When we read, we are able to understand the meaning of a sentence or a passage more clearly when signal words -- or connectives -- are used.
By themselves, these signal words have little or no meaning at all, but used in sentences or passages, they "signal" the relationships between ideas. Thus, we comprehend sentences and passages better.
For writers, connectives help communicate messages and meanings more clearly. These signal words provide the smooth transition from one idea to the next, coordinate ideas, and/or warn readers.
Connectives can be classified according to the messages they give:
- GO signals - These coordinating connectives tell the reader that an equivalent or similar idea follows, or that preceding sentences will continue in the same line of thought. These GO signals are "and," "in addition," "also," "furthermore" or "besides."
Sequence signals such as "first," "second," "third," "fourth," "next" or "finally" are also considered GO signals.
- CAUTION signals - Connectives that imply caution direct the reader's attention to conclusions or summaries. Caution signals tell the reader that the next sentence or line of thought is important. Caution signals are "thus," "therefore," "hence," "consequently" and "in conclusion."
- TURN signals - Turn signals warn readers that they are about to read an opposite view or line of thought. The most common turn signals are "but," "yet," "otherwise," "although," "on the other hand," "however," "in spite of" and "despite."
- STOP signals - These signals tell the readers that the next idea is very important and that the writer is stating the idea with authority. Some stop signals are "significantly," "without doubt," "unquestionably," "absolutely" and "undeniably."
- RELATIONSHIP signals - These connectives point to relationships of time ("while" and "finally"), space ("here," "where," "there" and "beside"), degree ("above all," "more" and "less"), cause and effect ("because" and "since") and condition ("if," "unless" and "though").
Writing Activity #1
Ten signal words in the passage below are missing. Analyze the relationship between the various ideas. Supply the proper connectives so the meaning will be clear and easy to grasp. Choose from the list of connectives below:
and, for one thing, where, finally, for another, on the other hand, in contrast, otherwise, however, but
Writing Activity #2
Mortimer Adler, a noted philosopher and educator, differentiates religion from science. Citing three points of differences, he says that, (1)__________, religion deals with the relationship between man and God. Science, (2)___________, deals with the relationship between man and the world (3)_________ he lives.
(4)___________, religion gives life its basic meaning and worth;(5)_____________, science accounts for the structure and behavior of things - how they come to be what they are (6)_____ how we can make use of them for good or ill.
(7)__________, religion provides the medium through which men can seek God's help; (8)______________, he cannot follow God's Commandments. (9)__________, science teaches us to produce a wide variety of things, from baby foods to hydrogen bombs,(10)_______ it does not tell us the whys and wherefores of things, nor does it prevent us from misusing the power it gives us.
Below are topic ideas you can write about. Choose one and write a 500-word article or essay making use of connectives.
- How to find information on the Web
- Big Bang theory vs The Genesis
- Comparison/differentiation of 60s, 70s, and 80s music
- Car models
- Writing for newspapers vs writing for magazines
- The teachers you had in gradeschool/high school
- Two brands of computers
- Two or more types of decorative plants
- Books dealing with the same topic/subject
- Authors writing on the same genre