What is a connector?
A cohesive device (sometimes called a connective word or a linking device) is a word or sometimes a short phrase that connects your sentence to the sentences around it. Most commonly they are used for showing a logical link with the sentence before, showing the order of things or showing where you are in your essay. For example:
- In contrast, coffee consumption increased over the ten-year period.
- First, laundry is sorted into towels and linen.
In each of these sentences, you can see the word or phrase is separated by a comma. In the first example sentence, ‘In contrast,’ tells the reader that the information in some way goes against what came before. In this example, it is likely that the previous sentence was about something that decreased over the ten years. In the second example, ‘First,’ tells you that this is number one in a list of steps. You’d expect the next sentence to start with ‘Second,’ or ‘Next,’.
Why are connecting words important in IELTS task one?
The simple answer is that connecting words are important because your coherence and cohesion grade depends on them. However, these phrases also help you by making improving your flow and making your organisation clearer to the reader.
Coherence and cohesion is a section of your writing grade which looks at how you organise ideas and how well your writing flows. For a grade seven the requirements are:
- Logically organises information and ideas; there is a clear progression throughout.
- Uses a range of cohesive devices appropriately although there may be some under-/over-use.
Using cohesive devices effectively will help you with both of these points. This makes them essential to master.
How to use cohesive devices effectively in task one
We can see from the grading requirements above that there are two key points to using cohesive devices correctly:
Using the right amount of cohesive devices
It’s hard to give an exact number or even a range for how many cohesive devices you need to use in your writing. The main way your examiner will tell if you are overusing them is if they seem forced. As such, the best advice I can give is to use as many linking words as possible without forcing it.
Using a wide range of cohesive devices
You also don’t want to use the same linking words too frequently. Using the same word or phrase twice is okay, but three or more times might make it look like you don’t know many of these words.
How to learn connecting words for part one
The best way to learn these words and phrases is by looking at them in terms of what job they do. There are often multiple words that do the same job, so looking at the types can help you remember them better.
Structural linking words
These linking words are about showing where you are in the essay.
This is very useful in task one and almost completely useless in task two! ‘Overall’ signals that you are giving your outline. Given that you should always be giving an outline in your task one essays, this is an essential linking phrase. ‘In general’ is another phrase you can use here, but I think ‘overall’ sounds better
Overall, the popularity of television grew over the ten year period.
These are all used to show where you are in a sequence of things. This is especially useful when you are descirbing a process diagram, but can be used whenever you have a certain number of points to make. ‘To begin’ is useful for starting your first body paragraph.
First, the salmon are spawned as eggs in the upper river.
Finally, the salmon return to their breeding ground to lay their eggs.
Starting with/To begin
These are useful for starting your first body paragraph. You can also use ‘first’ for this job, but these two sound a bit nicer.
To begin, television audiences were generally bigger in the afternoon.
As for/With regards to
These signal that you are shifting to a new topic. You will often have multiple things or places to discuss, so using these can let the reader know that you are shifting to a new one.
In Adelaide, very few people had visited a cafe recently. As for Hobart, visiting a cafe was very popular.
Logical linking words
These words are all used to express that the idea in this sentence is somehow opposite or different to the previous sentence.
Over this period, sales of most format fell. In contrast, the amount of streaming grew.
The population of China will peak in 2070. Conversely, the population of India will continue to grow.
These phrases are useful for telling your reader the next sentence is on a similar topic to the previous one. You’ll often have more than one thing to say about each topic, so it can be good to organise your writing with these phrases.
After development, the new island will have eight new bungalows. In addition, paths will be constructed to link these buildings together.
These tell the reader the information in this sentence is factually similar to the previous sentence. This is easy to confuse with ‘in addition’ and ‘also’. The difference is that we use ‘similarly’ and ‘likewise’ when the facts are similar. ‘In addition’ and ‘also’ are for when the topic is similar.
In 1990, services were the largest contributor to the Indian economy. Similarly, in 2000 services massively outperformed industry and agriculture.
We can use these words to tell the reader we are going into more detail on what we were previously talking about.
The redeveloped airport will have several shops. Specifically, a relocated cafe before passport control, a set of shops after passport control, and another cafe in arrivals.
For example/For instance
We can use these for giving examples. ‘For example’ is the most popular phrase, so it can be nice to use ‘for instance’ to mix things up a bit.
There are similarities in energy production in both years. For instance, coal and gas make up the bulk of energy production in 1995 and 2005.
Task one cohesive device practice
You can practice using these linking words by trying out this fill in the gap exercise. For each blank, pick a word or phrase from above. You can check your answer below.
This map shows Southwest Airport before and after a future development. _______ several new conveniences have been added to this airport including new gates, a sky train and several new shops.
_______the landside section of the airport, several new facilities will be built. _______, in the departures area, the check in desk has moved and a baggage drop area will be constructed. _______, the cafe has been moved closer to the main area. _______the arrivals area, a car hire shop, an ATM and an additional cafe will be introduced to this previously empty building.
________ the airside section of the airport will be significantly expanded. ________, the number of gates will been increased from eight to eighteen. To accommodate for the extra gates, _______ the footprint of the airport will be built out into two spurs. ______ a skytrain will run from near the security gates. ________, shops will be constructed just after passport control.
Click the ‘+’ sign below to take a look at my answer to this exercise.
This is my version of the essay above. For some of the gaps, there are multiple correct answers. It’s absolutely fine if your answer isn’t the same as mine. If you’re not sure if you’ve made a mistake, you can ask by leaving a comment.
This map shows Southwest Airport before and after a future development. Overall several new conveniences have been added to this airport including new gates, a sky train and several new shops.
Starting with the landside section of the airport, several new facilities will be built. Specifically, in the departures area, the check in desk has moved and a baggage drop area will be constructed. In addition, the cafe has been moved closer to the main area. With regards to the arrivals area, a car hire shop, an ATM and an additional cafe will be introduced to this previously empty building.
As for the airside section of the airport will be significantly expanded. For example, the number of gates will been increased from eight to eighteen. To accommodate for the extra gates, first, the footprint of the airport will be built out into two spurs. Second, a skytrain will run from near the security gates. Finally, shops will be constructed just after passport control.