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I have a question on linkers and connectors. I'm from Spain, so I learnt English at school and all my English teachers have told me throughout secondary school that we always have to use linkers to connect the ideas in our writings. However, do I have to use them all the time? I mean, what if I want to write something like this:

We -the association of internet users- believe in a world where data can be accessible to everyone for free. We believe in a world where there are no boundaries between people. A world where there is equality of the access to information.

This way, I can kind of emphasise the three sentences by repeating the words "we believe in a world" or simply "a world". Whereas, I'd used connectors in this case, the message wouldn't have been the same:

We -the association of internet users- believe in a world where data can be accessible to everyone for free. What is more, we believe in a world where there are no boundaries between people. In fact, a world where there is equality of the access to information.

You see what I mean? What are your thoughts on that?

  • Try using connecting phrases to introduce new paragraphs only, since a transition from one paragraph to another usually signals a change in focus. – Steven Littman Nov 10 '17 at 11:54
  • You can use them occasionally, but if you do it in every sentence it sounds wordy, like you're trying to meet a required word count and throwing in extra phrases. – Barmar Nov 10 '17 at 20:00
  • the most noticeable part of either example is just that equality regarding the access to information is clumsy and fairly obvious non-native. It be better as equality of access to information. Otherwise Steven and Barmar are right and all else is a question of opinion. – Robbie Goodwin Nov 20 '17 at 19:58
  • This question is about writing style, not the nuts and bolts of the English language. It falls into "General copywriting, style, and organization" which is on-topic on Writers. – Andrew Leach Nov 21 '17 at 8:29
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Connectors, transitional phrases, or whatever you want to call them serve stylistic and functional purposes. They are stylistic in that they depend on and contribute to the type of work you are trying to produce.

I can't list through examples of specific types of text in which transitional phrases may or may not be more often or less often useful, since the array is too vast. If you want to be on the safe side, add a connector, but, to my second point, make sure it flows.

Transitional phrases serve the function of making a text flow better. Generally, we are interested to know how the next sentence relates to the previous one. Thus, we use a phrase that lets us know if what will come next is a result (consequently, thus, therefore, as a result), the cause (this is the case because, this is caused by), concurrent (meanwhile, simultaneously), etc.

When you wrote in your second quote, "what is more" between your first and second sentences, that let me know that the idea is the second sentence is greater, encompasses, or complements the idea in the first. However, at the start of sentence three, you wrote "in fact." This phrase did not serve a functional purpose and, in fact, confused me because it was not used to intensify an opinion, as I did in this sentence.

In your first example, the third sentence is not a complete sentence. Aside from that, you could have conceivably formed a nice-sounding paragraph without connectors. Though I would recommend using commas between we and believe, because dashes are often used to convey pauses that commas wouldn't be suitable for. Yes I ended my sentence with a preposition and I won't apologize.

All that being said, if you are writing for an English teacher or professor, ask their preferences. If you are writing for work, take more liberties. Teachers and professors often have preferences and it's best to follow them (even if they're wrong, unfortunately).

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Use transitional phrases when you need to clarify or highlight a connection. Especially in technical writing (where concise is better), don't use them just to use them.

In your example, the second and third statements follow logically from the first -- you believe that data should be accessible, which means there are no boundaries and there is equal access. No extra connectors are needed to make that point. On the other hand (<- connector), if you were to follow a statement with something that doesn't follow logically or even contradicts the first point, using a connector can help make the transition clearer.

Your final sentence (with the "in fact" connector) could go either way. I said it follows logically from your first sentence, but maybe you want to emphasize that you don't just mean accessible to all but equally accessible to all -- maybe you're making the point that some people having FiOS at home and others having to go to a public library to use a slow modem doesn't count. If that's the argument you're making, then using a connector can draw that out. In your specific case I might suggest "not only that, but" as being stronger than "in fact".

Finally, even if statements don't follow logically (you could make the argument for that in your example), if they are closely related, as yours are, you don't need to use connectors. If what you're writing is a persuasive essay, consider the cadence -- there's more "punch" in just making your points. (There's a term in rhetoric for this, but I've forgotten it.)

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