How To Connect Ideas In English [with Linking Words]

Lesson Overview

Lesson Summary 

Learn How to connect your ideas in English conversations with 14 important linking words!

Connecting your ideas and thoughts in English is an essential speaking skill, so today you’ll learn 7 everyday, casual linking words useful in everyday conversations, PLUS 7 more formal ones that will help you sound more professional!

Use → and + as well as ← to ADD information
Use → but + whereas ← to CONTRAST information
Use → or + either or ← to provide OPTIONS
Use → so + as a result ← to connect REASON to RESULT
Use → because + since ← to focus on the REASON
Use → like + such as← to give EXAMPLES
Use → especially + in fact← to add EMPHASIS


Video Transcript
Section 1
Well hey there I’m Emma from mmmEnglish.

I’ve got a very interesting English lesson for you today. I’m going to teach you seven extremely common English linking words plus their professional equivalents. So linking words are words that link ideas together as you speak and you write so it’s a really useful skill to have.

They are useful words to know.

But in this lesson, we’re going to practise the casual, everyday conversational linking words alongside the more formal alternatives that will make you sound more professional when you’re linking ideas together in English. You probably know already that spoken English is generally more casual whereas written English is more formal. And it’s important to understand the formal and the informal uses of language.

When you use formal language while you’re speaking in just a regular everyday conversation, there is a danger that you’ll sound a bit stiff and a bit serious.

And if you use the casual, informal versions in a professional context, well that’s okay but you just might not sound as convincing or as professional as you want to.

All of the words in this lesson are extremely useful to help you communicate clearly and effectively in any situation so I recommend you watch it all the way through to the end.

I just want to take a few seconds here to give a little shout-out to the members of Hey Lady! who are watching today. Hey ladies! It’s great to see you here.

If you haven’t heard yet, Hey Lady! is our online community helping women to succeed in English. We make it easy and safe to meet new speaking partners and give you interesting topics to talk about together. We have an amazing team of expert English coaches who’ll encourage and support you at every step.

It’s the perfect place to practise because you can make mistakes without feeling judged and make real progress even if you don’t have a lot of time to spare. As long as your English level is intermediate or above then your English is good enough to join the community. And if you sign up today you can experience everything we offer free for ten days. I’ve put the link down in the description below, make sure you check it out and I hope to see you inside!

Today you get to meet casual Emma and professional Emma. Casual Emma is going to tell you about her recent trip to Portugal. And professional Emma is going to talk to you about tourism trends in Portugal.

Now I want you to sit back and watch and enjoy the story but all the while see if you can identify some of the linking words that get used. Words in my sentences that link to ideas or two thoughts together.

I just got back from my trip to Portugal. And I’m exhausted. It was an amazing trip but I’m really struggling with the jetlag this time. If I can afford it, I’d fly business class or maybe break up the trip by staying a night in Dubai. That might help. We wanted really comfortable weather so we travelled in May. It wasn’t too hot, it wasn’t too cold, it was perfect. I’d love to go back again soon because there’s just still so much I want to see and do. I really enjoyed the food on this trip, sweets like pasteis de nata, custard tarts and seafood like bacalhau, salted cod. Everything in Portugal is beautiful, especially those stunning patterned tiles that you see everywhere.

Did you notice some of the linking words while I was talking? I used and, or, but, so because, like and especially.

These are some of the most common linking words in English and I feel pretty confident that you know at least some of them.

Most of them if not all of them.

But if you’re feeling a little unsure about the function or the meaning in English sentences, don’t worry because we’re going to review how all of these words are used in English, what their function is, once we hear from professional Emma.

Professional Emma is going to give you a presentation and it’s going to feel a little more formal because of the language that she’s using.

In it, you’re going to hear seven more linking words that are often used in this type of context, in this formal context.

All of these words are still very common in spoken English but they are noticeably more formal than the ones we just went through.

Good morning! I’m here today to talk to you about tourism in Portugal. Portugal experiences mild winters and hot summers. As a result, it’s popular in summer as well as winter. The diverse landscape ensures that tourists can enjoy either a coastal holiday or a trip to the mountains. In fact, Portugal was voted the best European destination to visit by car in 2021. Since Portugal shares a border with Spain, it’s logical that many tourists are Spanish. Lisbon is by far the most popular destination. Tourists enjoy activities such as visiting the Alfama neighbourhood or catching the vintage tram 28 through historic neighbourhoods. International tourism has not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels whereas domestic tourism is currently booming. There’s just so much to see, even for the Portuguese themselves.

So did you catch any of these linking words?

Each one of them is the formal or more professional equivalent of the linking words that we heard before. Professional Emma used words like as well as, whereas, either or, as a result, since, such as, in fact.

We use and and as well as for adding information. We can replace and with as well as if you want to sound a little bit more formal or maybe you just want to add a little bit of variety into your sentence so instead of saying and and and and, we can add that variety by using as well as.

  • Portugal is a popular destination in summer and winter.

Or we could say:

  • It’s popular in summer as well as winter.

To show contrast we can use but in casual conversational English and whereas to sound a little bit more professional.

  • International tourism has not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels but domestic tourism is booming.

And we can simply switch out but for whereas. Whereas domestic tourism is booming.

But is definitely a way more common way to contrast ideas but that’s exactly why it helps to use whereas to sound a little bit more intelligent, a little bit more official, a little bit more professional.

Now let’s look at or and either… or.

We use these conjunctions to show alternatives or options or choices.

  • Enjoy a coastal holiday or a trip to the mountains.

So here we have one option and here’s the other. Option one and option two. Using either… or has the same meaning.

  • Enjoy either a coastal holiday or a trip to the mountains.

One important thing to note here is that we use or and either… or to connect two things of the same grammatical type in a sentence so that means we connect two nouns or two verbs or two clauses together.

Two of the same thing in the sentence.

  • Do you prefer chips or popcorn?

So we’re connecting nouns.

  • Either you’re driving me home or I’m catching a taxi.

So here we’re connecting clauses.

Let’s take a closer look at this word here for a second. Is it either? Or either? Have you heard English speakers using both types of pronunciation?

Both of them are correct. I want you to practise a little with me. Either. You could choose either or either, it really makes no difference at all. in fact, I use them both.

But this interesting combination of pronunciation creates another really useful interesting expression that you can learn.

If someone gives you two options to choose from but you really don’t care which one you can say either, either or either or, I don’t mind.

So it literally means I’m not fussed, I don’t mind, I don’t care which one we do because both of them are fine with me.

Either, either.
Either, or.

So connects a reason with a result.

  • The weather is nice all year so Portugal is popular with tourists.

So here’s the reason, the nice weather. And the result is that Portugal is popular. When we use so in this way to connect a reason to a result in our sentence, so always comes in the middle of our sentence because it’s linking these two clauses, these two ideas together.

And we can replace so with as a result almost interchangeably. So is more casual, as a result is more formal but there is one little change that we need to make, really important little change. We need to add and ahead of as a result. If it’s in the middle of a sentence we must make sure that we add and.

  • Portugal has nice weather and as a result, it’s very popular with tourists.

We can also use as a result at the beginning of our sentence as well.

  • As a result of the nice weather, Portugal is popular with tourists.

So can you see the difference in the way that these two examples are structured?

Here as a result connects two full sentences together but here it connects a noun phrase with a sentence.

Now sometimes you want to focus on the reason for something rather than the result. That’s when because and since come in really handy.

  • Because the weather is nice all year, Portugal is popular with tourists.

Or:

  • Since the weather is nice, Portugal is popular with tourists.

Because is really common in both speaking and writing but since is definitely the more formal choice here.

They can both be placed at the beginning of a sentence which helps to put some extra focus on the reason for something. And both of them can be used in the middle of a sentence.

  • I want to go back to Portugal because there’s so much to see!
  • I want to go back to Portugal since there’s still so much to see.

Now if you’re trying to decide between so and as a result or because and since, you need to think about where you want the focus of your sentence to be, on the reason or the result?

That’s how you make your choice.

Next up we have like and such as. Now I want you to forget about to like which means enjoy. When we’re using like as a conjunction or a linking word like this it means for example.

  • In Portugal, I really enjoyed the food, sweets like pasteis de nata and seafood like bacalhau.

So we can replace like with for example or such as and in a professional or a formal setting, they’re much better choices but in casual everyday conversations, like sounds so much more natural, friendly and relaxed.

There’s one more thing that I want to point out. Have a look.

  • Tourists enjoy activities such as visiting the Alfama neighbourhood or catching tram 28.

Like and such are always followed by a noun or a pronoun, aren’t they? Like pasteis de nata and bacalhau.

So if you want to use a verb you need to make sure that it’s a gerund, it’s the -ing form like visiting or catching here.

Last of all we have especially and in fact. These words are not actually interchangeable but they have a similar function in our sentences.

Both of them are used to emphasise a point, especially is an adverb and we use it to add emphasis to something, it shows that one thing is more of something than other things or people.

  • Everything in Portugal is beautiful, especially the patterned pavements.

The landscape is beautiful, the people are beautiful but the patterned pavements are the most beautiful part for me.

In fact is what we call a discourse marker, something that helps us to order and connect our ideas as we speak or we write. And we use in fact to give more information or emphasise something.

  • Portugal is popular with tourists. In fact, Portugal was voted best European destination to visit by car.

To emphasise the popularity of Portugal, I’m using in fact to add extra information and to highlight this important information and draw attention to it so as you’re speaking.

It makes people listen when you say in fact.

Here’s some extra information that’s interesting. It’s usually used to introduce a sentence but in some circumstances, you’ll see it at the end of a sentence as well.

  • Portugal was voted best European destination to visit by car, in fact.

Again it’s adding that emphasis, that interesting extra piece of information that you may not have known.

So that’s it for today’s lesson. I hope you learned something new, something interesting. In fact, you could prove it to me by writing some of your own sentences down in the comments below.

I’ll head down there now to check them out!

Links mentioned in the video

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