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Link Words

An approximate guide to their meaning and use

GENERAL MEANING
CONJUNCTIONS
ADVERBIAL CONNECTORS
PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES
COORDINATING
SUBORDINATING
NEUTRAL
FORMAL
NEUTRAL
FORMAL
NEUTRAL
FORMAL
NEUTRAL
FORMAL
ADDITION and      

in addition
also
... too
Besides

Moreover
Furthermore
Also
   
ALTERNATIVES or nor
(or) else
either ... or
neither ... nor
  if
whether
  ... as well
Alternatively
     
CONTRAST Surprising facts

but
not only ...
but also

yet    

Yet
Still
Even so
all the same

However
Nevertheless
   
Opposite facts     while whereas

On the other hand
On the contrary

In contrast in spite of despite
CONCESSION   Yet, Though
Even though
Even if
Although though
even
so
     
RESULTS  

so
such a ... that

  (and) so
As a result
Therefore
Consequently
Thus
Accordingly
   
REASON
Cause and effect
    Because
As
since
for
    Because of
Thanks to (positive)
Due to
Owing to
On account of
PURPOSE     so that
so as to
in order that
in order to
for fear that        
CONDITION    

If
unless
so/as long as
Provided that
seeing that

on condition that
given that
       
SAME TIME   when(ever)
while
now (that)
    Meanwhile      
EARLIER TIME     Before
until
         
LATER TIME     after
since
  Soon
Then
After(wards)
     
JUST AFTER     once
immediately that
as soon as
whereupon        
The best way to really understand the meaning of these words is to read a lot and develop a feeling for how they are used in newspaper and academic articles. You could also consult one of these concordancers which will give you many real life examples of each as used in contemporary English.
Concordancer based on Voice of America's special English
Complete sentences given. The examples are easier than those of the other concordancers.
British National Corpus Concordancer
Based on several large corpora of modern spoken and written British English. It shows complete sentences.
Collins Cobuild Concordancer
This includes American English corpora but does not show complete sentences.
Newsroom exercises These grammar & usage exercises (not only or even mainly concerning link words) intended to assist American journalists could also help you to improve your written English. I think you'll enjoy the humour of the feedback comments!

Glenys Hanson,
Centre de linguistique appliquée,
Université de Franche-Comté