Discourse Markers in Speaking – the IELTS Guide For You

The most important part of effective communication is that the listener should be able to understand what you are talking about. If you use coherent containing natural pauses and fillers while speaking, it will help present your thoughts and ideas easily. In the IELTS test, speaking in a fluent and coherent manner is the best way to communicate your ideas. Therefore, the IELTS trainers recommend the use of discourse markers in speaking.

In this post we have covered relevant information about Discourse Markers, using Discourse Markers in a relevant manner, tips, and examples. We have also explained how using discourse markers in Speaking IELTS test can help you in presenting your thoughts and messages clearly.

Importance of Discourse Markers in IELTS Speaking 

Discourse markers are crucial in IELTS speaking as they help students organize their ideas, connect their thoughts, and convey their message clearly to the examiner. Using appropriate discourse markers can also enhance the overall coherence and fluency of the speech, which are key factors in determining the IELTS speaking score. Therefore, learning the use of discourse markers can significantly improve a student’s performance in the IELTS speaking test.

The Types of Discourse Markers in IELTS Speaking
Adversative discourse markers
Causal discourse markers
Additive discourse markers
Reformulative discourse markers
Concessive discourse markers
Sequential discourse markers
Exemplifying discourse markers
About Discourse Markers and Examples of Discourse Markers 

Discourse markers are helpful in organizing and managing what we say using words and phrases that connects ideas. These words help express how we feel about what we say and also help to think about what to say next using fillers correctly to make our communication more natural.

Some of the discourse markers are highlighted in the following sentences:

The food I ate at the lunch probably gave me food poisoning, so, unfortunately, I’ve been up all night.
The first thing I am going to do is show you the damaged screen, then I’m going to show you how can I fix it and finally, I’m going to teach you how accurately you can fix it.

In the first sentence, uncertainty and sadness are expressed using hedging language in the kind of adverbs. Here the word ‘Probably’ is used as it is not clear what made them sick and the word ‘unfortunately’ is used to show their attitude and feelings about what has happened.

Discourse markers are helpful in expressing the functions of speech and thus help to organize what is said, make sure to use discourse markers in speaking. However, the candidates must learn how to use discourse markers in the right manner and not overuse them.

Connectives are those words or phrases which connect and relate sentences and paragraphs. These words help build the logical flow of ideas as they establish the relationship between sentences and paragraphs. Some of the commonly used connectives include and, also, besides, furthermore, like, in the same way, however, actually, but, in contrast, conversely, in fact, first, second, finally, next, then, as a result, so, accordingly, consequently, etc.

These words and expressions play an important role in developing, relating, connecting, and moving ideas.

The table mentioned below has a list of a few of the most frequently used connectives:

Addition and, too, also, besides, furthermore, moreover, then, another, equally important,
Comparison like, in the same manner (way), as so, similarly
Contrast but, nevertheless, yet, in contrast, conversely, however, still, on the contrary, on the other hand, or, in spite of this, actually, in fact
Order or sequence first, second, (etc.), finally, after, before, as soon as, in the end, gradually , next, then, to begin with
Results as a result, thus, since, so, accordingly, consequently, therefore, because of this, for this reason, 
Purpose for this purpose, with this in mind, for this reason
To signal an example or emphasize for example, to be specific, to illustrate, for instance, such as, especially
To summarize/ conclude in summary, in short, finally, to sum up, to repeat, briefly, therefore, as I have said, on the whole, in conclusion, as you can see

Expert Tips for Students Related to Use of Discourse Markers in IELTS Speaking

Preparing Discourse Markers in IELTS Speaking can be a difficult task for many of the students or applicants. Unlike other question types and sections, it also requires you to devote your time, read about it, and refer to different study materials along with browsing the varied online sources. Consider some tips from experts that may make your journey to a higher Band easy.  

The below discussed ten Discourse Markers preparation tips might ease your task:  

Start with the basics: Before you begin using complex discourse markers, start with basic ones like “well,” “so,” and “actually.” These markers are easy to use and can help you to connect your thoughts in a simple and effective way.
Be natural: Avoid memorizing a long list of discourse markers and using them unnaturally. Instead, use discourse markers that you would naturally use in a conversation. This will make your speech more fluid and natural.
Practice: Practice using discourse markers in your daily conversation with friends or family. This will help you to use them more confidently in the IELTS speaking test. 
Understand the meaning: Make sure you understand the meaning of each discourse marker you use. Using them incorrectly or in the wrong context can negatively impact your score.
Use discourse markers to organize your thoughts: Use discourse markers to connect your ideas and thoughts logically. This will help you to convey your message more clearly. 
Vary your use of discourse markers: Do not rely on one or two discourse markers to connect your thoughts. Instead, use a variety of them to keep your speech interesting and engaging. 
Use discourse markers to emphasize your points: Use discourse markers to emphasize your points and show the examiner that you have a clear understanding of the topic. 
Use discourse markers to show contrast: Use discourse markers like “however” or “on the other hand” to show contrast and to highlight different viewpoints. 
Use discourse markers to show cause and effect: Use discourse markers like “because,” “since,” or “as a result” to show cause and effect relationships between different ideas.
Use discourse markers to summarize: Use discourse markers like “in summary” or “to conclude” to summarize your ideas and make your speech more organized and coherent.
Which Discourse Markers to Use and Why?

Many times, candidates get confused regarding which discourse marker they should use and why should use it? Discourse markers in speaking are helpful in expressing functions of language, so it’s crucial to use the right kind of discourse marker when you try to express a language function.

The Most Frequently Used Connectives

Have a look at the table mentioned below that shows various speech functions one can use during an IELTS Speaking test. 

Sequencing – ordering information First, firstly, the next one, the first thing, first of all, to begin with, moving on to the next reason, on top of that, later, after this, secondly, thirdly, subsequently, finally
Adding information another good example of this is, also, and, besides, additionally, Another thing that comes to mind, another reason for this, and one more thing
Indicating opinion & attitude Unfortunately, definitely, however, actually, to be honest, clearly, I’m afraid, if you ask me, essentially, frankly, basically, sadly, thankfully, as a matter of fact, in fact, seriously,
Comparing Similarly, in the same way, equally, likewise, in a similar fashion, if I compare it to my country
Contrasting However, on one hand, although, instead of, despite, in the opposite way, on the other hand, in contrast, whereas
Giving examples A great example of this is, in other words, a striking example of this, for example, for instance, a personal example is, a classic example is, a clear example of this can be seen, such as, illustrated by

How to Use Discourse Markers Right in IELTS Speaking?

The IELTS speaking test is an interview conducted with a certified examiner, the duration of the test is almost 11 and 14 minutes. The main agenda of questions is to evaluate the candidates’ fluency which is mainly disclosed by the way the person speaks. The flow is often achieved with the effective use of relevant sentences. Also, by ensuring that the examiner is able to understand your messages without making additional efforts, you can impress the examiner.

Discourse markers in speaking are the best way to initiate the flow and make communication clear. However, the candidates must use them intelligently to prove their fluency in the language.

Consider the following for better use of discourse markers: 

Use them relevantly
Discourse markers help in case they are linked to the attitude you try to establish. Otherwise, they sound out of place and might even get you opposite results!For instance

For example:

In case you want to express your sadness over an event that might have happened in your life, then you can say:

“When I was 6, unfortunately, I lost my grandfather, who was very close to me.”

But if you say:

“When I was 6, generally, I lost my grandfather, who was really close to me. “

In case you use the word “generally” instead of “unfortunately” you communicate a different message which has no meaning!

Do not use discourse markers repetitively
Make sure not use discourse markers repetitively. Try to blend them perfectly with other words. Using them, again and again, will make them stand out.For example:

In case you talk about your educational qualifications and you say:

“Firstly, I studied math. Secondly, I realized I don’t like it. Thirdly, I changed my subject to arts.”

Although you try to show the sequence of your decision-making process, it’s not eye catchy, rather you could say-

 “First, I studied math in high school. Then, I realized I don’t like it. So I changed my subject to arts.”

Discourse to be used as s Response
While responding, we mostly use “response tokens” to show that we pay attention to the conversation. A few examples of the same are mentioned below-
Really fine Okay wow
(all) right good Definitely yeah
Certainly great Absolutely I see
quite (more formal) yes Sure –
Wonderful no Exactly –
Mentioned below phases are used when we want to be less direct/forceful, these are known as “hedges”-
apparently Presumably sort of/ kind of* roughly
like Arguably kind of perhaps
probably Just I think surely
maybe – – –
Interjections (Oh! Gosh!)
Single-worded exclamations like oops, ouch, or hooray can show negative as well as positive responses -Yippee!

Oh no!


As mentioned above, discourse markers in speaking are used to carry out a cohesive and fluent conversation without any pauses or stops. Discourse markers play an important role in getting a higher score on your IELTS speaking, especially if we used them wisely.

Discourse Markers in IELTS Speaking Preparation at Study Smart IELTS Coaching

The certified and experienced trainers at Study Smart IELTS Coaching devote their time to understand every single student. After understanding a student’s ability to learn and identifying the working areas the trainers plan their teaching strategies with the aim to help a candidate score well in every module of the IELTS test. IELTS trainer at Study Smart IELTS Coaching can help you prepare Discourse Markers in IELTS Speaking in a much better way. 

There are unique steps that an IELTS trainer at Study Smart IELTS Coaching can take to help you prepare for the effective use of discourse markers in IELTS speaking.

Have a look at the five potential steps by an IELTS trainer at Study Smart IELTS Institute:

Assessment: The IELTS trainer assesses the student’s current level of English proficiency and his/her ability to use discourse markers in speech. This helps the trainer identify areas where the student needs improvement.
Explanation: The trainers at Study Smart explain the importance of discourse markers in IELTS speaking and how they can help the student score higher in the test. They will also provide a list of common discourse markers and explain their meanings and appropriate usage. 
Practice: The trainer will provide you with ample opportunities to practice using discourse markers in your speaking. This can include mock tests, practice exercises, and one-on-one coaching sessions to help you improve your skills. 
Feedback: The trainer will provide feedback on your use of discourse markers, highlighting areas of improvement and suggesting ways to improve. This can include correcting mistakes, providing examples of correct usage, and providing tips to enhance your overall speaking skills. 
Strategy: The trainer will work with you to develop a personalized strategy for using discourse markers effectively in the IELTS speaking test. This may include identifying areas of weakness, developing techniques to overcome them, and practicing specific discourse markers to improve your overall performance. 

By following the above-discussed steps, an IELTS trainer at Study Smart IELTS Coaching can help you prepare for the right use of discourse markers in IELTS Speaking. These steps can enhance your overall performance in the International English Language Testing System test.

The Concluding Thoughts

Discourse markers in speaking helps a lot in getting a good score in IELTS speaking, in case you use them properly. They are the best way to speak confidently and express your thoughts in the right way. So use them smartly to impress the examiner with fluency and coherency but take care not to overuse them.

If you too want to improve your opinion markers skill and need the professional help of a certified IELTS examiner, get in touch with the IELTS experts at Study Smart IELTS Training Institute. Study Smart has years of experience in helping IELTS candidates countrywide prepare for the exam and succeed in the IELTS exam too. 

Choose us for top-quality IELTS coaching in Delhi city. We are also available in other popular cities in India namely Pune, Surat, Mumbai, and more. 

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