Updated Jul. 18 , 2018

Some words and phrases used to begin a sentence that show linkage to the previous sentence (关联词)

(Also called 'discourse markers') 


1.  Stating two contrasting points in a balanced way, not emphasizing the difference

2.  Stating two contrasting points and emphasizing the difference

3.  Talking about Similarity (相似,类似)  

4.  Contradicting (反驳)  

5.  Concession  (concede (v): 承认某事属实,有效,合理等)  

6.  Concession and Counter Argument (反论点)

7.  Persuading (说服)

8.  Dismissal of Previous Discourse (否定前话语)  

9.  Adding; Giving More Details

10.  Giving Examples

11.  Being More Specific

12.  Clarifying 

13.  Summarizing

14.  Speaking in General

15.  Exception  

16.  Stating the Purpose

17.  Emphasizing

18.  Giving Reasons

19.  Talking about the Result

20.  Giving a conclusion based on a logical argument

21.  Parallel Time

22.  Changing the Subject

23.  Returning to a Previous Subject

24.  Gaining Time to Think

25.  Talking about the Beginning

26.  Talking about the End


1.  Stating two contrasting points in a balanced way, not emphasizing the difference

On the other hand (另一方面)

I can’t decide which country to study in. Britain has many universities and a long history, so it would be interesting to study there. On the other hand, Australia has a nicer climate. It’s a difficult decision.


Alternatively (作为一种选择)

You could get a degree in accountancy in Britain. Alternatively, you could do it in Australia or New Zealand.


Then again (然而) (Used when an alternative idea suddenly comes to mind.)

We might get married this year. Then again, we might delay it for a year or two we haven’t decided yet.


2. Stating two contrasting points and emphasizing the difference

However (A little formal)

I’m interested in science and computers. However, my sister’s more interested in art and music.


Nevertheless (a little formal) (不过, 虽然如此然而, 仍然)

I wouldn’t say that all advertisements are a bad influence on children some of them are quite informative and entertaining. Nevertheless, I think some advertisements might be detrimental to children. For example, …  


Having said that =  That said 

(A little formal. Stress on the word, “said”. Meaning = “Even though I just said ‘A’, an alternative or opposing idea, ‘B’ is also true.”)


Learning English isn’t easy; it takes hard work and practice. Having said that, many people do become quite fluent after a few years of study.


At the same time (但是, 然而)

I think good teachers have to be quite strict in order to keep the class under control. At the same time, teachers should be warm and friendly so the students can relate to them as human beings.


All/Just the same (仍然,尽管如此)

Studying overseas can be wonderful experience for students. All the same, they have to work very hard to make up for their language deficiencies.  


Mind you (你要知道) 

(Esp. British English. Stress on the word, ‘you’. Informal = good to use! Meaning = “Even though I just said ‘A’, don’t forget this important opposing or contrasting point, 'B'.”)

To tell you the truth, I don’t really like my job very much. Mind you, the salary’s quite good!


Still (还是,然而)

It’s going to take me a few years and quite a lot of money before I get my doctorate. Still, I think it’ll be worth it in the end because …


Yet (还是,然而)

He does the least study of any of us, yet he almost always gets the best grades!


Instead (代替)

Don't overuse any of the examples shown here. Instead, show a variety of ways to express your meaning.

I don't read newspapers very often nowadays. Instead, I either watch the news on TV or I read it on the internet.


In spite of (this, that); Despite this; Despite that (但仍然)

The second hotel was more expensive than the first one, about double the room rate, in fact. In spite of  the cost, we chose to stay at the second one because we wanted a taste of luxury for a night.


Even so (尽管情况如此)

(In writing this is within a single sentence but in speaking it sounds like it is beginning a new sentence.)

Studying a foreign language overseas is much more expensive than studying it at home; (but,) even so, it’s definitely the best way to learn a language.  


Conversely (相反. Very good for academic writing, especially Task 1 in the Writing test, but too formal for everyday speech)

Global warming will probably result in some farming areas in the warm parts of the world becoming arid and unusable. Conversely, places that are too cold for farming now might become suitable for farming as they become warmer.  


In contrast  (相反)

Young people like films that are full of excitement and romance, reflecting how they feel about things. In contrast, older people prefer more subtle and thoughtful films.


3. Talking about Similarity (相似,类似) 


 Similarly (也,同样) (Hard to pronounce!)

Yes, I think there should be a little more emphasis on practical skills, especially in primary school. Similarly, in high school and university, there should be more emphasis on the practical application of what students learn at school.


In the same way (Also: In a similar way)

My grandmother taught my mother how to cook when she was just a child. In the same way, my mother taught me when I was about ten years old.


By the same token (相应地;基于同一理由)

Yes, I think we should try to follow the advice of our parents. By the same token, parents should consider what their children really want, not just what they themselves want.


4. Contradicting (反驳)

On the contrary (恰恰相反, 那不对)

Note:  Many students incorrectly think that this means the same as, ‘On the other hand.’ It does not. There are two usages of, ‘on the contrary’.

Usage a): The most common meaning is: “That’s untrue and I’ll tell you the true situation.” Or, “I disagree and this is what I think.


A: “I guess you're Canadian.”

B: “On the contrary, I'm Australian.”


A: “I heard you live in a big house.”

B: “On the contrary, I live in a small apartment.”


A: “But it was completely unexpected.”

B: “On the contrary, (I think) it was planned to happen that way.”


Usage b): 

Here is an example of "Usage b".

Speaker 1 “I think that's ugly.”

Speaker 2:  “I don’t think it’s ugly at all. On the contrary, I think it’s quite beautiful.”  


Here, I don’t think it’s ugly = “I think it’s beautiful in meaning. Both of these statements contradict what Speaker 1 said but the second, positive statement is more emphatic than the first, negative statement.

It is possible for Speaker 2 to simply answer, On the contrary, I think it’s quite beautiful.” but the usual usage is to first  contradict what the other person said.


In usage b), the form of the statement is this: negative statement + "On the contrary" + positive statement.

And, the negative statement = the positive statement in meaning.

The meaning of  On the contrary” here is similar to saying, “in fact”, “as a matter of fact” or “actually”.

In both usage a) and usage b), “On the contrary” is used when talking (or writing) about two ideas (facts, opinions, beliefs or feelings) that are 180° in opposition to each other.  


In the following example, the speaker or writer first makes a negative statement, “would not fail.” 

“Eventually, I came to believe that I wouldn’t fail. On the contrary, I became convinced that I would succeed very well.” 

This could either be a written statement or a spoken statement. It either case, it has a rather literary (文学的) or formal tone. The statement is similar to correcting or contradicting another person where, in this case, the "other person" is the speaker or writer himself and his earlier feelings about his own success. That is, originally this person believed, "I might fail" then he changed to have confidence that he would not fail.


The following example is similar to the one above in structure. However, although the use of, “On the contrary” here is acceptable it would be more suitable to use, “in fact” or, “as a matter of fact” because the speaker or writer is not correcting or contradicting another person but instead, is simply writing a description of the cost of houses in Beijing, a description that begins with a negative statement.

A house with a garden in Beijing is not cheap. On the contrary, a house with a garden in Beijing is very expensive. 

On the other hand, the following example of usage a) is suitable because Speaker 2 is correcting Speaker 1.

Speaker 1: “I was told that a house with a garden in Beijing was quite cheap.”

Speaker 2: “On the contrary, a house with a garden in Beijing is very expensive.”  


Advice about using, "On the contrary" in the Writing test

In general, I think most IELTS candidates should be careful about using On the contraryin the Writing test. In fact, it would be better to use alternative ways to express yourself, such as, in fact” or, “as a matter of fact”. “On the contrary” is mostly used in speaking (usage a) and its use in writing (usage b) can sometimes have a tone that is unnecessarily formal or literary. Not only that, when you use the words, "On the contrary", you should be contradicting or correcting someone. In the writing test, this "someone" would usually be "some people" who believe or state a certain opinion, which you feel you can prove to be erroneous.


5. Concession  (concede (v): 承认某事属实,有效,合理等)

(These examples of concession are often followed by a counter argument (反论点) beginning with 'but' or some similar word or phrase.)

These beginning words can be used to concede that the other speaker is correct.

Of course; Admittedly; Naturally; Obviously; Clearly; Undeniably; Undoubtedly


Of course, there’s always an exception to the rule but, in general, I still stand by what I said.

Admittedly, some people do waste money but I think the majority of people are pretty careful with their money.

Naturally, I hope to find a job that’s both interesting and well paid but, realistically, such jobs are hard to find when a person first starts working.

Obviously, there’d be fewer cars on the roads if they were much more expensive to buy.

Undoubtedly, millions of cars do produce air pollution but I’d say that the thousands of trucks that come into and leave the city during the night produce a lot of the air pollution that we see when we wake up in the morning. You only have to see the pollution produced by one dirty, old truck to know that.


6. Concession and Counter Argument 

'All the same' (see above) is another way to continue defending your opinion after conceding that the other person is not 100% wrong in his/her opinion.


Yes, I agree that some young people are spendthrifts but, all the same, the majority are not like that.  


7. Persuading (说服)

 After all  (毕竟,终究,归根结底); You have to admit


Most Chinese people about the age of twenty make their own decisions about important things in life. After all, they’re adults at that age.  


8. Dismissal of Previous Discourse (否定前话语)

 (See also ‘besides’ in 9. Adding, below.)


Anyway = Anyhow (无论如何) = At any rate (无论如何, 不管怎样) = In any case (无论如何, 总之)

Anyway, I eventually got there and nobody noticed that I was late! (After telling a story about being late.)


At least (反正, 无论如何) 

At least I got there before the main part of the ceremony. (After telling a story about being late.) (Notice no comma used after, ‘At least’)


9. Adding; Giving More Details

As well as that (= Not only that) (informal; good for speaking)

Art classes for, say, primary school children encourage the development of the imagination, creativity and self-expression. As well as that, these art classes provide an opportunity for those who have special artistic talent to become aware of this talent; they might never have known they had this talent if they had never had the opportunity to attend an art class.


On top of that (informal; good for speaking)

Well, firstly, emails are much faster and cheaper than handwritten letters. On top of that, they’re much more convenient you can read or write emails with just a few strokes of the keyboard, without worrying about paper, envelopes and stamps and going out to mail your letters.


Another thing is

I think the latest video technology is in many ways superior to books in educational value because this technology has written words but also has information in audio and video form. Another thing is, it’s easier to store and carry around a disc than a book that holds the same amount of information.


For that matter (Similar to, “As a matter of fact”, “In fact” and  “Actually”)

To tell you the truth, I’m not very interested in basketball. For that matter, I’m not very interested in any sport.


Besides (= “而且 + 无论如何 or 而且 + 不管怎样 的意思) 

I haven’t seen that film. Besides, I’ve heard it’s not very good.

There’s a restaurant near my home but I don’t often go there because it’s too expensive and, to be quite frank, I don’t like their service they’re much too slow. Besides, right now I’m too busy to eat out very often.

Note: ‘Besides’ is different to, ‘in addition’ because the word ‘besides’ introduces another idea that is in a different category, or a different ‘train of thought’ to the other idea(s). In the previous example, the first two reasons were criticisms of the restaurant; the last reason was separate from these reasons but, overall, was still an additional reason why the speaker does not eat at the restaurant very often.


What’s more (This sounds a little too formal and unnatural if not spoken in the contracted form. In other words, don’t say, “What is more”)

Yes, I think the internet has changed people’s reading habits for the better. I say that because now we can tap into a much larger range of, and volume of reading material than we could when we just relied on our collection of books at home. What’s more, topics such as current events are being updated daily so we can always be up to date with the news.


Furthermore (a little formal)

Actually, I think academic skills are more important than practical skills because, if you have highly developed academic skills you can usually get highly paid work. Furthermore, I think in the future, society will value those who have brainpower more than those people who can do practical things with their hands.


In addition (a little formal)

Reading allows people to become aware of their society and, in fact the whole world. In addition, reading is the main way that people increase their education and we all need to continually learn in order to make progress in our careers.


Moreover (Very formal. It is best not to use this in the speaking test but it is suitable for academic writing)

Advertisements that glorify violence are a negative influence on children. Moreover, I think they’re a negative influence on anyone who sees them, not just children.


10. Giving Examples

For example; For instance; As an example; To begin with; To start with; For a start


11. Being More Specific

Specifically; To be more specific; In particular; As a matter of fact; In fact; Actually


12. Clarifying

I mean; What I mean is; To put that another way; What I'm trying to say is; My point is ; In other words; That is (a little formal); That is to say (a little formal)  


13. Summarizing 

Overall; On the whole; Basically; Fundamentally; 


14. Speaking in General

Generally, In general; Typically


15. Exception 



16. Stating the Purpose

(In order) to (+ verb); (In order) to achieve this


17. Emphasizing

Above all;

Indeed (a little formal)

Q: Do your friends also like that kind of film?

A: Indeed they do!


18. Giving Reasons

In the first place; For one thing; The main reason why …; One of the reasons why …; One reason why …


19. Talking about the Result

As a result; As a consequence; Consequently; So; Because of this; In this/that way


20. Giving a conclusion based on a logical argument

So; Therefore (a little formal); [‘Thus’ and ‘hence’ are too formal even for the Writing test]


21. Parallel Time 

At the same time; Simultaneously; Meanwhile; In the meantime


22. Changing the Subject 

(It is uncommon to suddenly and completely change the subject when you speak in the IELTS test.)

By the way; Incidentally


“Yes, I had a good day at work. By the way, I saw your friend, Jenny, at lunchtime.”


23. Returning to a Previous Subject 

 As I was saying; As I mentioned before


24. Gaining Time to Think (Important for avoiding long pauses, which decrease your fluency score.)

Let me see; Let’s see; Well; You know (Do not emphasize the word “you” when you say this. Only emphasize “you” when your meaning is,  你已经知道吧!”)


25. Talking about the Beginning

First, Firstly, First of all, To begin with, In the first place, (These mean 首先, 第一)

Avoid using, “First and foremost” in the speaking and writing tests because it usually sounds like a cliché (陈腔滥调).


At first, Initially, Originally, In the beginning, At the beginning, (These mean 起初, 当初)

Note that “At first” does not mean the same as “First” or “Firstly”.


26. Talking about the End 

Last = Lastly = Finally = 最后

These three are used for listing several things that happen in sequence: “First, ….. Next, …. Then, … Last/lastly/finally ….”


Note 1: Beware of the following common error:

At (long) last = Finally = 终于

Many students write or say “at last” to mean “last”(最后) but this is a mistake. “At last” has the idea that someone has waited for a long time and it is usually used as an exclamation (叹词).


(After wandering in the desert looking for water.) “At last! Water!” = “Finally! Water!”

(After waiting for someone who is late.) “At last! You’ve arrived!” = “Finally! You’ve arrived!”

(After looking for someone for a long time) “We’ve found you at last!” = “Finally, we’ve found you!”







at (long) last


Note 2: The expression “Last but not least,” is (rather informal) spoken English and is not really suitable for academic writing. It is used to place special emphasis on the importance of the last item of a list, even though it was listed last. For example, this expression is often used when introducing several people, one at a time we use this expression before introducing the last person in order not to offend that person by having put him or her last. And in that situation it is often spoken in a jocular (滑稽的) way.

It is possible to use “Last but not least,” in the Speaking test but it has become overused in China and is rarely used in a suitable situation. It doesn't impress most examiners so it is best to avoid it even in the Speaking test. It would be better to say, “And last, but still very important, is ...”