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Linking Words: understanding the relationship between parts of a sentence

One of the most important concepts in the vocab section of standardized tests are linking words.

A linking word shows the relationship between two different parts of a sentence. By understanding the way linking words work, you can get a sense of what the missing word is supposed to indicate.

The most common linking words are those that demonstrate either contradiction or agreement. Here are some examples:

Linking Words:







contrary to

even though




in addition/ additionally





Let's look at some test questions:

Questions 1:

1. Although it does contain some pioneering ideas, one would hardly characterize the work as __________.

  1. orthodox

  2. eccentric

  3. original

  4. trifling

  5. conventional

  6. innovative

The connection word here is 'although.' The word 'although' indicates contradiction; the first part of the sentence must contradict the other.

The work has 'pioneering' (fresh or innovative) ideas, but the work itself is not pioneering.

Answers: original and innovative

Question 2:

2.The corporation expects only _______ increases in sales next year despite a yearlong effort to revive its retailing business.

  1. dynamic

  2. predictable

  3. expanding

  4. modest

  5. slight

  6. volatile

The linking word here is 'despite', which indicates contradiction. The second part of the sentence states that the corporation has been working hard to revive business. What the 'despite' tells us is that this effort isn't working: business is not reviving.

Therefore, we're looking for words that negligible or minimal increases in sale. The fitting words are 'modest' and 'slight.'

From now on, when you solve tests, keep an eye out for linking words. You'll see how your understanding and intuition of the sentence grow stronger!

Good luck and happy learning!


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