit, I ate my lunch.
althoughAlthough the line was long and the wait over two hours, the exhibit was well worth it
even ifEven if you have already bought your ticket, you will still need to wait in line.
becauseI love Matisse's works because he uses color so brilliantly.

Leading Expressions

How to Use Sentence Starter?

The most important tip to quickly improve your writing is to follow one rule:

Start every sentence in a paragraph with a different word. How? Here is my step-by-step guide:

Use the transition list as you write: Think about how the sentences in your paragraph relate to one another. Are you comparing and contrasting two ideas? Use "Showing Contrast" transition words below. Are you writing about steps in a process? Then use the "Adding to an Idea" transition words below. When writing about something that happened, use the "Sequence/Time" transitions I've provided.

Using the transition list while you are revising: Sometimes, it is easier not to worry about these words until your final draft stage, especially if you are a beginning writer. How do you do this? Use the following tips:

Go through your first draft and circle the first word in every sentence.

If you use the same word to start a sentence twice in a paragraph, then you need to choose another transition word and re-word the sentence.

Choosing the Right Word

How can you choose the right word for each sentence? What makes using transitions improve your writing is that it forces you to explain the connections between your ideas. Ask yourself:

What does the sentence before this one say?

How does this sentence relate to that one?

Scan the list for a transition that seems to fit best. You can also use these questions for help:

Does this sentence add information? Use: moreover, furthermore, additionally, not only...but also, or another addition transition.

Does the sentence contrast or contradict? Use: however, on the other hand, in contrast, yet, conversely, or another contrasting transition.

Are you writing something that happens in order? Use: next, then, in fact, similarly, or a time word like first, second, third, and finally.

Does this sentence add evidence? Use: for example, consequently, for this reason, or another adding transition.

Does the sentence emphasize an idea? Use: obviously, especially, as a rule, particularly, or another emphasizing transition.

Does the sentence start your conclusion: Use: finally, in conclusion, in sum, obviously, or another concluding transition.

Tips to Remember

1. Use a variety of transition words, not the same one.

2. Put a comma after the transition word.

3. Put the subject of the sentence after the comma.

Transition Word List

Words to Show ContrastWords to Add to an IdeaWords That Show CauseWords That Add Emphasis
althoughmoreoveras a resultabove all
converselyfurthermorebecauseas a rule
in contrastas well asconsequentlyas usual
insteadanother reasondue toassuredly
in comparisonalong withfor this reasoncertainly
neverthelessalsofor this purposechiefly
whereascoupled withhenceespecially
on the one hand…on the other handfor examplesincegenerally speaking
on the contraryin additionso thenfor the most part
other thanindeedsubsequentlyin this situation
outside ofin factthereforeno doubt (undoubtedly)
stilllikewisethis is whyof course
different fromwhereasfollowing thissingularly
even thoughlikewiseas you can seeunquestionably
otherwiseone other thingfor all of those reasonsusually

2. Use a Variety of Words When Citing Examples

especiallyfor one thingin particular (particularly)specifically
chieflyas an illustrationmarkedlythis can be seen in
for/as an exampleillustrated with/bynamelysuch as
for instancein this caseincludingin fact

Easy Ways to Improve Your Essay

3. Use Different Words to Order Events and Sequence Time

first... second... third...currentlywith this in mindin turn
generally... furthermore... finallyduringfor nowlater on
in the first place... also... lastlyearlierimmediatelymeanwhile
to be sure... additionally... lastlyeventuallyin the meantimenext
first... just in the same way... finallyfinallyfor the time beingthen
basically... similarly... as well asfirst of allthe next stepsimultaneously
afterwardto begin within conclusionsoon
at firstin the first placein timewhile

4. Use Interesting Words When Summarizing

after allin any eventin other wordson balance
all in allin briefin shortthat is (that is to say)
all things consideredin conclusionin brieftherefore
brieflyin essencein summaryto put it differently
by and largeindeedin the final analysisto sum up
henceon the wholein the long runto summarize
in any caseoverallnamelyfinally
lastlyonce and for allconclusivelyat the end

Examples of Using Transition Words

Example 1

Without transition words:

Cell phones have changed our family communication for the worse. Parents complain about their teenagers spending too much time on their phones. Teenagers are annoyed that they can't get the attention of their parents, who are always working or shopping on their phones. We need to make some changes.

Adding transition words:

Generally speaking, cell phones have changed our family communication for the worse. Obviously, parents complain about their teenagers spending too much time on their phones. Moreover, teenagers are annoyed that they can't get the attention of their parents, who are always working or shopping on their phones. Unquestionably, we need to make some changes.

Example 2

Without transition words

Liz went to the store to get some groceries. She ran into her roommate Joy in the produce section. They argued about whether they were out of blueberries and what they should buy for dinner. Joy insisted that she was better at choosing ripe avocados. Liz retorted that Joy didn't know how to make guacamole correctly and that she was tired of Mexican food every night. They bickered for five minutes. Joy's phone rang. It was their friend Mark inviting them over to his house for dinner. Listening, Liz smiled and nodded. Joy laughed and told him, "We are on our way!"

With transition words

After work, Liz went to the store to get some groceries. In the produce section, she ran into her roommate Joy. First of all, they argued about whether they were out of blueberries, and secondly what they should buy for dinner. Next, Joy insisted that she was better at choosing ripe avocados. Simultaneously, Liz retorted that Joy didn't know how to make guacamole correctly and that she was tired of Mexican food every night. Subsequently, they bickered for five minutes. Finally, Joy's phone rang. Luckily, it was their friend Mark inviting them over to his house for dinner. Listening, Liz smiled and nodded. Consequently, Joy laughed and told him, "We are on our way!"

Definitive Pronouns

That vs. Which 'That' is used as part of a clause that is restrictive, meaning that the clause is essential to the sentence and without it the meaning of the rest of the sentence would be different. 'Which' is used as part of a clause that may add extra information or a shade of meaning, but is not required in the same way. Fill in the blank with the best word: that or which.

1. The last movie _____ we went to see was ‘The Box Trolls’.

2. I wrote down everything important in my notebook, _____ is blue and wide-ruled.

3. This computer, _____ Mom got me last Christmas, has the horsepower to play the latest online games.

4. The table _____ the peace treaty was signed on is now in the Smithsonian.

5. The truck _____ we saw driving dangerously had California license plates.

6. I finally found my blue pen, _____ had been lost seemingly forever.

7. Typing, _____ is not formally taught in schools anymore, is still essential in certain professions.

8. There are traditionally seven colors _____ make up a rainbow.

9. On the wall, I keep the racket _____ I used to win the school’s tennis tournament.

10. That silly cartoon tie, _____ I got a few Father’s Days ago, was a hit at my presentation!


  1. That 2. Which 3. Which 4. That 5. That 6. Which 7. Which 8. That 9. That 10. Which

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2 Responses to “IELTS Band 9 – Linking Words (Connectives)”

  1. Mounika vemu

    I have got no words to THANK YOU ,such a marvellous work.A thousand Thanks for this great work, i became clearer with the difference between which and that after going through this class.Thank you the team.

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