Discourse markers

 
Discourse markers are very important to structure text or speech, to connect sentences in a meaningful and logical way. They are used to express contrast, reason, purpose, result, etc. Here you can find some very common discourse markers, their meaning and some examples.
 

by the way / incidentally

 
Used to change the subject, to say something that you have just thought and that doesn’t have to be connected to what was being said before.

  • Well, it has been a very productive meeting, don’t you think? By the way/Incidentally, what time is it?
  • I’ll try to fix my car this afternoon. By the way/Incidentally, do you still have that screwdriver that I lent you?

 

actually / in fact / as a matter of fact

 
Used to introduce information that might be in some way surprising or unexpected.

  • I don’t really like chicken. Actually/In fact/As a matter of fact I have only eaten chicken once in my life. 
  • Everybody thinks he has a very bad temper, but actually/in fact/as a matter of fact he is very kind.

 

anyway / in any case

 
Used to return to an earlier subject after a digression, or to get to the most interesting point.

  • It’s not so strange to lose documents. It happens to lots of people all the time. Anyway/In any case, we finally found the passports in …

Used to give a more important reason for something you are saying.

  • I’m too tired to go and it’s too late, and anyway/in any case it’s too expensive.

 

as I was saying

 
Used to return to an earlier subject in the conversation after an interruption or digression.

  • As I was saying, we could get up early and spend the whole day there. 

 

after all

 
Used to introduce an additional point that supports or explains what you have just said.

  • I might understand her better than you; after all, she is my wife. 
  • Don’t be too hard on him. After all, he is just a kid. 

Used to say that something is true despite what is believed or said.

  • He is not such a bad professional after all.

 

at least

 
Used to introduce positive information when talking about something negative.

  • Lots of people got injured in the accident, but at least nobody died. 
  • I finished last in the race, but at least I finished. 

Used to reduce the effect of something we have said, or to make something less certain or definite.

  • He knows the president, or at least that’s what he says.  

 

all in all

 
= Taking into consideration all the parts of a situation.

  • There were some mistakes, but all in all you did a pretty good job. 
  • Both TVs are great, but all in all I think this one is better for you. 

 

on the whole

 
= Generally

  • On the whole, men tend to avoid talking about feelings.
  • There has been some criticism, but on the whole, customers like what we offer.

 

besides

 
Used to add additional information (informal)

  • I think it’s a wonderful place; besides, it’s very cheap.

 

furthermore

 
Used to add additional (an often more important) information (formal)

  • Electric cars are becoming more powerful and energy-efficient. Furthermore, they are much cheaper than a few years ago. 

 

what’s more

 
We use what’s more to add something interesting to what we have just said. It’s similar to furthermore but more informal.

  • Scientists have found a big body of water under the surface of the planet. What’s more, they think it’s not the only body of water they are going to find. 
  • He said that the new season is going to be premiered this September and, what’s more, he confirmed that it’s not going to be the last. 

 

obviously

 
Used to introduce a fact that is easy to see or understand.

  • Obviously, without qualifications it’s harder to get a good job. 

 

basically

 
Used to introduce the most important point or characteristic of something.

  • Basically, what we do here is produce the plastic parts of the phone. 

 

in other words

 
Used to say what has been said in simpler words.

  • She said we should take a break and have time to ourselves; in other words, she dumped me.

 

that is to say

 
Used to explain or be more precise about something we have said. Similar to in other words.

  • The best thing about music is the repeatability; that is to say, you can listen to the same songs again and again and never get bored.  

 

otherwise

 
Used after an order or suggestion to say what will happen if that order or suggestion is not followed.

  • Be here at 8 o’clock; otherwise you will miss your turn. 

 

regarding … / as regards … / as far as … in concerned

 
= About. Used to introduce a topic of conversation.

  • Regarding/As regards the new player, we’ll have to decide if or when to sell him. 
  • As far as the new player is concerned, …

 

on the other hand

 
Used to introduce a contrasting fact.

  • Cycling is good for your health, and it’s a sport that is gentle with your muscles and joints. But on the other hand, there are many fatal accidents among cyclists. 

It can be preceded by on the one hand: 

  • On the one hand, cycling is good for your health, and it’s a sport that is gentle with your muscles and joints. But on the other hand, there are many fatal accidents among cyclists. 

 

whereas

We use whereas to compare and contrast two things or ideas. It means ‘while’ when it is used to express contrast.

  • The north is cold whereas the south is very hot. 
  • Whereas people used to aspire to have a big house, kids, dog etc., nowadays preferences are tending more towards apartments.

 


Do the exercises