Signposting Language In Essays Do You Underline

Here is a list of linking words for your IELTS speaking with tips and models. For speaking you need some simple linking words and natural phrases to help the examiner follow your ideas and stories. These linking words  and signposts are simple and informal on the whole. IELTS writing is different and requires the use of a wide range of linkers.


Adding more information

  • and
  • also
  • as well as
  • another reason is

Time Phrases

You should use signposts to help the listening understand when you are talking about the past or the present.

  • now
  • at the moment
  • at present
  • right now
  • these days
  • nowadays
  • in the past
  • before
  • then
  • at that time
  • years ago
  • when I was younger

Expressing ideas

  • I think one important thing is
  • I guess one difference is
  • I suppose the main difference between X and Y is

Causes and Solutions

  • I guess it’s because
  • The main reason is
  • It was caused by
  • Because
  • I suppose the best way to deal with this problem is
  • I reckon the only answer is to
  • The best way to solve this is

Giving Examples

These connective devices are for giving examples in your answers. The most common and natural to use is “like”. Please note that “like” can’t be used as a linking device in IELTS writing.

  • for example
  • for instance
  • such as
  • like

Being Clear

You use these simple, natural expression to explain your point again more clearly or get your answer back on track.

  • What I mean is
  • What I want to say is
  • As I was saying

Contrasting and concessions

Use these connecting words to compare and contrast or give concessions.

  • but
  • on the other hand
  • while
  • although
  • or

Free PDF Download: Linking words for IELTS Speaking

Examples of Linking Words in Speaking

Look at the following questions and answers. See what linking words are contained in the answers.

Q. Do you eat much fruit?

A. Yes, I do. I love tropical fruit like mangoes and pineapples.

Comments: We would not use “for example” in this type of sentence which relates to our everyday life.

Q. Do you think fast food is bad?

A. Yes, I do. If it is eaten too often, it can cause problems such as heart disease or diabetes. Also, it can lead to weight problems which are really common nowadays.

Comments: You could use “such as” or “for example” in this sentence because the content is more serious. Please note that we don’t use “furthermore” or “in addition” for speaking, instead we use “also” or “and”.

Q. Do children play similar games today that they played in the past?

A. No, I don’t think they do. Before, children used to play simple games like hide and seek or they used to play with simple handmade toys. But, these days, kids tend to prefer computer games and their toys are battery operated. 

Comments: This answer contained time phrases for the past and present “before” and “these days”. It also had an example “like”. “Like” is the main example linking word for speaking and can be repeated again and again. This answer also uses a contrasting linking word “but”. “But” is the main contrasting linking word in speaking and can be repeated many times.

Mistakes with Linking Words in Speaking

The example below will help you understand how not to answer a question with linking words.

Q. Do you like going out with friends?

A. Yes, I do. Firstly, it gives me a chance to relax. Secondly, I can catch up on their news. Last but not least, it allows me the opportunity to visit new places.

Comments: The method of linking is too formal. It is inappropriate and is not a good for a high score.

See below what the answer should be:

A. Yes, I do. It’s great being able to chill out and catch up with their news. Also we often go out to new places which I really enjoy.

Comments: This answer was more natural and would be marked higher in IELTS speaking. The linking words are used appropriately (and / also).

Tips for Linking Devices in IELTS Speaking

  • Don’t use formal linking words for simple questions about yourself and your life.
  • Don’t worry about repeating linking words. This is different to IELTS writing.
  • The most common linking words for speaking are: and, but, because, also, like (for giving examples)
  • “Like” is only used as a linking word to give examples in speaking NOT in writing.
  • You do not get a higher score because used a range of linking devices.
  • Linking words in speaking are just to help the listener understand better.
  • Linking words are used naturally not formally in IELTS speaking.
  • Linking words are part of the criterion of “Fluency and Coherence” which is 25% of your marks.

Linking Devices for IELTS Writing

The following link will provide you with a list of Essential Linking Words for Writing Task 2. For IELTS writing, you MUST use a range of formal linking words in your essay to get a high score. This is applicable to both GT and academic students.

IELTS Speaking Questions

IELTS speaking common questions and topics to practice for your test.

IELTS Speaking Part 1 Topics

IELTS Speaking Part 2 Topics

IELTS Speaking Part 3 Topics

IELTS Speaking Model Answers and Tips:

IELTS Speaking Page

Main IELTS Pages

Develop your IELTS skills with tips, model answers, lessons, free videos and more.



Tip 1 - First and second person pronouns
Tip 2 - Complex sentences
Tip 3 - Signposting & Linking
Tip 4 - Read questions carefully
Tip 5 - Answer the question
Tip 6 - Be very, very careful when taking notes


This point is a bit controversial. Some lecturers will say that you can use 'I' in the introduction. Others will say that you shouldn't do it. So it is safer for you to avoid it. Likewise with 'you,' it is safer to avoid it. Here's how.

In this essay, I will demonstrate ... This essay will demonstrate ...
Firstly, I will look at ...

Firstly, this paper will ...

As you can see ... As can be seen ...
You may wonder ... A question a reader may have is ...


If you have mastered basic sentence structure, you can make your sentences more interesting and more succinct by considering that in academic writing, nouns are often preceded or followed by one or two words or a phrase. These words are known as modifiers as they modify the noun.

You can also combine sentences.


There was a rise in temperature. It was attributed to an increase in greenhouse gases.

There was an unexpected rise in temperature. It was attributed to a sharp increase in greenhouse gases.

The unexpected rise in temperature was attributed to a sharp increase in greenhouse gases.

The unexpected rise in what had for hundreds of years been a steady temperature was attributed to a sharp increase in greenhouse gases.


Make sure that you use appropriate signposting and linking words and phrases. They make your ideas clearer and easier for your readers to follow.


firstly, secondly, finallly

the aim is
the purpose of this paper is
this paper critically examines
this essay argues

also, in addition, furthermore, as well, similarly

because, because of, due to, for this reason

as a result, thus, therefore, consequently

for example, for instance, an example of this, to illustrate the point, to exemplify

after that, before that, next

however, even though, but, despite, although, on the other hand


How can we use these words? Try the quizzes below to get some practice with the meaning and the grammar associated with the words.


The first time you do a quiz, you will need to sign up and register (steps 1 - 4)..

Search for the course called T4E. Use the 'exact match' button.

1. click link to quizzes 13 - 15

2. click yellow 'sign-up' arrow.

3. search for t4e

4. click blue link 'go to classes'

5. Click '24 untaken quizzes'

6. Click TAKE next to quiz 13 --> start quiz --> start quiz.

QUIZ 22, 23, 24
(Signposting & Linking 1, 2, 3)


If you do everything else perfectly, but you don't read the question carefully, your work may still fail! READ THE QUESTION. It is always surprising how many students don't do this!!

Does your task / question tell you to ... ?

  • discuss
  • compare
  • contrast
  • compare and contrast
  • analyse
  • explain
  • give reasons

Make sure you do what it asks. Maybe you don't really understand what the words mean or you are not sure what to do. In that case your options are:

  • guess
  • ask a friend
  • use a dictionary or the internet
  • just hand in something (anything is better than nothing)
  • ask your lecturer.

Which option do you think is best?

A combination of these things is probably best. Do some research yourself by asking friends and checking a dictionary or online. Then when you've tried to find the answer, check with your lecturer. Make sure that you are on the right track.


When you start your work, read the question carefully. Make sure that your research is relevant to the question. Underline the important words in the question. When you are half way through, go back and check the question, make sure that you are actually answering it. Just before you finish, go back to the question / task sheet again and check. Make sure that you are doing all of the things that you have underlined. Make sure that you are answering the question.

A brilliant paper that doesn't answer the question will probably score poorly!


An important academic skill is careful notetaking. Each time you read a text, take notes and make sure that you write down ALL of the information that you will need to use for the List of References. You need to take notes of the author, year of publication, name of text, publisher, location and page numbers.

Here's a video lesson that helps you focus on the source information you need to put into your notes. NOTE-TAKING VIDEO 1 - Take notes efficiently


If you copy quotes to use later and forget to write down the author's name, name of text, publication date and so on, you WON'T BE ABLE TO USE YOUR QUOTE. If you use your quote without all of this information, you will not be able to cite properly or maybe not be able to cite at all. You may find yourself guilty of plagiarism.

Here's a video lesson that helps you focus on paraphrasing and quotations in your note-taking. NOTE-TAKING VIDEO 2 - Mind your Ps & Qs


Efficient note-taking is probably one of the most basic and one of the most important skills to help you through your academic life.

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