Discourse Markers

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  • Topic: Sentence, Dependent clause, Grammatical conjunction
  • Pages : 5 (1175 words )
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  • Published : April 4, 2013
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Discourse markers (words like 'however', 'although' and 'Nevertheless') are referred to more commonly as 'linking words' and 'linking phrases', or 'sentence connectors'. They may be described as the 'glue' that binds together a piece of writing, making the different parts of the text 'stick together'. They are used less frequently in speech, unless the speech is very formal.

Without sufficient discourse markers in a piece of writing, a text would not seem logically constructed and the connections between the different sentences and paragraphs would not be obvious. There are many discourse markers that express different relationships between ideas. The most common types of relationship between ideas, and the sentence connectors that are most often used to express these relationships, are given in the table below. The discourse markers in the table are generally used at the start of a phrase or clause. (a clause is a minimal grammatical structure that has meaning in its own right, and consists of a subject and verb, and often an object too). Sentence connectors do not always begin a completely new sentence; they may be separated from the previous idea with a semi-colon.

Type of relationship
Sentence connectors
Position within clause/sentence
Adding something
Moreover; In addition; Additionally; Further; Further to this; Also; Besides; What is more. Initial position

Making a contrast between two separate things, people, ideas, etc. However; On the other hand; In contrast; Yet.
Initial position
Making an unexpected contrast (concession)
Although; Even though; Despite the fact that; In spite of the fact that; Regardless of the fact that. Initial position

Starts a second/ subordinate clause
Saying why something is the case
Because; Since; As; Insofar as.
Initial position

Starts a second/ subordinate clause
Saying what the result of something is
Therefore; Consequently; In consequence; As a result; Accordingly; Hence; Thus; For this reason; Because of this. Initial position
Expressing a condition
If; In the event of; As long as...; So long as...; Provided that...; Assuming that...; Given that.... Initial position

Starts a second/ subordinate clause
Making what you say stronger
On the contrary; As a matter of fact; In fact; Indeed.
Initial position

There are two particular features of the sentence connectors indicated above :

Sentence connectors can be used to begin a new sentence or a new clause that follows a semi-colon. Some sentence connectors can be placed in different positions within the sentence: initial position (e.g. Because he is ill, he needs to rest.) and 'mid-way position' at the start of another clause (e.g. He must rest, because he is ill).

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How can sentence connectors be replaced in order to increase variety in writing?
In your writing, you will want to spend some time ensuring that your work has a sense of variety. In order to do this, you might think of the following :

Use conjunctions as well as/instead of sentence connectors. A conjunction is a word like and, but, etc, which is used to join two ideas together into a complex sentence. Unlike sentence connectors such as 'However', etc, a conjunction cannot be used at the beginning of a sentence and must come at a mid-point, at the end of one clause and the beginning of another. It is usually possible to rephrase a pair of sentences that use a sentence connector by using a conjunction instead. For example, instead of saying 'He studied French; however, his wife studied Physics', it might actually be more natural to say 'He studied English but his wife studied Physics'. Similarly, instead of saying 'English is hard; therefore, one must spend a lot of time practising it', we can say: 'English is hard so one must spend a lot of time practising it.' These are simple examples, but the principle of paraphrase can be extended to other, more complex sentences.

Use conjunctions at least some of the...
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