by Liz Walter
When we speak and write, it is important to show the link between different statements. For example, do we want to add information, contrast two ideas, or show that one thing is the reason for another? Of course it is possible to use very simple linking words such as and, but and so, but it is useful to have a wider range of linking words, particularly for formal or academic writing.
In this post I will cover some linking words we use to show a contrast between two ideas. The most common are although or even though. Note that they can be used at the beginning of a sentence or between the two parts. When they come at the beginning, the two parts of the sentence must be divided by a comma. When they are in the middle, the comma is optional:
Although it was late, nobody wanted to go home.
We ate all the food, even though we weren’t really hungry.
Whereas can also be used either at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence. When it is at the beginning, it sounds more formal and would normally only be used this way in formal writing. In the middle, it is suitable for normal speech. While is very similar, but sounds slightly formal in either position:
This bike is great for riding around town, whereas the other one is better for mountain biking.
Whereas Green’s conclusions are tentative, Collins goes much further.
David was a very intellectual man, while his brother was more sporty.
Despite and in spite of are used to show that one thing is not prevented by another. Despite can be followed by a noun or a verb but note that the verb must be an -ing form. Do not try to use that after despite – this is a common mistake for learners. An -ing verb is also possible after in spite of, but it is much more common to follow it with a noun.
When despite and in spite of come at the beginning of a sentence, you need a comma between the sentence parts. There is no hard and fast rule when they come in the middle, but if they are followed by a noun, it is most common to omit the comma:
Despite being ill, she managed to finish the work.
She managed to finish the work despite her illness.
In spite of public opposition, the roads were closed.
The tickets sold immediately, in spite of being so expensive.
However and nevertheless are also common linkers that express contrast. They often come at the beginning of the second sentence in a contrasting pair of sentences and are followed by a comma. They can also be used within sentences, often with commas around them. However is a common word, suitable for all occasions, while nevertheless is more formal and suitable for formal or academic writing:
We were in a very difficult situation. However, Jess came up with an idea.
She was full of creative ideas. Most of them, however, were very impractical.
He is currently trailing in the polls. Nevertheless, it would be foolish to write him off.
If you found this post useful, look out for the next one, which will cover linkers for adding extra information, showing the reason for something, and showing things in sequence.