Connectors in English: How to Use Them

Are your essays in English marked poorly despite your grammatically correct sentences?

Have you ever been told that your paragraphs don’t connect to each other even though they talk about the same topic?

This is where English connectors come in—a.k.a., the words I’ve marked in bold above!

Today, I’m going to talk about what connectors in English are, the most common ones you’ll come across and how to practice them.

Once you’re done with this article, I hope you’ll agree that these words and phrases are simply magical!


What Are English Connectors?

English connectors are little words and phrases that help you connect sentences, paragraphs and ideas. Used both in spoken and written English, they help make your English sound more logical and structured.

You can think of connectors as like the thread that holds a necklace’s beads (i.e. sentences, paragraphs and ideas) together.

In fact, you probably already use them without even realizing it!

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Note that English connectors are different from English conjunctions. While conjunctions link two or more words or clauses within a sentence, connectors establish that two separate sentences or ideas are related to each other. 

To help you understand further, I’m going to walk you through some of the most common connectors in English and how they’re used. Some are used formally, while others are more casual. Some are even  interchangeable —that is, you can use them in place of similar words.

English Connectors for Cause and Effect

In everyday conversations, we often need to explain things.

Perhaps you were late for school because your car ran out of gas. Or you want to buy chocolates because you want to surprise your mother on her birthday.

Explaining things will be much easier if you throw in these important English connectors.

Let’s take a look at them!

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English Connectors for Cause and EffectUsageContextExample Sentences
Because -Indicates cause
-Placed in the middle of a sentence
-Used in writing and conversations
Formal and informal Sheila was late for school because her car ran out of gas.

I'm hungry because I didn't eat breakfast.
Due to -Indicates cause
-Placed at the beginning of a sentence
-Often used in writing
Usually formal Due to Jack's sickness, he missed two weeks of work.

Due to our budget, we can't go on vacation this year.
As a result -Indicates effect
-When followed by "of," indicates cause
-Placed at the beginning of a sentence
-Used in writing and conversations
Formal and informal As a result of her bad behavior, she wasn't allowed to go to the party.

We didn't sell many products last month. As a result, our profit was less than normal.
Therefore -Indicates outcome or conclusion
-Used at the end or beginning of new paragraphs
-Often used in writing
Usually formal (but can also be used informally) Apples are red and bananas are yellow. Therefore, they aren't the same.

Julia tries a new recipe every day. Therefore, she's had lots of practice cooking.
Thus -Similar to "therefore"
-Used at the end or beginning of new paragraphs
-Also often used in writing
Usually formal Learning a new language takes time. Thus, you have to be consistent.

Bob was extremely good at baseball in high school. Thus, he continued to play in college.
Consequently -Indicates effect (comes from the word "consequence")
-Similar to "as a result"
-Typically used in writing
Usually formal Ben didn't study for his exam. Consequently, he received a bad grade.

Leah has only cooked once in her life. Consequently, she's very bad at it.

English Connectors for Illustration

Giving illustrations or examples helps us prove our point and convince other people to believe us. These words help people understand what you’re trying to say and can help them see why you believe what you believe.

English Connectors for Cause and EffectUsageContextExample Sentences
For instance
For example
-Used in everyday conversations and in writing
-Most popular ways to give examples
Formal and informal I have good reason to believe that she is a bright student. For example, she was able to solve a difficult math problem in half the time that everyone else did.

Learning grammar is hard sometimes. For instance, I spent four hours trying to learn how to use the conditional.
Such as
-Used in everyday conversations and in writing
-Can be used to give examples and list things
Formal and informal If you learn English, there are many career options open to you, such as teaching, journalism, advertising and so on.

My father loves Italian food, like pizza, pasta and ravioli.
As an example -Similar to "for example"
-Often used in writing
Usually formal He's a dangerous criminal. As an example, he killed six women before being tracked down by the police.

English Connectors for Emphasis

While discussing an issue or idea, you may want to focus on a particular point or example. To make the listener understand the importance of that specific idea, you can use the following connectors.

English Connectors for EmphasisUsageContextExample Sentences
Actually -Used quite often
-Used at the beginning, middle or even the end of sentences
-Used in writing and conversations
Formal and informal Actually, I think learning English was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Using English connectors isn't new. Actually, it's more common than you think.
As a matter of fact -Used in writing and conversations
-Used to indicate a fact supporting an opinion stated beforehand
Formal and informal Spanish is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the United States. As a matter of fact, there are 57 million speakers!

Going vegan is actually pretty easy. As a matter of fact, I don't miss meat at all!
In fact -Similar to "as a matter of fact"
-Used in writing and conversations
Formal and informal We haven't had any success using this method in the past. In fact, I don't think it'll work this time either.

I love chocolate chip cookies. In fact, I make them every day.
Most importantly -As the phrase suggests, it's used to highlight or emphasize a point that's more important than the others already stated
-Often used in writing
-May be used in everyday conversations as well
Usually formal Most importantly, without sunlight, there would be no life on this planet.

When writing an essay, you have to be organized. Most importantly, you have to be clear about what you want to say.
Especially -Used to highlight a point or several points
-Used in writing and conversations
Formal and informal I don't think you should say that to Leah, especially since she's upset right now.

I love listening to music, especially rock and roll!
Most notably -Used to emphasize that a point (or several points) is important
-Usually appears in writing
Usually formal Thomas Edison is credited with many discoveries, most notably the invention of the light bulb.

Mark Twain is a famous writer, most notably for his book "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."
Of particular significance -Only used in writing
-Used to say that something is worth noting (compared to others)
Formal Of particular significance is his work on child psychology.

The discovery of a new species is of particular significance to the field of biology.

English Connectors for Comparison

Sometimes, we need to draw attention to certain similarities to make a point or explain something. This is especially important in writing!

To make better comparisons, use the following English connectors.

English Connectors for ComparisonUsageContextExample Sentences
Similarly -Used to say that the next point is similar to the previous one
-Used in writing and conversations
Formal and informal Cats enjoy playing with yarn. Similarly, dogs love chasing after balls.

Birds build nests to protect their eggs. Similarly, squirrels use holes in trees to protect their babies.
In the same way
In the same manner
-Can be interchangeable with "similarly"
-Used in writing and conversations
Formal and informal I love reading books. In the same way, my brother loves playing sports.

People need a balanced diet to stay healthy. In the same manner, animals need a variety of foods, too.
-Used to add to a point made previously
-Usually appear in writing
-Used at the beginning of new paragraphs to ensure they're connected to the overall topic
-Used as transitions (that is, these words make new sentences and paragraphs flow with others)
Usually formal The novel revolves around the love between two people of different social classes. Additionally, it explores racism in America in the 20th century.

Learning a language with flashcards is a method lots of people use. Moreover, it's great for remembering everything you've learned!
As well as -Can be used instead of "and"
-Used in writing and conversations
Formal and informal My sister is a painter as well as an excellent dancer.

Physics contains a lot of science as well as math.
Like -Used to give examples
-Used to show how two things are alike
-Used in writing and conversations
Mostly informal Andrew often goes to concerts, like his cousin.

He talks to me like we're strangers.
Likewise -Similar to "also" and "similarly"
-Used in writing
Usually formal She prefers tea over coffee. Likewise, her best friend also favors tea.

My friend Emily likewise studied English.

English Connectors for Contrast

Sometimes, we need to express different or contradicting ideas side-by-side. Doing this helps the listener or reader focus on important differences and makes them aware of the many sides of a topic.

English Connectors for ContrastUsageContextExample Sentences
Whereas -Similar to "while"
-Used in writing and conversations
Formal and informal Bill is good at writing, whereas Maria is good at speaking.

Spanish has verb conjugations, whereas Chinese doesn't.
Even though
-Used in writing and conversationsFormal and informal Although Rose was a hard-working student, she failed the entrance exam.

Even though you're young, you're very mature.
However -Similar to "but"
-Used in writing and conversations
Formal and informal You're very healthy! However, you still need to exercise.

Salads are good for you. However, they can be expensive.
On the other hand -Used in writing and conversationsFormal and informal I like sunny weather. On the other hand, my friend prefers rainy seasons.

Eating chocolate every once in a while is okay. On the other hand, eating chocolate every day is bad for your health.
In spite of -Similar to "even though" or "although"
-Used in writing and conversations
Formal and informal In spite of the rain, we went for a walk and enjoyed the fresh air.

Kate and Mary are good friends, in spite of their different personalities.
Despite -More common way to say "in spite of"
-Used in writing and conversations
Formal and informal Despite being warned, she still went into the scary woods.

I want to get more work done, despite being tired.
On the contrary -Mostly used in writingUsually formal I don't think he's guilty. On the contrary, I think he's quite innocent and deserves a chance to explain himself.

Many people believe that Earth is the only planet with living creatures. On the contrary, I believe in aliens.

English Connectors for Sequence

These connectors are useful when you’re giving step-by-step instructions or listing points.

English Connectors for SequenceUsageContextExample Sentences
Firstly... Secondly... -Used in writing and conversations
Formal and informal Firstly, you need to mix the flour, baking soda and cocoa powder together. Secondly, you need to carefully add the milk.

I disagree with what you just said. Firstly, there's no evidence to support it. Secondly, the logic used isn't strong enough.
First of all... Second of all... -Similar to "firstly... secondly..."
-Used in writing and conversations
Formal and informal I think learning another language is easy. First of all, it only takes a few minutes a day. Second of all, anyone can do it.

First of all, I check my emails. Second of all, I reply to important messages.
In the first place -Used in writing and conversationsFormal and informal I love ice cream because, in the first place, it's delicious. Also, it cools me down on hot days.

Learning a new language is important because, in the first place, it expands your communication skills. In the second place, it opens up new opportunities.
Lastly -Used to state the last point of a topic
-Used in writing and conversations
Formal and informal Lastly, the effects of the chemicals must be taken into consideration.

Lastly, I organize my desk before leaving the office.
Finally -When used in writing, it's an excellent way to begin the last or the second to the last paragraph
-When used in speech, you can use it to give the final instructions or end a conversation
Formal and informal Finally, mix all the ingredients well.

Finally, after editing the document, I proofread for any errors.

English Connectors for Conclusion

Finally, how do you let your reader know that you’ve reached the end? (See what I did there?)

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There are certain connectors that we usually use during conclusions or when we’ve reached the end of what we wanted to say. When writing or stating conclusions, you usually repeat the most important points.

English Connectors for ConclusionUsageContextExample Sentences
In conclusion Used in formal writing as a way to begin the last or "concluding" paragraph in an essay or reportFormal In conclusion, we can't ignore the role modern science plays in our everyday lives.

In conclusion, it's crucial for everyone to be on the same page moving forward.
To summarize Used in writing and conversationsFormal and informal To summarize, you need to directly confront Kevin about the matter we've just discussed.

To summarize, the story revolves around a young detective solving a mysterious case.
To sum up Used in writing and conversationsFormal and informal To sum up, I think Kayla should go to the party.

To sum up, bilingualism enhances cognitive abilities and opens up cultural opportunities.
All in all Used in conversations (though may also be used in writing)Mostly informal All in all, organizing a surprise birthday party for Josh was certainly worth it.

All in all, I'd say the science fair was a success.

Tips for Practicing English Connectors

Here are some quick tips that’ll help you learn English connectors more efficiently.

Make Your Own Sentences

To explain the meanings and uses of different connectors, I’ve provided example sentences for each. However, you’ll remember them much better if you come up with your own examples.

You can start by using connectors in your diary entries, notebooks, essays and the like. Soon, you’ll find yourself using these connectors in everyday speech as well!

Write a Short Story or Essay

To see the huge difference English connectors can make, try writing a paragraph without any connectors and then rewrite it using some of the connectors above. You’ll quickly realize that your sentences will flow better, sound more logical and become easier to understand.

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Learn English with Authentic Content

You probably want to speak English like a native (or at least try to). So why not learn from natives? Try watching a speech in English to get a good idea of how these fit together. Look for the ones with transcripts that you can write notes in, maybe even circling all of the connecting terms as you see them. 

You could also try a virtual immersion program. FluentU, for example, has a wide variety of videos on all kinds of topics.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

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Do Online Exercises

Finally, to check whether you’ve understood how to use connectors correctly, you can try online exercises from websites that cover English grammar.

For example, the ones on English Daily and English Grammar are pretty short and can be completed in a few minutes.

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There’s also ToLearnEnglish, which provides a brief list of common connectors before you solve the exercise, making it a great resource for review.


Now that you know the most commonly-used English connectors, you can use them in sentences and paragraphs with great confidence. Try your hand at some of the exercises I’ve suggested for practice.

So what are you waiting for?

Get out there and start incorporating these useful English connectors into your everyday life!

And One More Thing...

If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:


If you want to watch it, the FluentU app has probably got it.

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