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Linking Words for Cambridge Advanced (C1) Writing

Linking Words for Cambridge Advanced (C1) Writing


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Linking Words for Cambridge Advanced (C1) Writing

In this blog post, we’re looking at linking words/phrases and how they matter for your exams. Understanding them is really important, as is being able to use them effectively, especially from B2 exam level and up. If you’re already thinking ‘what are they talking about’ then you should definitely read on. And if you think you’re already a master with linking words, check out our activities and comment to show us that you’ve nailed it!

Linking words are basically words or phrases that are used to connect other words and phrases together. It’s really a means of creating cohesion in your writing or speech.

Without linking words you’d just have a bunch of random sentences without a clear connection to each other, and really, do you know ANYONE who communicates without connecting their ideas together? If you do actually know someone like that, send them a link to this so you can have better chats with them!


Yesterday evening I decided to watch a bit of a true crime documentary. It turned out to be such an intriguing case that I watched the whole thing. Normally, I don’t pay much attention to the show. However, on this occasion I was on the edge of my seat. The show was really well made and what’s more, it was nearly impossible to guess whodunnit.

As you can probably work out, the underlined items are all linking words. There’s a whole range of reasons that you’d want to connect ideas together like that. Let’s list a few with examples:


1. To compare

This is to say how things are the same or different to each other, e.g.

1. Trisha murdered her husband with a hammer. Similarly, Janice used a blunt object to murder her spouse.

Also, as with Trisha, Janice didn’t contact emergency services to get help for her dying spouse.


2. To show a contrast

This is to comment on the obvious difference between two people or things, e.g.

However, Janice hit her husband just once, to get him away from her.

In contrast Trisha struck hers 73 times, showing much more aggression and intent to harm.


3. To demonstrate condition

This is to say a situation depends on another situation, e.g.

Trisha is likely to go to prison for the murder, unless she is able to cover it up.

Provided that Janice can prove her husband was attacking her, she’ll probably avoid punishment.


4. To illustrate

That is to use examples or evidence to explain yourself, e.g.

In the case of Trisha; she could, for example, hide the body somewhere secret. There are a few options such as hiding him in the nearby woodland.

Those are all, of course, things that you should be doing in your essays, for example. After all, essays should be all about comparing and contrasting different ideas in order to make a final assessment in your conclusion based on that. You can’t have a cohesive essay that reaches a logical conclusion without using suitable cohesive devices (like linking words). You should really make sure to keep that in mind when you write!

Linking Words for Cambridge Advanced 

When it comes to the Cambridge Exams specifically, linking words and phrases are an important part of the ‘organisation’ element of your writing. Remember, there are four areas on which you are graded:

Each of those four elements is worth up to 5 marks out of the 20 total for each writing piece, with 3/5 the lowest passing mark in each category.


Each of those four elements is worth up to 5 marks out of the 20 total for each writing piece, with 3/5 the lowest passing mark in each category.

Organisation can be the easiest to score well in if you know what’s required of you. It’s not only linking words of course. There are a few simple aspects, such as having a clear Introduction, main body and conclusion (basically, a beginning, middle and end), and using clear spacing to separate your paragraphs. Though (especially at advanced level) the main thing they’re looking for is that cohesion. That the whole text has a natural flow, nothing seems out of place or disjointed. Linking words/phrases are a part of helping you to achieve that.

It’s not only the writing part where linking words matter though. They should be a natural part of your speech for the speaking element (for many of the same reasons as your writing, especially in the collaborative parts (3 & 4) of the test. Not to mention the likelihood that they’ll come up Use of English. That’s still not all though, because not only do you need to be able to use them yourself, you need to recognise them when they are used and the reason for which they’re being used.

That brings us onto the listening part of the exam. Essentially, linking words/phrases are used in the listening exam as a sort of ‘misdirect’. Especially the contrasting type. The speaker will lead you down a path of thinking that one of your options must be the write answer, then they’ll use a contrasting linker to completely change the meaning of what they’re saying. You’ll have to recognise when they do this and quickly realise what the actual correct answer is. (Pro tip: In the parts of the test with multiple short pieces to listen to, wait until the speaker finishes what they’ve said before you choose your answer. That way you won’t prematurely choose the wrong answer and get caught out).

So, we’ve established that these linking words/phrases are essential for your exams. So, what will happen if you absolutely nail them in the exams? Well, anything could happen. You should at least get some good grades in the relevant sections! The examiners are always looking out for them, so you can dazzle them with your flawless use and really make them love you and reward it!

And now, it’s over to you.

Let’s have a go at a practice exercise. Below, you can see an example essay that uses a number of linking words/phrases. Try to identify the different linking words used and see if you can figure out exactly what they’re being used for to! Comment with your answers and we’ll let you know if you got it right!

Question: Is it better to take holidays abroad or in your own country?

As increasing numbers of people choose so-called ‘staycations’ over holidays abroad, this essay will consider environmental, economical and educational factors to assess which holiday type is best.

Firstly, as a recent UN report says we have only 12 years to save ourselves from global warming, environmental factors are hugely important. Travel abroad often means using highly polluting forms of transports such as planes, whereas staying in your country makes less harmful modes of transport a realistic option. This suggests that more people should choose to stay in their own country when holidaying.

A common argument for holidaying abroad is that it opens us to new cultures and experiences. Most holiday-goers focus on ‘tourist’ locations (e.g. Benidorm) and experiences though, rarely experiencing the true culture of a country.

Another argument for holidaying abroad is that it helps economies that are dependent on tourism for their income, however with debts increasing in many places the expression ‘charity begins at home’ applies. We must prioritise helping ourselves first in order to help others effectively.

In conclusion due to the environmental damage and limited benefits, holidays abroad are unsustainable so we should choose staycations.

Remember to comment so we can have a look at your answers and let you know how you did. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for other videos in the series. Thanks for reading, let us know if you have any questions 🙂

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