TOEFL Connecting Words

Understanding TOEFL connecting words can have a positive impact on your being able to score high on the TOEFL iBT. In addition, being able to use them can make it much easier for others to understand what you speak or write.

TOEFL connecting words
TOEFL connecting words

TOEFL Connecting Words: What are they?

TOEFL connecting words can be grouped into several categories: prepositions (i.e., due to), coordinators (i.e., so), subordinators (i.e., because) and transition words (i.e., therefore).

Prepositions introduce noun phrases. Together they form prepositional phrases.  These prepositional phrases, or support ideas, connect ideas within the same sentence: Due to the rain,  game officials cancelled the soccer game. Google “extensive list of prepositions in English Grammar” to learn more about these important TOEFL connecting words.

Coordinators connect independent clauses, or main ideas, together.  These TOEFL connecting words create compound sentences: It rained, so officials cancelled the soccer game. Google “list of coordinating conjunctions in English grammar” to learn more about how these important TOEFL connecting words work.

Subordinating conjunctions link dependent clauses (i.e., adjective, noun, and adverb clauses), or support ideas, to independent clauses. These dependent clauses + independent clauses from complex sentences:  Because it rained, officials cancelled the soccer gameThey are several key words that you will need to Google if you need more practice with these TOEFL connecting words:

  • Adjective clauses connectors in English grammar
  • Noun clauses connectors in English grammar
  • Adverb clauses connectors in English grammar
  • Forming complex sentences in English grammar

Unlike prepositions, coordinators, and subordinators, transition words connect ideas in separate sentences or even separate paragraphs together:  It rained non-stop for several hours; therefore, officials cancelled the soccer game.  Google “An extensive list of transition words for academic writing” to study more about these important TOEFFL connecting words.

TOEFL Connecting Words: How do they help me during the listening and reading sections?

During TOEFL reading and listening passages, authors and speakers will use TOEFL connecting words for a variety of purposes:  to introduce a list of important ideas (i.e., first of all), to emphasize important points (i.e., indeed), to show cause-effect (i.e., inasmuch as), to indicate a time sequence (i.e., when), and so on. Paying attention and understanding the causal relationships of TOEFL connecting words will help you to connect the important parts of the passages more effectively. Therefore, you will be able to improve your reading and listening comprehension. Of course, that means you will improve your reading and listening subtotal scores.

To help you improve, type in the following key words in Google:

Transitions and other types of TOEFL connecting words for reading

Connectors and transition words for TOEFL listening passages

TOEFL Connecting Words: How do I use them during the speaking tasks?

TOEFL connecting words can be used to introduce important information at the beginning of an independent speaking task. In addition, these words can be used to connect different parts of the speech together or to indicate what will follow in the response.  Using a variety of TOEFL connecting words in your response will make it easier for others to understand your ideas. It will also show that you a wide range of vocabulary. To illustrate, pay attention to the following speaking response. It uses a variety of transition words to connect the different parts of the response together.

Speaking prompt:  “It is always better to plan in advance rather than live one day at a time.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement.

Listening script:

I have always preferred planning in advance since it helps to prepare for unforeseen problems.

To illustrate, my wife and I have been putting away about 10% of our income every month.  Therefore, over a period of about two years, we have able to save about $7,856 just in case we have a financial emergency.

If fact, just last month, my wife’s car broke down on the freeway.  We had the vehicle towed back to our city, and the mechanic diagnosed the problem as a faulty transmission.  Unfortunately, the cost of replacing the transmission was almost $3,000. However, we could not afford the cost of buying a new car,  so we repaired the car.

If we had not prepared in advance by putting some savings away monthly, we would not have had the money to repair the vehicle.

Therefore, I strongly agree that it is important to plan in advance.

As you can see in this response, the speaker uses eight TOEFL connecting words to show the relationship of the ideas in the response.  Notice also how the speaker does NOT use a template for this response.  As a result, the response sounds natural, not contrived. Do NOT use templates on the speaking or writing section of the exam.

TOEFL Connecting Words: How do I use them during the writing tasks?

Similarly, you should use TOEFL connecting words during the writing section.  As a result, your writing will seem coherent, or organized.   Case in point, take a look at the following independent writing response. Pay attention to the TOEFL connecting words in each of the body paragraphs. These TOEFL connecting words make the essay much more connected.

Writing prompt: Some prefer to have a large university in their hometown, whereas others want this large institution elsewhere. Discuss the both points of view. Then  indicate your own personal preference.

People want their cities to be attractive to them and to visitors. Moreover, residents of their communities want their towns to thrive economically so that its residents can have a high standard of living.  Of course, these city dwellers want the best possible education for their children as they attend elementary, middle, and high school. Furthermore, all over the world, city officials build two-year and four-year colleges and universities in cities.   Some residents like having these educational facilities in their hometowns. In contrast, others would rather have these large schools built elsewhere. Personally, having a large university would help my city to thrive economically.

First of all, some people prefer to have a large university in their hometown because it will help the whole town to improve its education. For example, California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) boasts an enrollment of more than 25,000 students. Ever since its completion, the school has coordinated with the elementary and high school populations to help prepare these youngsters for college. Case in point, CSUSB invites elementary school children from San Bernardino on field trips almost every day of the school year. During these field trips, professors from the colleges at CSUSB explain the value of getting a college education. If this large university had not been built in the city of San Bernardino, these young children would have missed out on golden motivational opportunities.

Second of all, however, others oppose the construction of a large school in their city.  These opponents believe that with the large school comes a lot more traffic for their hometown. For instance, my brother lives in Statesboro, Georgia which has a population of about 12,000 residents. Years ago, state officials decided to build Georgia Southern University (GSU) in Statesboro. The university has a student body enrollment of 15,000. Therefore, every time the university is in session, it more than doubles the population of Statesboro.  My brother complains that, because of all the university students driving around the city, it takes him twice as long to drive to work. In addition, some of these university students  use their cell phones while driving and they cause accidents in the city.  Consequently, due to the extra traffic and the car accidents, my brother wishes that the university had been built somewhere else.

Third of all, even though there are some disadvantages to building a university in my hometown, the economic benefits outweigh any drawbacks.  For example, the California State University, San  Diego (CSUSD) was built  more than 30 years ago.  Since then, the university employs more than 7,800 faculty and staff to instruct and offer services to more than 35,000 students.  The faculty, staff, and the student body live in San Diego.  They buy food, clothes, and other goods in San Diego. Some city officials estimate that CSUSD contributes more than 1 billion dollars to their local economy annually. If a large university were built in my city, we could reap similar monetary benefits.  Therefore, I would definitely be happy to have a large university built in my hometown.

TOEFL Connecting Words: Analysis of model essay

In the essay, the writer uses 28 TOEFL connecting words in different parts of the essay in order show the relationship among the ideas.  In addition, to further connect ideas notice the following characteristics:

  • Paragraph two uses only one example to support the topic of how universities can help a town to improve its education (i.e., advantage). The author spends about 100 words to show how CSUSB has helped San Benardino children develop a desire to attend college.
  • Paragraph three focuses on how large universities can bring traffic and accidents to a city (i.e., disadvantage).  To support this topic, the author spend another 100 words explaining how GSU increases traffic and accidents in Statesboro.
  • In the final paragraph, the author gives her personal opinion on how a large university can benefit a town economically.   To illustrate this idea, the writer spends about 100 words showing how CSUSD have brought economic beneifts to San Diego.

TOEFL Connecting Words: How do I know I am using these types of words correctly in my speaking and writing practice?

I have a Speaking and Writing Boot Camp course if you want to send me your speaking and writing practice for evaluation.  In fact, once you join one of my courses, you can send me up to ONE speaking and ONE writing practice test every 24 hours. I will let you know if you are organizing and developing your ideas effectively.  Using the iBT TOEFL speaking and writing rubrics, I will score each practice test from 0-30 points so you can monitor your progress as you complete your TOEFL lessons.  Click on the following link to the course outlines for my speaking and writing courses:

TOEFL Speaking Boot Camp Course:

TOEFL Writing Boot Camp Course:

Good luck!

Michael Buckhoff,

1 thought on “TOEFL Connecting Words”

  1. Pingback: Avoid TOEFL Templates - Better TOEFL Scores Blog

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