How to Use Linking Words and Phrases to Connect Your Sentences
Adding a few linking words and phrases between your sentences (words similar to the English “and then,” “and so,” “after all,” and so on) can help your Japanese feel very fluid and natural. This is especially good when telling a story or relating a series of events. This article will introduce some of the most common of these linking words and phrases, with examples of how and when to use them!
Linking Words and Phrases
Use “だってdatte” at the beginning of a sentence to elaborate on or explain the previous sentence. It can mean “but,” “because,” or “after all” (sometimes, its meaning is a combination of these meanings).
Alaska ni itta toki, se-ta- o go mai mo motte kita. Datte, Alaska ga monosugoku samui mon da
When I went to Alaska, I brought five sweaters. It’s cold there, after all.
If you watch Japanese tv dramas or anime, you may also hear “だって datte” used either by itself or at the start of a sentence either as an indication that the following sentence will be an explanation, or as an exclamation of frustration or petulance (or both at the same time).
When translating, be aware that “だって datte” can have several other meanings. It is either attached to a singular word, or used in a different part of the sentence.
For example, attach “だってdatte” to:
- Question words (who, when, where, etc) to modify them to be “no matter___” (“いつitsu” means “when” but “いつだって itsudatte” means “no matter when).”
- Any noun to mean “even___.” For instance, “私だってwatashi datte” means “even me” or “even I”).
でもDemo , けど kedo , しかし shikashi , and が ga
Japanese has quite a few words that all mean “but” or “however.” These words have little difference in meaning, but they are slightly different in terms depending on usage.
Most importantly, we use “でも demo” and “しかし shikashi” at the start of a sentence (when the previous sentence ended with a period). And we use “けど kedo” and “が ga” to link two sentences or thoughts with no periods between.
“でも demo,” “けど kedo,” and “が ga” are all fairly standard words, with the main difference between them being that “が ga” can sometimes have a meaning closer to “and” than “but.”
“Shikashi,” on the other hand, sounds somewhat more formal. It’s heard when an explanation is being given or a story is being told as opposed to in casual conversation.
Alaska o ryokou shita koto ga aru. Demo, Hawaii o ryokou shita koto ga nai
I have traveled in Alaska. But, I have not traveled in Hawaii.
Alaska o ryokou shita koto ga aru kedo, Hawaii o ryokou shita koto ga nai
I have traveled in Alaska, but I have not traveled in Hawaii.
Similarly to “だって datte,” “でも demo” can be used on the following:
- Attach to question words to modify them to be “no matter___” (for instance, “いつでもitsudemo” (much like “いつだって itsudatte”) means “no matter when”)
- Attached to any noun to mean “even___” (for instance, “私でも watashi demo” means “even me” or “even I”).
You may sometimes hear people saying “けれど keredo,” “けれども keredomo,” or other similar words in place of “けどkedo.” These words are all more or less the same in meaning.
“そういえば souieba” literally means “if you say [it/that]”. It’s used at the start of a sentence similarly to how the phrase “That reminds me” is used in English.
Souieba, netto de yonda kiji ni yoru to, haru no Alaska wa kanari atatakai
That reminds me, according to an article I read online, spring in Alaska is quite warm.
それで Sore de
We use “それで sore de” at the beginning of a sentence when the sentence will be describing the results of an action or situation. This is similar to a combination of “then” and “and so.”
Se-ta- o motte ikanakatta. Sore de, kaze o hiite shimatta
I didn’t bring a sweater. So then, I caught a cold.
それでも Sore demo
“それでも sore demo” literally means “even that,”. But is used similarly to the English “even so”. You can use it at the start of a sentence.
Samui tokoro wa amari suki janai. Soredemo, Alaska ni iku to kimeta
I don’t like cold places very much. Even so, I decided to go to Alaska.
それから Sore kara
“それから sore kara” means “after that” . We use it either at the start of a sentence or in the middle of a sentence to continue a list of sequential actions or events.
Kyonen no 1 gatsu ni Alaska o ryokou shita. Sorekara, Alaska ni hikkosu to kimeta
In January of last year, I traveled in Alaska. After that, I decided to move to Alaska.
それに Sore ni and しかもshikamo
“それに sore ni” and “しかも shikamo” are both similar in meaning to the English “on top of that” or “moreover.” We use it either at the start of a sentence or in the middle of a sentence.
Alaska no natsu wa totemo atatakai. Soreni, natsu ni wa taiyou ga shizumanai
Alaska’s summers are very warm. On top of that, in the summer the sun does not set.
Alaska no natsu wa totemo atatakai, shikamo natsu ni wa taiyou ga shizumanai
Alaska’s summers are very warm, and on top of that, in the summer the sun does not set.
Those are all our linking words and phrases for now! There are still more that we did not get a chance to cover, though!
If there are any other linking words or phrases that you want to learn about in particular, or if you have any questions about the words and phrases in this article, leave us a comment and we’ll include that information in our next linking words and phrases article!