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Discourse Markers

by Anna Hogan, Business English Tutor for Unique Languages

Discourse Markers are those words and expressions in English that highlight what you are about to say, show a change in direction for the language, add something or emphasise something.  They are sometimes called connectors or linking phrases and are a necessary component of any letter or document in Business English.  

 

Be aware

Discourse markers are like tag questions in that there is a danger that language students can use them incorrectly, or use them too frequently.  This could mean that the writing suffers as a result.

 

Examples

Discourse markers are usually used at the beginning of a sentence and we have included some of the most common below.  For the most part, these are used in written English, but for some of them you can use them in spoken English instead.  

 

Adding some extra information

Moreover; In addition; Additionally; Further; Further to this; Also; Besides; What's more.

Initial position

 

Making a contrast between two separate things, people, ideas, etc.

However; On the other hand; In contrast; Yet.

 

Making a concession

Although; Even though; Despite the fact that; In spite of the fact that; Regardless of the fact that.

 

Saying why something is the case

Because; Since; As; Insofar as.

 

Saying the result of something

Therefore; Consequently; In consequence; As a result; Accordingly; Hence; Thus; For this reason; Because of this.

 

Expressing a condition

If; In the event of; As long as...; So long as...; Provided that...; Assuming that...; Given that....

Initial position

 

Making what you say stronger

On the contrary; As a matter of fact; In fact; Indeed.

 

How to Use Them

The best way to use them is to try them in a conversation or in a letter or e-mail.  Experiment with the language and get a native speaker friend or your Unique Languages trainer to help you if you are unsure.  Using too many discourse markers seems unnatural, so try and get the balance correct.  As a general rule, you should only use one discourse marker per written work.  

 

Do not be afraid to use a conjunction rather than a discourse marker, because these can add to the cohesiveness of a document.  

 

Anna Hogan is one of the team of Business English trainers at Unique Languages.  Unique runs English courses for Business in London, as well as on-line and by appointment across the globe.  For further information, please telephone 020 3566 0145, e-mail us or fill in the form on this page.

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