Cohesive Devices – Transitional Words/Phrases for essay writing

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One of the criteria for assessing your IELTS essay is cohesion and coherence. 

Coherence refers to the linking of ideas in a logical sequence or order.  Cohesion refers to the organization of sentences and ideas in your essay working together as a whole within their paragraphs.  They hold together by cohesive devices (transitional words and expressions). This makes it very easy for the reader to follow your presentation of  information in the essay. They don’t get lost or confused. Did you write in clear paragraphs that are organized around central ideas? It’s like listening to a story that’s smooth and easy to follow.

Here are some useful transitional/linking words and phrases to use to show the different relationships between your ideas and sentences:


  • also, again, in addition, additionally, furthermore, further, moreover, as well as, what’s more, besides this/that,

CONTRAST (show two things are different):

  • on the other hand, however, despite this, conversely, in contrast, on the contrary, although, while, though, compared with, in comparison with, rather, whereas, but, instead of, in spite of, still, nevertheless, regardless, otherwise

COMPARE (show two things are similar/alike):

  • likewise, similarly, also, in the same way, in comparison to


  • first, second (etc.), to begin with, initially, at first, then, next, from there, and then, following this, finally, lastly


  • for example, for instance, a good example of this is, such as, to illustrate, in particular, particularly, namely, specifically


  • therefore, as a result, thus, so, consequently, admittedly, so that, depending on


  • indeed, certainly, in fact, of course, undoubtedly, plainly, obviously


  • if. . . then, unless, whether, provided that,


  • in summary, in conclusion, overall, in short,  in brief, to sum up, in other words, all in all, to put it differently, to summarize, on the whole,


  • because, since, as, so, due to, owing to, the reason why

CONCESSION (accepting/acknowledging something is true):

  • granted, naturally, of course

This is not a complete list and of course, many words can link ideas in different ways depending on how they are used.

*NOTE: It’s important to not overuse so many linking words in your essays because it makes it even more difficult to read, rather than making it smooth and easy to read. So choose a few carefully when you write and make sure you don’t overuse these phrases.

 Want to get your essay writing checked? Here’s how: Essay Correction & Feedback 


I'm an English teacher specializing in IELTS preparation - especially writing and reading. If you have any questions, please ask! You can also sign up for weekly tips and lessons for IELTS and English!

Posted in Exam Information, IELTS Speaking, IELTS Writing, Uncategorized, Vocabulary, Writing Task 1, Writing Task 2 Tagged with: , ,
5 comments on “Cohesive Devices – Transitional Words/Phrases for essay writing
  1. Sid flavier says:

    Hello. I am planning to take my ielts test this coming september. So i was not sure if i can make it with the required band score. because, i was thinking if i have enough possible technique to deal with writing task and speaking. I hope you can help me on these.. Sid

    • Pearl says:

      Hi Sid,

      What band score are you aiming for? I have several posts written about writing for Task 1 and 2 and some tips for speaking. Search through the tags to the right side of this page (IELTS Writing, etc). If you’re interested in trying out a tutorial with me, I’d be happy to help. I can go over a simple process of how to answer the IELTS writing task questions and how to write the essays with examples. Once students have done an online lesson with me, they write practice essays and I give them specific advice and corrections on their essays with an estimated band score. Let me know if you’re interested – you can register here: for tutorials or here:’ll contact you and we can set up a time to talk on skype if you like.


  2. Christabel Mndawe says:


2 Pings/Trackbacks for "Cohesive Devices – Transitional Words/Phrases for essay writing"
  1. […]  They hold together by cohesive devices (transitional words and expressions – see my post on cohesive devices). This makes it very easy for the reader to follow your presentation of  information in the essay. […]

  2. […] cohesive devices means that your paragraph is fully developed  logically with clear progression of ideas and […]

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