common mistakes
CommonMistakes
Misusing linking expressions

Linking expressions can be confusing – not only to those preparing for the IELTS test, but also to the examiner, because a linking expression used incorrectly can have serious effects on the reader’s understanding of a text. You don’t want any loss of meaning to negatively affect your writing mark. For the Writing section of the test, it is important to study the exact wording used in linking expressions. Look at the two expressions below. Only one of them is a linking expression. Which one is it? ‘on the other hand’  OR  ‘on the other side’  If you chose ‘on the other hand’, well done! This is a linking expression used for contrasting two ideas. ‘On the other side’ is not a linking expression. You would use this to say something like ‘the other side of the street’ or ‘the other side of the room’. Here’s another example of a common mistake: We can say ‘in spite of’ or ‘despite’ but not ‘despite of’. Examiners will definitely notice these kinds of mistakes, so it's worth going over the linking expressions you currently use to make sure you know their meanings and use them correctly in sentences. Just because two linking expressions look similar, it doesn’t mean that they have the same meaning. Top Tip: Always make sure you have thoroughly understood the meaning of a linking expression. Memorising an easy and clear example sentence might help with this. On the contrary ... What do you think the expression ‘on the contrary’ means? When I ask this question in class, the vast majority of students immediately respond with ‘on the other hand’. Unfortunately, that is a very common mistake. Look at the two expressions again in these examples: Building playgrounds for children is not an unnecessary expense. On the contrary, providing children with a safe environment is vital to their mental development.  'I thought you said you hated school.’ ‘On the contrary, I love it.’ ‘On the contrary’ can be used to emphasise a previous sentence by the same writer or speaker (1), or to strongly contradict something that was said by a different speaker (2). On the other hand ... ‘On the other hand’ usually contrasts two different ideas (swings and trampolines in the example below): Swings are relatively safe. Trampolines, on the other hand, are often considered to be dangerous.  It’s OK not to be confident with linking expressions in your writing. Focus on the ones you know you can use accurately and slowly build up more as you go along.  Having a good understanding of a wide range of linking expressions will still be useful in the Reading and Listening sections of the test. However, accuracy is less important here as you can usually work out the meaning from context.  Top Tip: If in doubt, use an easier linking expression instead of one where you’re not 100% sure of the meaning. Language activity:  Download our activity worksheet to practice your linking expressions.    Worksheet download Once you have completed the worksheet, download the answer sheet to see how well you’ve done.    Answer sheet download Hope you found this useful, we’ll be covering more common mistakes in later blogs so please come back for more. Sophie  

Sophie Hodgson

28 February, 2020

Misusing linking expressions

common mistakes

Linking expressions can be confusing – not only to those preparing for the IELTS test, but also to the examiner, because a linking expression used incorrectly can have serious effects on the reader’s understanding of a text. You don’t want any loss of meaning to negatively affect your writing mark.

For the Writing section of the test, it is important to study the exact wording used in linking expressions. Look at the two expressions below. Only one of them is a linking expression. Which one is it?

on the other hand’ 

OR 

on the other side’ 


If you chose ‘on the other hand’, well done! This is a linking expression used for contrasting two ideas. ‘On the other side’ is not a linking expression. You would use this to say something like ‘the other side of the street’ or ‘the other side of the room’.

Here’s another example of a common mistake:

We can say ‘in spite of’ or ‘despite’ but not ‘despite of’.

Examiners will definitely notice these kinds of mistakes, so it's worth going over the linking expressions you currently use to make sure you know their meanings and use them correctly in sentences. Just because two linking expressions look similar, it doesn’t mean that they have the same meaning.

top-tip

Top Tip: Always make sure you have thoroughly understood the meaning of a linking expression. Memorising an easy and clear example sentence might help with this.

On the contrary ...

What do you think the expression ‘on the contrary’ means? When I ask this question in class, the vast majority of students immediately respond with ‘on the other hand’. Unfortunately, that is a very common mistake.

Look at the two expressions again in these examples:

  1. Building playgrounds for children is not an unnecessary expense. On the contrary, providing children with a safe environment is vital to their mental development. 
  2. 'I thought you said you hated school.’ ‘On the contrary, I love it.’

‘On the contrary’ can be used to emphasise a previous sentence by the same writer or speaker (1), or to strongly contradict something that was said by a different speaker (2).


On the other hand ...

‘On the other hand’ usually contrasts two different ideas (swings and trampolines in the example below):

Swings are relatively safe. Trampolines, on the other hand, are often considered to be dangerous. 

It’s OK not to be confident with linking expressions in your writing. Focus on the ones you know you can use accurately and slowly build up more as you go along. 

Having a good understanding of a wide range of linking expressions will still be useful in the Reading and Listening sections of the test. However, accuracy is less important here as you can usually work out the meaning from context. 

top-tip

Top Tip: If in doubt, use an easier linking expression instead of one where you’re not 100% sure of the meaning.

Language activity: 

Download our activity worksheet to practice your linking expressions. 

 

Download Worksheet

Worksheet download

Once you have completed the worksheet, download the answer sheet to see how well you’ve done. 

 

Answer Sheet

Answer sheet download

Hope you found this useful, we’ll be covering more common mistakes in later blogs so please come back for more.

Sophie

 

Common Mistakes at IELTS Advanced used by Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

Sophie has been supporting students on their IELTS journey since 2003 and feels privileged to have watched them succeed. While most people probably do not like taking tests, Sophie believes that preparing for the IELTS exam can be both interesting and fun. She loves language and structure and enjoys exploring both with her students to help them achieve their aims.

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