As a teacher (and a nosy one!) I often find myself asking my students to describe things that they have done or experienced. However, even if I don’t ask, my students will usually just tell me about the things that have happened to them on their own. One thing I have noticed about this though is that when they tell a story, they often start off really excited but quickly lose steam, as they realize that they don’t know the words that they need to properly explain their ideas.
It’s very much the same when you try to write in a language that is not your own. There is always a point when it gets a little tricky, especially when you want to link sentences using words that might be just a bit beyond the basic ones.
In fact, I bet that sometimes you have just drawn a blank when trying to explain something in Spanish, haven’t you? If you’re one of these people, then this article is for you because here we will talk about conectores del discurso.
“About what?” you might be thinking right now. Conectores del discurso are those little words that we use to link sentences and order our ideas so that our speech makes more sense.
As you can imagine, there quite a few of these. However, I am not going to ask you to learn all of them. Just choose a couple from each category and ta-da! You’ll be able to make magic happen in your Spanish writing and speech.
So, let’s get to work.
Introducir un tema (to introduce a subject)
- En cuanto a (regarding)
- Con relación a (relative to)
- Por otra parte (on the other hand)
- En relación con (in relation with)
- Por lo que se refiere a (in regards to)
- Acerca de (about)
So, if we want to start talking about something, we just need to choose one of the phrases listed above and we’ll sound like we really know what we are talking about (even when we don’t have a clue!).
So, let’s imagine a conversation with your Spanish boss during which you say the following:
- Con relación al pedido de la empresa X, hemos logrado las ventas , por otra parte estamos esperando la respuesta de Y (Regarding the order from company X, we got the sale. On the other hand, we are waiting to hear from Y).
En relación con (in relation with) and Por lo que se refiere a (in regards to) are more formal, so you might want to use them in meetings. On the contrary, En cuanto a (regarding) is a bit more informal and acerca de is the one you’ll want to use in your day to day conversations. The good news is, this is the shortest one!
Ordenar el discurso (to order a speech)
- Antes de nada (before anything else)
- Para empezar (to begin with)
- A continuación (next)
- En primer lugar (firstly / first of all)
- En segundo lugar (second)
- Después (after)
- Luego (then)
- Finalmente (In the end / finally)
- En último lugar (lastly)
If you are making a speech, you’ll want to order your ideas so that people can follow you better.
- Antes de empezar, me gustaría dar las gracias a mi empresa, por darme esta oportunidad, y a continuación pasaré a contaros nuestro proyecto, en primer lugar explicaré la política de nuestra empresa, luego hablaremos de nuestros acuerdos de colaboración y en último lugar contestaré a vuestras preguntas (Before we start, I would like to thank my company, which gave me this opportunity. Next, I will tell you about our project. First of all, I will explain our policy, then we will talk about our collaboration partners and lastly, I will answer your questions).
Regarding the use of these phrases; all of them are appropriate as long as you use them in the right order. There are no formal or informal situation restrictions here.
Para explicar o clarificar (to explain or clarify)
- Es decir (meaning / that is to say)
- O sea (I mean)
- En efecto (indeed)
- Conviene subrayar (it should be emphasized)
- Dicho de otra manera (in another words / expressed differently)
- Conviene subrayar que lo que tenemos que hacer es aumentar nuestros ingresos, o sea ganar más dinero, o dicho de otra manera ganar tener más ventas (It should be emphasized that what we need to do is increase our income. That means we need to earn more money or, in other words, make more sales).
O sea is not used that much in Spain, and sometimes we even mock people who use it by saying that they are “posh.” Instead, the phrases that you want to use in your normal conversations are es decir (that is to say) and dicho de otra manera (in another words / expressed differently). Leave conviene subrayar (it should be emphasized) for more formal occasions.
Indicar contraste u oposición (to contrast or express the opposite)
- Por el contrario (on the contrary)
- Sin embargo (however)
- A pesar de (despite)
- No obstante (nevertheless)
- En cambio (whereas)
- Sin embargo no podemos presionar a los clientes, a pesar de que necesitamos más ventas (However, we cannot pressure the clients, despite us needing more sales).
For expressing contrast, por el contrario (on the contrary) and sin embargo (however) are the key phrases to use. If you want to make it more personal, you probably want to try a pesar de (despite) or no obstante (nevertheless) for important speeches.
Indicar causa (to explain one’s reasons)
- Ya que (considering that)
- Como (as / like)
- Puesto que (since)
- Dado que (given that)
- Visto que (seeing that)
- Ya que la situación actual no es buena y dado que no tenemos mucho tiempo necesitamos tomar medidas (Considering that the current situation is not good and given that we don’t have enough time, we need to take action).
While we routinely use como (like) in daily speech, I would recommend using dado que (given that) for special occasions.
Añadir ideas (to add ideas)
- Además (besides / in addition)
- Asimismo (likewise)
- Igualmente (equally)
- Además necesitamos acuerdos internacionales, igualmente incrementar la presencia en el país (Besides needing international agreements, we similarly need to increase our national presence).
Any time that you want to add ideas to your stories or speeches, use además. It is simple and known worldwide. The only time you shouldn’t use it is if you are working with clients or you’re meeting with important people. In these cases you should use asimismo (likewise). Use this and you will not only be successful, but surprise them as well!
Dar ejemplos (to give an example)
- Concretamente (concretely)
- En particular (in particular)
- Pongámos por caso (let’s suppose that)
- Pongámos por caso que no podemos realizar esa campaña, deberíamos revisar nuestras opciones (Supposing that we are not able to do that campaign, we should review our options).
You can always use en particular as a connector. Pongámos por caso (let’s suppose that) is the phrase to use in meetings when you want to impress your colleagues.
Hablar de consecuencias (to talk about consequences)
- Por esto (that’s why)
- Por tanto (therefore)
- En consecuencia (consequently)
- Por consiguiente (accordingly)
- Por lo cual (whereby)
- De ahí que (thus)
- La campaña no está teniendo los resultados que esperábamos, por lo tanto debemos cambiarla (The campaign is not having the results we expected. Therefore, we should change it).
Save the last five of these expressions for your formal meetings. Use por esto when you’re chatting with your friends.
Para resumir (to summarize)
- En pocas palabras (in short)
- Para resumir (to sum up)
- En pocas palabras, necesitamos tomar medidas (In short, we need to take action).
The key to summarizing is simplicity. So, para resumir (to sum up) is a win.
Para acabar (to finish)
- En definitiva (in conclusion)
- En conclusión (in conclusion)
- Para terminar (to finish)
Of these phrases, para terminar (to finish) is the surest bet.
- Para terminar os doy las gracias por haber leído el artículo (To finish, I would like to thank you for reading this article.)
I hope you have enjoyed this article and have learned a lot!
Remember, the best way to improve is through practice. So, I challenge you today, or over the next few days, to write a story using the words and phrases detailed above. Leave a comment with sentences below and I will correct them. :)