An ELT Glossary : Connectives

A connective is any word which indicates the semantic relationships between items in the discourse. Some examples of semantic relationships and the connectives that may indicate them are :

  • Concession (the second element is surprising in view of the first):  Although John's always late and spends half the day playing computer games, they've decided to promote him. Examples of concession connectives include:  but, although, however
  • Addition  (the second element is the same in some way as the previous one(s).  In the example below the meaning structure is problem + problem + problem:  The chassis was rusted, and a brief inspection of the engine showed that the vehicle was clearly not roadworthy. Moreover, no road tax had been paid for three years. Examples of addition connectives include :  and, in addition, moreover 
  • Consequence (the following element is the result of the previous one) : The train was an hour late leaving, so that we missed our connection in Birmingham. As a result, we didn't get to the hotel until 11pm. Examples of connectives expressing consequence include : so, so that, consequently, as a result, therefore
  • etc. Other relationships indicated by connectives include sequence, cause, exemplification, summary, reformulation, and contrast.

As these examples show, connective expressions may come from a range of word classes,  eg here there are conjunctions (but, although, and, so that), and  adverbials  (however, in addition, moreover, as a result). In addition,  prepositions may also be connectives, eg: We went out in spite of the rain; We didn't go because of the transport strike.

Want to know more?

Leech et al, An A-Z of English Grammar and Usage, Pearson Education Ltd.

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