IELTS Grammar: Conjunctions in writing

ielts word countUsing conjunctions in IELTS writing.

Updated April 7th 2022

For a high band score in IELTS writing, it is important to use conjunctions effectively. This shows the examiner you can use grammar precisely and helps the flow of your essay, which makes it easier for the reader. A conjunction is a word used to connect clauses or sentences. These are marked under grammar and are directly linked to coherence and cohesion in the IELTS marking criteria.

If you make mistakes with conjunctions it will affect coherence and cohesion. In fact ‘complex sentences’ can be constructed using conjunctions. Let’s take a look at some of these and how to use them correctly.


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Below are some example sentences.

1. though, although, even though, nonetheless

‘Being a parent is often exhausting and stressful, but it is very rewarding.’

Now I can rewrite this sentence in 4 different ways and keep the same meaning.

1. Although being a parent is exhausting and stressful, it is very rewarding.
2. It is very rewarding being a parent. Nonetheless, it is also exhausting and stressful.
3. Being a parent is exhausting and stressful, although it is very rewarding.
4. Even though being a parent is exhausting and stressful, it is very rewarding.

Though, although and even though have the same meaning. Usually ‘though’ is at the end of the sentence.

Punctuation is important here, check the position of the commas in the sentences. ‘Nonetheless’ usually starts a sentence and there is a comma straight after it.


2. in spite of, despite, although

‘Studying overseas is expensive, but it is important for our career.’

1. Although studying overseas is expensive, it is important for our career.
2. In spite of the cost, studying overseas is important for our career.
3. Despite the cost, studying overseas is important for our career.

All the sentences above have the same meaning, after ‘in spite of ‘or ‘despite’ we need to use a noun or a pronoun. So I changed the word ‘expensive’ to ‘the cost’,  also notice the position of the comma. Punctuation is a key point here too.


3. unless, providing, as long as

‘The government should take steps to tackle pollution or the environment will not be able to recover’

1. Unless the government takes steps to stop pollution, the environment will not be able to recover.
2. Providing that the government takes steps to stop pollution, the environment will recover.
3. As long as the government takes steps to stop pollution, the environment will recover.
4. The environment will recover, as long as the government takes steps to stop pollution.

In the first example using ‘unless’  the second part of the sentence is negative. Unless is quite often used to give a warning. Usually unless is used to mean ‘except if’ ..for example: ‘You can’t use this gym unless you have membership.’

Again, punctuation is important and the position of the commas.


4. while, whereas, on the other hand

(very useful in an overview in IELTS writing task 1)

The number of people who ate fast food once a month accounted for the highest percentage. The everyday category showed the lowest figures

1. The number of people who ate fast food once a month accounted for the highest percentage, whereas the everyday category showed the lowest figures
2. The number of people who ate fast food once a month accounted for the highest percentage. On the other hand, the everyday category showed the lowest figures
3. The number of people who ate fast food once a month accounted for the highest percentage, while the everyday category showed the lowest figures

This sentence was taken from a task 1 academic bar chart to show contrast. These conjunctions are important to use in the overview in task 1 to compare high and low figures. Notice that I use a comma with ‘whereas’ and ‘while’


Using conjunctions for opinions and conclusions

When writing your essay, it is a very good idea to contrast your own opinion with a conjunction. These examples below are taken from various essays such as crime, health, and technology.

  • Even though long prison terms are considered the best way to tackle crime, I think that there are other alternatives to bringing the crime rate down.
  • Many people would say that obesity is caused by fast food. However, I believe that it is caused mainly by lack of exercise.
  • Recently there is a concern that robots will take people’s jobs. In my opinion, as long as people update their skills, such as learning something that can only be done by humans, then this should not be a major cause for concern

Conjunctions in the conclusion

Here are 2 examples of conclusions that have the same meaning taken from a technology essay.

  • To conclude, even though there are concerns that people will lose jobs in the future to robots, I hold the view that as long as people can update their skills and offer a service that robots cannot do, then there should not be a cause for concern.

 

  • To sum up, despite concerns that people will lose their jobs in the future to robots, I believe that as long as people can update their skills and offer a service that robots cannot do, then there should not be a cause for concern.

Now it’s your turn to practice.

Can you add some conjunctions to these sentences? the words you need are in the brackets. You may need to add words and make changes to the sentence structure too.

a) Studying IELTS can be stressful but it opens up career opportunities worldwide. (Even though)

b) I occasionally go to the movies but I prefer to download movies from the internet.  (although)

c) My city is really overcrowded and expensive to live in but it has some great restaurants and bars. (Nonetheless)

d) Pollution in developing countries is a serious issue. If action is taken to sort the problem out then this can be solved. (Providing)

e) Pollution in big cities is a serious issue these days. If the problem is not tackled soon it will get out of control. (unless)

f) Obesity is a growing issue in developed countries but there is also a growing awareness of healthy eating. (despite)

g) Overall, Bobs Bakery saw upward trends in yearly income earned. Johns Bakery, which had started with the highest revenue, ended with the lowest earnings by the end of the period. (whereas)

 

a) Even though studying IELTS can be stressful, it opens up career opportunities worldwide.

b) I occasionally go to the movies; although I prefer to download movies from the internet.

c) My city is really overcrowded and expensive to live in. Nonetheless, it has some great restaurants and bars.

d) Pollution in developing countries is a serious issue. Providing action is taken to tackle the problem, then this can be solved.

e) Pollution in big cities is a serious issue these days. Unless the problem is tackled soon, it will get out of control.

f) Obesity is a growing issue in developed countries. Despite this, there is also a growing awareness of healthy eating.

g) Overall, Bobs Bakery saw upward trends in yearly income earned, whereas Johns Bakery, which had started with the highest revenue, ended with the lowest earnings by the end of the period.

In example c the word Nonetheless starts a new sentence.
In example f  I added this to despite.
In example g I used whereas in a writing task 1 overview to show contrast

 

Conclusions practice:  fill in the gaps with conjunctions you have learned in this lesson and then finish the conclusion with your own opinion.

a) In conclusion, ____________ many people say that living in the countryside is boring, my view is that…….

b) To sum up, it is clear that longer prison sentences are appropriate for serious criminals. ___________ I believe that…

c) To conclude, ________ the downsides to using the internet to communicate and develop relationships, I think that….

These are just possible answers, your answer may vary.

a) In conclusion, even though many people say that living in the countryside is boring, my view is that it is far less stressful than living in a big city.

b) To sum up, it is obvious that longer prison sentences are appropriate for serious criminals. Nonetheless, I believe that there are other alternatives to bringing the crime rate down.

c) To conclude, despite the downsides of using the internet to communicate and develop relationships, I think that the chance to interact with others worldwide can lead to positive outcomes for most people.

In each case, I have used a conjunction and then given my opinion.


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