DISCOURSE MARKERS in ENGLISH SENTENCES
DISCOURSE MARKERS are used to combine clauses or to connect sentence elements. Each discourse marker indicates a particular meaning relationship between two or more clauses.
Four types of DISCOURSE MARKERS are used in combining English sentences:
1. COORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS (see I. below),
2. CONNECTORS (adverbials, conjunctive adverbs; see II. below),
3. SUBORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS (see III. a + b below),
4. PHRASE LINKERS (prepositions; or ADJ + PREP; see IV. below).
Sentences consist of COMPOUND and COMPLEX sentences:
Prepositions or Adjective + Preposition combinations introduce PHRASES (see IV. below)
(coordconj.): informally known as the FANBOYS or BOYFANS
A = and
N = nor
B = but
O = or
Y = yet
S = so
CONCESSION; unexpected result
Coordinating conjunctions are discourse markers that join two INDEPENDENT clauses, which are set off by a comma.
independent clause 1 , coordconj independent clause 2 .
S + V S + V
EX.: We arrived late, so we waited in the hall.
II. CONNECTORS (Adverbials, conjunctive adverbs)
Connectors are discourse markers that also join two INDEPENDENT clauses, but with a semicolon (;) or a period (.). They can occur in three positions in a sentence: initial (beginning) position, medial (middle) position, and final (end) position. Good writers/speakers use the position of discourse markers to give particular emphasis to the element that immediately precedes the connector. They also make sure that they vary the position of the discourse markers to avoid monotony. The punctuation is different, depending on the position of the connector.
A. INITIAL (BEGINNING) POSITION: The connector is positioned at the beginning of the second clause.
independent clause 1 ; connector, independent clause 2 .
S + V S + V
independent clause 1 . Connector, independent clause 2 .
S + V S + V
EX.: We were late for the lecture; therefore, we waited in the hall.
We were late for the lecture. Therefore, we waited in the hall.
B. MEDIAL (MIDDLE) POSITION:
The connector is positioned in the
middle of the second clause, usually between subject and verb. In this
case, the subject is emphasized and contrasted.
independent clause 1 ; S , connector, V + C .
EX.: George and Harry are best friends. George spends his free time reading twentieth century American short stories; Harry, on the other hand, is more interested in sports and physical exercise.
C. FINAL (END) POSITION: The connector is positioned at the end of the second clause.
independent clause 1 ; S + V + C , connector.
EX.: George spends his free time reading twentieth century American short stories; Harry is more interested in sports and physical exercise, on the other hand.
MEANING RELATIONSHIPS expressed by connectors:
1. RESULT / REASON 2. CONTRAST 3. ADDITION 4. EMPHASIS ______; therefore, ____ ______; however, ______ ______; in addition, ______ ______; in fact, _______ ; thus, ; in contrast, ; furthermore, ; as a matter of fact, ; consequently, ; on the other hand, ; moreover, ; indeed, ; as a result, ; instead, ; besides, ; hence, ; rather, ; additionally, REASON: _____; for this reason, ________
6. TIME 7. SIMILARITY 8. NEGATIVE CONDITION ______; however, _____ _______ . First, _______ ______; similarly, ______ ______; otherwise, _____ ; nevertheless, . Second, ______; likewise, ______ ; nonetheless, . Afterward, ; still, . After that, . Later, . Then / Next,
9. NEGATIVE EMPHASIS 10. MAIN IDEA 11. EXAMPLE 12. RESTATEMENT 13. CONCLUSION ____; on the contrary, ____ On the whole, For example, ____; in other words, _______ In conclusion, In general, For instance, ; that means (that) To conclude, Generally, To illustrate, In summary, Generally speaking, To summarize, As we have seen, In short,
III. SUBORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS (SUB)
Subordinating conjunctions are discourse markers that join a dependent (subordinate) clause to an independent (main) clause. There are two patterns (a. and b.) for positioning the dependent clause and therefore two patterns of punctuation.
independent clause SUB
dependent clause .
S + V S + V
b. SUB + dependent clause ,
independent clause .
SUB + S + V , S + V
EX.: a. We waited in the hall because we arrived late for the lecture.
b. Because we arrived late for the lecture, we waited in the hall.
NOTE: With because it is recommended to identify the REASON and the RESULT first in order to avoid a mix-up (incorrect meaning relationship):
a. RESULT because + REASON .
b. Because + REASON , RESULT .
Again, the SUBORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS are used to signal different MEANING RELATIONSHIPS.
1. REASON/CAUSE 2. CONTRAST 3. CONCESSION (unexpected result) 4. TIME 5. PURPOSE because , while although after so that since , whereas even though before as (usually used with a comma in front in Pattern a.) even if when due to the fact that despite the fact that while now that (though) since in spite of the fact that as CAUSE/EFFECT (often used with a comma in front in Pattern a.) as soon as so...that until such...that by the time that such a...that whenever the next time
6. CONDITION/RESULT 7. SIMILARITY 8. DESCRIPTION/ IDENTIFICATION
9. EMBEDDED STATEMENTS/QUESTIONS If..., (then) just as who that whether (or not) whom what when whose how (much/many, often, long) In case that which who(m), which, whose Provided that that when Unless when where where whether (or not), if
IV. PHRASE LINKERS (prepositions or ADJ + PREP combinations)
Phrase linkers are transitions that are often used at the beginning of a sentence.
_____________________ . PHRASE LINKER (NP) , S + V + C .
(item #1) (item #2)
1. CONTRAST 2.REASON 3. ADDITION In contrast to _____, _____ Because of _____, _____ In addition to _____, _____ different from due to unlike as a result of
4. SIMILARITY 5. CONCESSION
6. TIME Similar to _____, _____ Despite _____, _____ Before / after _____, _____ like in spite of until since during
EX.: Due to our late arrival at the lecture, we had to wait in the hall.
In contrast to western societies, eastern societies stress the importance of community.
(item #1) (item #2)
Before the work of Sigmund Freud, psychology was not considered an academic subject.
Practice using discourse
Grammar Check -- Transitions (multiple choice), Connectors in Context (fill-in the blank)
Problems that occur with sentence combination: Comma splices, run-on sentences, and fragments. Click the link for explanations, exercises, and self-study quizzes. More practice from Grammar-Quizzes.com: Fragments--Recognizing Complete vs. Incomplete Sentences, Identifying a Dependent Clause, and Edit the Sentences.
© 2005 Christine Bauer-Ramazani, Saint Michael's College. Last updated: January 4, 2013