Welcome back to the third and final part in my blog series on common mistakes in using linking expressions. In the first blog we looked at the importance of understanding the exact wording and meaning of linking expressions and in the second instalment we considered the importance of understanding the logic behind the expressions.
We’re now going to have a look at the importance of studying how a linking word fits into a sentence grammatically. If the word ‘grammar’ makes you want to scream and run away, please don’t: I promise it’s not so bad.
Let’s look at these two examples:
They look pretty much the same, right? Wrong! (Sorry!)
So why is that? Let’s look at them again, this time in example sentences:
Because of the bad weather, we stayed at home.
Because the weather was bad, we stayed at home.
After because of we need a noun, or something that looks like a noun (a noun phrase or -ing form), after because, we need a full clause with a noun and a verb.
‘A noun phrase is a group of words that can be replaced by a pronoun: “the bad weather” = “it”.’
This was a pretty simple example. So let’s try something a little bit more ambitious. Before you read on, think about how you would use the expression ’as well as’ in a sentence.
You may have opted for something straightforward like:
I play the piano as well as the violin.✅
Or you may have tried something like this:
She plays the piano. As well as she plays the violin.❌
Don’t worry if you got this wrong. A lot of my students do. It’s a very common mistake.
Look at this example and see if you can work out what the linking expression as well as needs in this example.
As well as playing the piano, she plays the violin.
So, the linking expression usually needs a noun or, in this case, a verb that pretends to be a noun (-ing form). So, even though it looks more complicated, it’s really the same rule as ‘because of’. So far so good!
However, when we use the infinitive, we can also use the expression like this:
I have to do a practice writing test as well as finish the grammar exercises.
So: infinitive + to / as well as / infinitive - to
I have hundreds of examples of common grammatical mistakes with linking words, but I’m not going to share any more with you here, because we’ve already looked at two and that’s more than enough for one day.
We often say that it is quality and not quantity that matters, and to a certain extent that is true in IELTS: It is better to be able to use fewer linking expressions well than to use a lot of different ones incorrectly. However, that should not stop you from building your knowledge of linking expressions right up to the day you take the test. Just go at a speed that allows you to invest the time that learning the wording, logic and grammar of each linking expression requires.
Download our activity worksheet to practice:
Once you have completed the worksheet, download the answer sheet to see how well you’ve done.
Answer sheet download
Best of luck!