Linking Expressions: Compare and Contrast

If there is one thing language expects from us, it’s that we use it. Yes, we can read, listen, use grammar even, but in order to remain fully active, we must apply this knowledge through speaking and writing! Understanding English is one thing, but using it clearly and effectively is another. Using linking expressions during conversation or better yet, applying them to written assignments set by your teacher enables you maximize your range of vocabulary, whilst this also gives you practice when story-telling or when expressing personal opinions. As we improve our level of English (whether we’re native or non-native) we often choose to compare and contrast several ideas or opinions in the same sentence. Take a look at the examples below:

1) I like apples. I dislike bananas.
2) I like apples but I dislike bananas.

Above, example 1) provides us with an extremely basic comparison, split between two sentences. The speaker states what they do like in one sentence before stating what dislike in a new sentence. The contrasting of two ideas is clear but of the lowest level. In example 2), we see the same comparison, except the two ideas have been linked through but. Again, this is rather basic but at least we are starting to apply two different opinions in the same sentence. Now, what if we could replace but with a better, more advanced piece of vocabulary? Say, something we might read in a newspaper/magazine, or hear when watching the news.

3) Skies remain cloudy, however, sunshine is forecast throughout the afternoon.
4) Despite the torrential rain, farmers’ crops have benefited from such miserable weather.

Looking at these new examples, it is clear the language level has shifted from elementary to that of high/upper intermediate. Still, the simple comparing and contrasting of two ideas remains clear. We are presented with something negative, followed by something positive, which are connected through the linking expressions however and despite.

Below is an index of further linking expressions you may want to apply when either speaking or writing.

In spite of
In spite of losing his wallet, Toby had a pleasant vacation.

Although I have a British accent, I am actually half-American.

Roger Federer is playing terrible of late. Nevertheless, I expect him to beat Andy Murray.

Alana takes the bus to school whereas I like to cycle.

Whilst Andrew enjoys savory, Rebecca prefers sweet.

In contrast to
The South American climate is somewhat humid, in contrast to weather in Europe.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Try to use linking expressions other than but. This might be tricky at first because after all, but is reliable and easy to remember. However (see what i did there!), if you want to take your English to the next level get into the habit of using at least one of the expressions listed above regularly. Your teacher won’t be disappointed!