Top Tips for IELTS

How to vary linking words in essays – adding points

In this lesson I hope to show you simple different ways to add points in IELTS essays and to avoid using some very common essay linking words such as “firstly”, “secondly” “furthermore” and “moreover”. You’ll find some ideas for how to change these words together with examples of how it is done. There’s also an exercise at the bottom.

Why is this a good idea?

Well, there are marks for using different and more complex linking words and structures. The IELTS scoring system is clear on this. To decode it for you:

band 6 – using “mechanical”words to link your writing – and this includes “firstly”

band 7 – using varied structures but still over or under using some

band 8 – being completely flexible

band 9 – you can’t see it!!!

You may think that “firstly” is safe because you won’t make a mistake. In fact, if you are aiming higher it may be a mistake to use it!

If you are new to the IELTS game, I suggest you check out how IELTS writing is scored.

How writing is scored

Linking words that get used too much

These are the words that you should think carefully about using. They are “mechanical” words that are unlikely to impress and they also quite often get used wrongly. You can’t make your writing coherent by simply adding these words, you need to use them correctly.

Firstly,

Secondly,

Moreover,

Furthermore,

Step 1 – make sure that use the words correctly for lists

This is quite a common mistake. These words and phrases are only used when we are listing ideas that are similar. Don’t be tempted to start sentences with them all the time – only when you a list.

Some simple variations

I’ll emphasise that these are simple. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. You can still score well for coherence with simple techniques, you just need to use them flexibly.

First/second + noun

And

One/another

One/alternative

One/related/similar

Also

Likewise/In the same way

More important/less important

How to use them

These are just brief usage notes. You should see that this language can help you

  • link two shorter sentences together
  • change the structures you use and avoid repetition
  • help add more variety to your vocabulary

First/second + noun

The most basic option is change word forms. So

Firstly, more men are prepared to stay at home than before.

The first reason is more men are prepared to stay at home than before.

Secondly, women are more often choosing to have a career after they give birth

A second cause is that women are more often choosing to have a career after they give birth.

Is this better than using firstly? Not much really but note how by using adjectives (first/second) we also get to use nouns (reason/cause). You can change the nouns too to add more variety.

And

Don’t be surprised to see this here. It is the most common linking word in English. All you need to remember is that (for IELTS) it comes in the middle of the sentence and not at the start of one. If you have two short ideas, can you join them with “and”?

Children often prefer to spend time at school or nursery with their friends. Furthermore, this can allow them to socialise and learn how to deal with new people.

Children often prefer to spend time at school or nursery with their friends and this can allow them to socialise and learn how to deal with new people.

One/Another

It is possible for some women to take part-time work. Moreover, they can often work from home.

One solution for some women is to take part-time work and another is to work from home.

Note here how you can use “one…. another” to avoid repetition and perhaps link shorter sentences together. This is normally a better option than “first” “second”.

One/alternative/alternatively

Firstly, it is possible for men to look after the children. Furthermore, grandparents often have the time to help with childcare.

One possibility is for men to look after the children and an alternative is that grandparents often have the time to help with childcare.

Note here how I’ve joined the two sentences using AND – don’t forget that word! You can also use the adverb alternatively

One possibility is for men to look after the children or alternatively  grandparents might have the time to help with childcare.

One/similar/related/connected

Firstly, it is argued that women are simply better at looking after children. Secondly, it is said that children need their mothers more than their fathers.

One argument is that women are simply better at looking after children and a related point is that children need their mother more than their fathers.

Also

This is similar to and of course.

Some people still think that the mother’s place is in the home and she should not go to work. Furthermore, they believe that the father should be the main breadwinner in the family.

Some people still think that the mother’s place is in the home and she should not go to work. They also believe that the father should be the main breadwinner in the family.

Some people do not just still think that the mother’s place is in the home and she should not go to work. They also believe that the father should be the main breadwinner in the family.

Likewise/In the same way

These work in the same way as Firstly and Secondly in that normally they come at the start of the sentence. You can use them for similar added points.

One argument is that in the modern age it is simply wrong that the mother should automatically be the principal care giver. Moreover, many fathers would actually choose to become house husbands if given the chance.

One argument is that in the modern age it is simply wrong that the mother should automatically be the principal care giver. Likewise, many fathers would actually choose to become house husbands if given the chance.

More important/less important

This is a slightly different idea. Here instead of simply listing your reasons/arguments, you put them in order of importance. This is an intelligent approach! It also allows you to use a greater range of language and structure.

Firstly, it is true that not all parents have the time to look after their children themselves but want a family member to do it for them. Secondly, there is the problem that some families do not have enough money to afford outside childcare.

The most important reason for this is that not all parents have the time to look after their children themselves but want a family member to do it for them.  That some families do not have enough money to afford outside childcare is perhaps slightly less significant.

Challenge yourself – an exercise

Look at this question

Some people think that mothers should take care of their children and others believe that this responsibility should be shared with the father.

Discuss both points of view and give your opinion

Don’t write a whole essay – practise a writing skill instead. Choose one point of view to discuss and think of as many reasons as you can to say why you agree or disagree with it. Then write a paragraph listing those reasons. Post it below if you like, just don’t use firstly, secondly, furthermore or moreover.

Before you start writing you could check out this lesson which has advice on writing listing paragraphs. Don’t forget to start off by making it clear that you are going to list different arguments. This can be your topic sentence.

Get more writing help Read about listing paragraphs Try an essay lesson with listing examples

   

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10 Responses to How to vary linking words in essays – adding points

  1. Divya September 4, 2016 at 1:42 pm #

    One argument is that women have more patience to deal with children,especially young ones and a related point is that children often have much greater intimacy with their mothers than fathers.Also women are born with special skills and abilities to take care of children moreover many fathers find it difficult to cater to the needs of their children like mothers.

    • Dominic Cole September 4, 2016 at 6:32 pm #

      You cheated and put in a moreover!

      You do use a nice range of linking words and that is good. The real problem though is that you don’t have one of those famous topic sentences. You need to make clear what you are writing about. These arguments are just explanations of that main idea. This is a really important part of coherence.

      You should start something like: There are a number of different arguments why mothers are better equipped to look after children. That way everything becomes much clearer. I have a lesson on this:http://www.dcielts.com/blog/exams-and-continuous-assessment-sample-ielts-essay/

      I’ll amend this lesson so other people can see it too.

  2. Hani September 4, 2016 at 2:32 pm #

    Such great explanation…thank you !!

  3. Anonymous September 5, 2016 at 8:54 am #

    Thank you sir

  4. navdeep September 5, 2016 at 10:51 am #

    Thanks you sir.i need a help every time I got 6.5 in writing I don’t know where I need to improve my writing

  5. Haifa Khdair September 8, 2016 at 1:56 am #

    I believe that men and women should share the responsibility of raising children for social and economical reasons. In the age of consumerism, women and men need to work together to gain their bread. If both parents work, they should divide home duties between mother and father unless the mother choose to be a housewife to take care of children.

    • Dominic Cole September 8, 2016 at 6:40 am #

      This is an excellent paragraph – very nicely linked.

  6. AEC September 13, 2016 at 7:00 am #

    Most people believe that mothers should care for their children while others think that the role of caring for children should be done by both parents.
    In my own view, the role of caring for children should be for both parents, it shouldn’t be left for the mother alone. This will enhance bonding between both parents and their children., there will be less burden for the mother. Fathers should also be involved in the care of their children, it will enhance the father’s knowledge on how to care for His children, their needs will be met on Time..

    • Dominic Cole September 13, 2016 at 7:50 am #

      Excellent.

      Do you want to say “will” or “would” be better?

      Also be careful of linking within sentences. Look at the sentence beginning This will enhance again. You cannot join the two parts there with a comma

  7. SuperMark September 18, 2016 at 5:03 pm #

    You material really is a class apart. Great stuff.

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