Business Writing

Discourse Markers

20. 6. 2016

B1- B1 B2 C1

In this post, I’m starting with some jargon. Discourse marker is a term used in linguistics. ESL teachers use it regularly when teaching students to write. So what is a discourse marker? In his book Practical English Usage, Michael Swan says they are words or phrases that can be used to:

  • Show the connection between what a speaker is saying and what has already been said or what is going to be said
  • Help make the structure of what is being said clear
  • Indicate what speakers think about what they are saying or what others have said.

They show the connection between what is being said and the wider context and we use them to make our text stick together, to make it ‘cohesive’.

Discourse markers are used in speaking and in writing. Some of the informal discourse markers are often used in informal emails.


Focusing and Linking

(these can introduce a new topic, or announce a change of subject)

To Introduce the Most Important or Fundamental Point Emphasise a Contrast
With reference to

Talking/speaking of/about

Regarding

As regards

As far as … is concerned

As for

Basically However

Nevertheless (more formal)

Mind you (informal – spoken)

Still

Yet

In spite of this

Balancing Contrasting Thoughts To Introduce a Fact that Is Very Clear to See or Understand (spoken) To Say that You Are Taking Everything Into Consideration
While

On the other hand

Whereas

Obviously

Clearly

 

All in all
Similarity Concession Counter-Argument
Similarly

In the same way

It is true

Of course

Certainly

 

However

Even so

But

Nevertheless

Nonetheless

All the same

Still

 

Contradicting Dismissal of Previous Discourse—to Introduce a Positive Point After Some Negative Information Change of Subject (usually used in conversation, and sometimes in informal emails)
On the contrary Anyway

Anyhow

At any rate

At least

(For example: It was a bad accident, but at least no one was killed.)

By the way

Incidentally

Right

All right

Now

Okay

Talking of …

Return to Previous Subject (spoken) To Add Additional Information or Arguments Generalising
As I was saying Moreover

Furthermore

In addition

As well as that

On top of that (spoken)

Another thing is (spoken)

What is more

Besides (spoken)

In any case

 

On the whole

In general

In all/most/many/some cases

Broadly speaking

By and large

To a greater extent

To some extent

Apart from …

Except for …

Giving Examples Logical Consequence Making Things Clear; Giving Details; to Say Something in Another Way
For instance

For example

In particular

Therefore

As a result

Consequently

So

Then

 

I mean (spoken)

Actually (spoken)

That is to say

In other words

 

Softening and Correcting (spoken) Gaining Time (spoken) Showing One’s Attitude to What One is Saying (spoken)
I think

I feel

I reckon

I guess

In my view/opinion

Apparently

So to speak

More or less

Sort of

Kind of

Well

Really

That is to say

At least

I’m afraid

I suppose

Rather

Actually

I mean

Let me see

Let’s see

Well

You know

I don’t know

I mean

Kind of

Sort of

 

Honestly

Frankly

No doubt

Persuading (Spoken) To Say what the result would be if the situation were different Referring to Others’ Expectations (Usually spoken)
After all

Look

Look here

No doubt

Otherwise Actually

In fact

As a matter of fact

To tell the truth

Well

 

Summing up Introduce Additional Surprising/Unexpected Information (spoken) Structuring
In conclusion

To sum up

Briefly

In short

 

Actually

In fact

As a matter of fact

First(ly)

First of all

Lastly

Finally

To begin with

To start with

For one thing

For another thing

Sources:

Swan, M (1996), Practical English Usage, Oxford University Press

Seely, J (2007), Oxford A – Z of Grammar & Punctuation, Oxford University Press

Oxenden, C and Latham-Koenig, C, (2010), New English File – Advanced Student’s Book, Oxford University Press

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