Do linking expressions drive you bananas?
Welcome back to my blog series on linking expressions! If you haven’t seen my previous blog, take a look after you’ve read this blog post.
Today I’m going to outline typical examples of common mistakes students make in logic and grammar and I’ll give you a few tips on how to avoid them in the exam.
Once you have understood the meaning of a linking expression, it’s really important to study how it links ideas logically and grammatically. For example, just because ‘although’ has a similar meaning as ‘however’, it doesn’t mean that we can use them the same way in a sentence. That’s why it’s important to study linking expressions through short, simple examples.
I really love fruit. However, I don’t like bananas. ✅
I really love fruit. Although I don’t like bananas. ❌
Although I really love fruit, I don’t like bananas. ✅
As you can see, sometimes a linking expression connects ideas across two separate sentences and sometimes it combines two sentences into one. It’s important to notice whether to use one or two sentences. The words ‘and’, ‘but’ and ‘also’, for example, combine sentences, which is why they shouldn’t be used at the start of the sentence.
I like apples. And I like peaches.❌
I like apples and I like peaches. ✅
Many linking words can be used in more than one position in the sentence, as you can see in these examples.
I really like fruit. However, bananas are not my favourite.
I really like fruit. Bananas, however, are not my favourite.
I really like fruit. Bananas are not my favourite, however.
The problem is that you can’t just insert any linking word into these positions in the sentence because what is possible for some might not be possible for others. Therefore, it is really important to study possible positions for each linking expression within the sentence and only use them where you know they work.
In some cases, you also have to be careful about how you arrange the ideas around the linking expression.
Due to an allergy, I cannot eat strawberries. ✅
I cannot eat strawberries due to an allergy ✅
I am allergic to strawberries, so I cannot eat them. ✅
So, I cannot eat them, I am allergic to strawberries. ❌
Both ‘due to’ and ‘so’ link reason and result, but while ‘due to’ needs to be in the same half of the sentence as the reason, ‘so’ needs to be with the result. ‘So’ may be a very simple example, but it illustrates the point that it is very important to understand the logical relationship linking expressions created between the different ideas in your writing.
As a consequence of my strawberry allergy, I cannot drink strawberry milk.
I cannot drink strawberry milk, as a consequence of my strawberry allergy.
I have a strawberry allergy. Consequently, I cannot drink strawberry milk.
As you can see, ‘as a consequence of’ and ‘consequently’ look very similar and have the same meaning, but they are used very differently within the sentence: ‘As a consequence of’ usually combines two ideas in a single sentence and is placed with the reason while ‘consequently’ links ideas across two sentences and is placed with the result.
Finally, remember that in the written exam, you should use formal language, so you’ll need to consider style when studying linking expressions. For example, the word ‘though’ has the same meaning as the word ‘although’, but it is not really a formal way of linking ideas.
Figuring all of this out and remembering it takes a lot of time and effort, but there’s good news, too: For the writing part of the exam, you don’t need to know hundreds of linking expressions. It’s much better to study a reasonable number of linking expressions for each situation (e.g. reason and result, contrast, addition) in detail and arrange the ideas you are trying to express accordingly.
Top Tips for studying linking expressions: