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G.A.T.E.: Study Skills

The Pivotal Words


The Pivotal Words

©Academic Skills Center, Dartmouth College 2001

No words are as helpful while reading as the prepositions and conjunctions that guide your mind along the pathways of the author's ideas. A word like furthermore says, "Keep going!" However says, "Easy!" Master these words and phrases and you will almost immediately become a better reader, for they will whisper directions in your inner ear.


Additive words

            These say, "Here's more of the same coming up. It's just as important as what we have already said."

                        also                              further                           moreover

                        and                               furthermore                    too

                        besides             in addition


Equivalent words

            They say, "It does what I have just said, but it does this too."

                        as well as                      at the same time            similarly

                        equally important           likewise


Amplification words

            The author is saying, "I want to be sure that you understand my idea; so here's a specific instance."

                        for example(e.g.)            specifically                    as

                        for instance                   such as             like


Alternative words

            These point out, "Sometimes there is a choice; other times there isn't."

                        either/or                        other than

                        neither/nor                     otherwise


Repetitive words

            They say, "I said it once, but I'm going to say it again in case you missed it the first time."

                        again                            in other words

                        to repeat                       that is(i.e.)


Contrast and change words

            "So far I've given you only one side of the story; now let's take a look at the other side."

                        but                                on the contrary  still

                        conversely                     on the other hand           though 

                        despite                          instead of                      yet

                        however             rather than                     regardless

                        nevertheless                  even though                   whereas

                        in spite of                      notwithstanding


Cause and effect words

            "All this has happened; now I'll tell you why."

                        accordingly                    since                            then

                        because                        so                                 thus

                        consequently                 hence                           therefore

                        for this reason


Qualifying words

            These say, "Here is what we can expect. These are the conditions we are working under."

                        if                                   although                        unless

                        providing                        whenever                      


Concession words

            They say, "Okay! We agree on this much."

                        accepting the data         granted that                   of course


Emphasizing words

            They say, "Wake up and take notice!"

                        above all                        more important  indeed


Order words

            The author is saying, "You keep your mind on reading: I'll keep the numbers straight."

                        finally                            second                          then

                        first                               next                              last


Time words     

            "Let's keep the record straight on who said what and especially when."

                        afterwards                     meanwhile                     now

                        before                           subsequently                 presently          

                        formerly             ultimately                      previously



Summarizing words

            These say, "We've said many things so far. Let's stop here and pull them together."

                        for these reasons           in brief

                        in conclusion                 to sum up






©Academic Skills Center, Dartmouth College 2001