Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Linking phrases are vital on both IELTS Speaking and Writing.

For the highest fluency scores, you must link your ideas.

You need both informal and formal linking words.

Today you’ll learn formal linking phrases for Speaking Part 3 and IELTS essays.

Today’s question

A listener sent a question asking about linking words.

How important are linking words and which are the most important, most effective and useable?

Linking phrases are very important for your score on IELTS Speaking and Writing.

You want to avoid low-scoring linking words like then, next and also.

Instead, use less common linking words and phrases.

Don’t miss a recent episode where we shared band 9 linking words like meanwhile and in the meantime.

You can find it here: IELTS Energy 1282: Meanwhile, Get Band 9 Linking Words

Learn according to function

Each linking word has meaning and must be used in the correct context.

There are linking words for time sequence, comparing and contrasting, adding new ideas and sharing examples.

Lean linking words and phrases grouped according to these functions.

You’ll then be ready to use them in the correct context.

It’s vital to learn a few different high-scoring words for each function to avoid repetition.

#1: Time

These are especially useful for Academic Task 1 essays.

However, they will also come in handy on Task 2 and IELTS Speaking.

Stories are vital for Speaking Part 2 and you will need time linking phrases to link events in time.

  • Initially
  • Subsequently
  • At long last

#2: Compare/contrast

Task 2 essays requiring you to compare or contrast will need these linking words.

They’ll also be useful on Task 1, contrasting information on maps and in graphs and charts.

Speaking answers also often require you to make comparisons.

  • On the other hand
  • Nevertheless
  • Nonetheless

You can, of course, also use ‘however,’ but it is more common and, therefore, lower scoring.

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#3: Adding a new idea

When adding new ideas, always start with a linking word or phrase.

Without linking your ideas, essays and IELTS Speaking answers will be choppy.

Instead of using ‘also,’ replace it with something higher-scoring.

  • Furthermore
  • Additionally
  • What is more

Be sure to follow these with new ideas or details.

#4: Examples

You must provide details and examples in your IELTS Task 2 essays.

Introduce these examples with linking phrases to boots Fluency and Coherence scores.

You will often share examples in Speaking answers as well.

  • For instance
  • As a shining example
  • As a case in point

Speaking Part 3 samples

In the podcast episode, Jessica and Aubrey share sample answers using these linking phrases.

In a typical family, who plays the leading role?

Where is the best place to raise a family?

Take note of how linking phrases are used in these answers.

Then, practice using them in your own answers.


Linking phrases are vital for your IELTS Speaking and Writing scores.

You can boost your fluency scores by linking your ideas.

Vocabulary scores can also be raised by using higher-scoring, less common linking phrases.

Today’s phrases are less common and will raise scores.

For all the strategies you need on the IELTS exam, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS.

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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