Skip to content

Logical ligaments

graphic of human bodyThe words ‘therefore’ and ‘however’ are sometimes used loosely, as if to add an argumentative feel. But they are potent words with highly specific uses. ‘Therefore’ expresses a strictly logical consequence. There are no eyewitness accounts. We must therefore treat other sources with caution. ‘However’ signals strong contrast or contradiction. The inside temperature fell. The outside temperature rose, however. (Note that you can’t use these words to join two sentences at a comma, as you would with ‘and’ or ‘but’. They need a full stop or, if you like, a semi-colon.) If the underlying logic is not there, adding these words will expose the gap not paper it over. Are you really describing a consequence or only a connection? Are you revealing a contradiction or only a distinction? We sometimes think about writing like we look at the human body – paying attention to the organs, bones, muscles and the surface of the skin. The ligaments, the elastic tissues that connect our joints, are often ignored. Yet ligaments hold bodies together. And logical ligaments hold essays together.

James McConnachie31 October 2019

Related articles

Watch your pronouns: be clear what you’re talking about

If your essay is peppered with comments such as ‘Who?’ or ‘What?’, you may have made a common grammatical error. To check, look for the pronouns.

Parts of speech – the pictorial way

Here’s an enjoyable way to learn how the different parts of speech affect your writing style.

This… what?

Don’t make your reader sweat – be precise about what you’re talking about.

Back To Top