Contrastive Discourse Markers Usage in Academic Writing


A wide range of alternative terms have been used in academia to define contrastive discourse markers (CDM) among different researchers with some labeling them as pragmatic connectives, discourse signaling devises, phatic connectives, pragmatic markers, and sentence connectives as used in making sentences and paragraph writing. Al-Yaari, Al Hammadi, Alyami, and Almaflehi (2013) admit that discourse markers are lexical expressions that are drawn from the prepositional phrases, syntactic classes of conjunctions, and adverbials.

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Al-Yaari et al. (2013) argue that the lexical expressions signal the relationship between two sections of a sentence having the S2 and S1 components that are the post and prior segments of a sentence in English, which is the essence of discourse markers (Mahboob & Elyas, 2014).

Here, S1 and S2 are used in the context of signaling the contrastive relationship between a dichotomy of the two sentences either in a complex or simple statement. Here, the relationship between S1 and S2 segments in a sentence that a speaker intends to convey is dedicated by a discourse marker (Shu-hua, 2010). The presence of the discourse marker in a sentence enables the speaker to make a coherent interpretation of a sentence and a paragraph. The connection between the two sentences and the meaning conveyed is governed by rules to ensure coherence and the contrast between coherent and incoherent statements can be distinguished by the use of intuition.

Different categories of discourse markers are used to make sentences that are used in paragraph writing. One category of discourse markers includes cause and effect, adding, contrasting, and illustrating. Other discourse markers include because, therefore, since, so and such as depending on the exam level and the context of the application (Al-wossabi, 2014). However, a critical review of syntactic patterning of contrastive discourse markers shows that they do not have similar patterns, but show more than a single pattern. One class of discourse markers that are usually regarded as the citation form include statements such as even so, on the contrary, conversely, nevertheless, however, still, and on the other hand among others.

Saudi students also use another pattern of discourse markers in sentence and paragraph writing which include markers such as despite, in comparison, rather, in contrast, instead, and which are used to introduce the second segment of a sentence but are used with the pronouns this/that and occur with a modified form of S1with some of the statements functioning as discourse markers depending on the underlying conditions. For instance, one of the occurrences of cases of syntax occurs in a special case in a sentence where despite functions as a preposition by introducing S1 as a separate segment in a sentence (Shu-hua, 2010).

In addition, the sequence of different types of sentences exists in different forms and can be used to make different sentences such as declarative statements. For instance, declarative statements can be made with discourse markers that are introduced before and after the declarations statements are made in a sentence.

In conclusion, the results of the study show that contrastive discourse markers occur in three classes with each placing an emphasis or restrictions on the meaning and relationship between S1 and S2 segments of a sentence. For instance, some classes use but to define the relationship between S1 and S2 and the meaning differs from one class to the other. In most cases, different when different discourse markers are used on the same sentence, the interpretation or meaning differs significantly from one class of discourse marker to the other.

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However, some discourse markers can replace or substitute other discourse makers in a sentence and convey the same meaning. For example, but can be used to substitute however and that depends on the sequence with which the markers are used. When, however, is used to substitute but, the order in which ‘but’ and however are used in the sentence determines the extent to which restrictions are imposed on the sentence (Shu-hua, 2010).

Classification of Connectors

Different classes of connectors exist for making additions, comparisons, cause-effect, time, and contrast in a sentence. In addition, the connectors are effective when used appropriately with the connectors that are classified as coordinating, prepositions, conjunctive, subordinating, and correlative conjunctions. Each of the connectors is used with different frequencies by students when writing sentences and paragraphs of different levels and classes. For instance the use of discourse markers such as because, since, due to, as a result, for (cause), so (effect), not only, but, however, despite, in spite of, and although connectors generate different meanings depending on the context of usage.

In addition, Taboada (2006) offers a criticism of the position taken by other academicians on the use of discourse markers by arguing that they are deficient in the explanation of how discourse markers are separated from other words in a sentence and how they can be used at the beginning of each sentence to convey meaning since they belong to their own class of markers. Tahaineh (2014) and Taboada (2006) agree that discourse markers are appropriate for use within a sentence if they are separated from other functional words so that they provide a link that allows them to continue a sentence without disrupting the flow of a conversation.

Tianjian (2012) among other researchers agree that discourse markers are ‘prosodically’ independent because when they are used in a conversation, they are usually separated from the other functional words in a sentence by intonation breaks and pauses, and sometimes they can be separated by using pauses and intonation as well. In addition, the discourse markers are seen as complex morphologically and do possess the element of ‘monomorphemics’ (Ziv, 1998). In addition, it is shown that the discourse markers can be separated or insulated in a sentence syntactically because they do not form a relationship with the words that are adjacent in the sentence (Yingjie, 2012).

On the other hand, other academic researchers contend that the use of discourse markers “except for oh and well” each have their core meanings although the focus seems to narrow because it does not show how the verbs such as “see, look, and listen, deictic such as here and there, interjections such as gosh and boy, and meta-talk such as this is the point and what it means, and quantifier phrases such as anyway, anyhow, and whatever” (Wahby, 2014, p.12) work well. Here, the aim is to understand how the discourse markers function in a conversation to make sure that the position on discourse markers is coherent. It is asserted that coherence can be achieved by creating a relationship between the different units that are adjacent in a discourse.

To address the issues of discourse markers, some elements were reviewed and confirmed to have the means of making the discourse coherence. The elements include the structure used in the exchange of words in a conversation that shows the relationship between the alterations that occur in a speech (Wahby, 2014). In addition, it shows the effects of the action structure when the words are used in a sentence to show how the sequence of actions in a speech occurs in a discourse a conversation (Wahby, 2014).

Another important element that can be accounted for in the participation framework is critical in defining the way different people communicate with one another and the way those who listen to the speech understand the words. The last state is the information state that shows the current and future state of accumulation of knowledge as it evolves with time in the course of the discourse.

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The discourses having been identified and studied using different models proposed by different authors, it is necessary to understand the contrastive discourse markers and their effects when applied to female undergraduate students for writing purposes. Different authors argue from different perspectives on the use of contrastive discourse markers and one of the approaches in the arguments is the use of sequence to express an idea. In this case, the argument is that the conjunctions can be used to recognize the discourse markers that are in either semantic or grammatical items.

Discourse markers among female students

When the contrastive discourse markers are used in spoken language, it is important to distinguish the relationship between the source of coherence in the spoken word and the order of the segments in the sentence. Here, one negative polarity can be used to negate one section of the sentence where the spoken word is used to contrast the content of the statement. For instance, a sentence that read that “last week, the weather was bad in Scotland, whereas in the Netherlands the sun was shining” shows the description of negative polarity, the semantics, and the additive operation. Here, the contrastive relationship is shown in the sentence using the word “whereas”, which represents the meaning that is conveyed by the speaker (Vetter, 1991).

The sequence of the contractive discourse markers is noncontiguous, which is true to the statement that “CDMs occur in discourse segment-final position less frequently than in segment-initial position, and even less frequently in medial position, sometime changing their focus” (Vetter, 1991, p.12) here, it is crucial to note the students who are not well versed in the use of contrastive discourse markers find it difficult to use them unless they have been taken through their usage (Vetter, 1991).

It is crucial to be informed of what makes a word to be classified into the category of contrastive discourse markers. The first element “to consider here is that contrasts occur at the intersection of the words between the pragmatic, semantic, and prosodic systems” (Vetter, 1991). Here, the rationale is to shed light on how the contrastive discourse markers work and how they interact when used to make an expression. Contrastive is “a term taken to mean when a speaker makes a statement that is intended to make a contrast between an entity or concept and an utterance made by a speaker” (Vetter, 1991, p.17). Here, there are two approaches that have been discussed to show how contrast in pragmatics and semantics occurs (Vetter, 1991).

When semantics is used, contrast occurs as part of the information structure in a sentence. Here, every entity makes some reference or refers to the existing discourse model or updates it, or simply refers to the model. However, it is possible for alternative sets of prepositions to be used by exploiting the pragmatic effects of the language (Vetter, 1991).

The study shows focus to be the most critical element to be used to control the information structure in a sentence, which happens to be the main linguistic mechanism for use in a sentence. Here, the focus can either be ‘organizational’ or quantificational’. However, academic literature shows that both sets of the argument are orthogonal because different sets of information structure can be captured in the usage process (Vetter, 1991). In English, it is possible for the prosodic marking of contrast to occur and to be in each utterance or in a written sentence ((Wahby, 2014). When an utterance is made, the contrast occurs in the pitch accent and that confirms the prosodic marking in the sentence.

Although some academicians agree by stressing that contrastive discourse markers are important for written English, it is important to understand the use of discourse markers in the context of contrastive pragmatic that departs from the pragmatic functioning and mapping into other languages to clarify their usage by undergraduate Saudi female students. Research shows that different expressions can be made using different linguistic forms that are explicitly represented as per-formatives in institutional contexts. Here, the function of the form-based frame references moves away from the pragmatic function to map them onto the different linguistic forms (Zhen-zhen, 2012).

To address the issues of the mappings, the conversational contributions require that some elements have to be fulfilled. Here, the fulfillment of the issues could provide the basis for addressing the challenges that occur when using contrastive discourse markers (Zhen-zhen, 2012). Here, there is a need to avoid illocutionary force, presuppositions, and prepositions. For a statement to be complete and convey the required meaning, the statement must realize responsive contributions, which possess more linguistic expressions, more lexical expressions, phonological configurations, morphemes, and syntactic constructions (Zhen-zhen, 2012).

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For instance, the statement, “I don’t belief they should have to pay taxes” negation is connected to the negative operators and in the context of the negation operator (Xiaolan, 2007). However, it is evident in the sentence that when the frame of investigation has terminated, a complex clause arises and it becomes difficult to identify the section of the sentence that is negated. However, to address the problem, it is important to differentiate the negative clauses in their non-contracted and contracted forms. Here, the non-contracted focus, the negated part of the statement is stressed upon by assigning prominence to the operator in the sentence (Zhen-zhen, 2012).


For instance ‘but’ is used as a semantic functional contrastive discourse marker that enables a speaker to create a contrast in a sentence having two discourse segments (Jucker & Ziv, 1998). The ‘but’ discourse marker is classified as coordinating conjunction in a sentence to create the contrast between two statements on a sentence. A statement like, the “high level positions are stressful at times, but the financial rewards make these positions very desirable indeed” is a statement that consists of ‘but’ as a conjunctive discourse marker that joints two statements to covey a certain meaning.

A statement like “Sue left very late. But she arrived on time” consists of two discourse segments are used to indicate “the relationship between an utterance and the prior discourse” (Fartousi, 2012, p.29) in a statement, However, the statement using but shows a morphological complexity and is detached from the sentence and does not show any relationship with the previous segment. A key identifying factor is the discourse marker that has a pragmatic function in the sentence (Fraser, 1998). However, “the use of but in a sentence sometimes raises the question on whether the element qualifies to the used in an elliptical sentence” (Jucker & Ziv, 1998).

For instance, when but is used in the sentence as follows “I tried to get there” (Emery, 2000, p.12). I “failed. And I tried to call you but no one answered” (Emery, 2000) qualifies to be termed as a strong discourse marker. Sometimes when the contrastive discourse marker, but, is used with “in contrast” as shown in the statement “in contrast imposes a more specific contrast than do but and on the other hand” raises the question of how but fits into the expression (Fraser, 2006).

The reason for stating the argument is because of the core meaning contained in each discourse marker. The underlying rationale for the argument is that discourse markers have contextual meanings that show the “contextual coordinates for utterances: they index an utterance to the local contexts in which utterances are produced and in which they are to be interpreted” (Fraser, 2006, p.19). Here, a contrast can be made between the two statements.

Sometimes the sequencing of the ‘but’ discourse marker in a sentence to separate the two segments of a sentence consists of the primary and secondary components of the discourse garments. For instance, the statement like “do not run, but instead walk” shows how ‘but’ is used in the sentence consisting of S1 and S2, the primary and secondary segments respectively.


The use of however as a discourse marker is illustrated in the following sentence, “he drove the truck through the parking lot and into the street. Then he almost cut me off. After that, he ran a red light. However, these weren’t his worst offenses” (Fraser, 2006, p.10). It can be seen from the sentence that the marker ‘however’ creates a relationship between the sentences and in the segments (Fraser, 2006).

The segments “show that the marker, however, does not relate immediately, but relates the segments that are before the statement” (Fartousi, 2012). In addition, the discourse ‘however’ does not introduce S2 but can occur in different positions of the sentence that occur in the final positions of the sentence. The statement “Harry is old enough to drink” (Kang, 2010, p.2). However, he can’t because he has hepatitis” illustrates the position of the discourse marker in the sentence and illustrates how the marker ‘however’ introduces different sections in the sentence (Lee & Chen, 2009).

The other issue that arises when using ‘however’ in a sentence is the grammatical status of the statements that are made with the use of the discourse marker is used on the sentence. For instance, in the sentence “we left late. However, we arrived home on time” here, two independent sentences are connected with the use of the discourse marker “however” (Lee & Chen, 2009, p.23).

In academic writing, indirect contrasts are used in a situation where the reader or hearer of the statement does not understand the contrast made in the statement clearly. Here, the reader of the statement must find an indirect message to make the contrast clear for the interpretation of the statement to be done correctly with the correct meaning. The results are messages that are rejected that are defined by the indirect contrast discourse marker. For instance, when the following statements should be used, the following results occur.

I am a “certified nurse. However, my husband does not permit me to practice (Zhen-zhen, 2012).

The first statement that “my husband does not permit me to practice” consists of the contextual meaning of the statement and the first part of the statement consists of the explicit implication “I am a certified nurse”, which means that the contextual meaning of the statement is denied because of the sequence of the statements. A critical analysis of the statement is that the first statement is in direct conflict with the second statement (Zhen-zhen, 2012).

However, it is appreciable for the student to use the most acceptable sequence when making an utterance or when communicating by written statements using a word such as ‘but‘. When used properly, the word can penetrate any words that are used as contrastive discourse markers in a statement such as however, in contrast, contrary to expectations, conversely, and on the other hand. In addition, the research shows that the words mentioned above it is possible to use but in the same sequence with the word yet or to use the word with other words such as ‘on the other hand’ or in comparison and in contrast. Here, the research shows that both statements of a cluster of words follow the same sequence.


Here, one group of contrastive discourse markers are used to convey the direct contrasts and meaning and the other group is used to convey the meaning of indirect contrasts only (Mahboob & Elyas, 2014). It is possible to use markers such as however, contrary, instead, and but to accommodate both the direct and indirect contrastive markers. Let us look at the use of instead and the necessary semantics that are required when using the marker ‘instead’ as illustrated in the statements shown below. For instance, a statement that reads like “I do not provide drugs, drink, or use profanity, instead we do our best to instill morals in our young children” (Fraser, 1999, p.12).

From the use of the word ‘instead’ in the above statement, it is clear that there are implicit and explicit implications of the statement. However, the actual use of instead is when it occurs in a statement that is in declarative and interrogative forms. Here, the declarative use of the marker occurs in a syntactic sequence, but that does not imply that it is any sequence that can be used on the word (Shu-hua, 2010).

On the Contrary

The “on the contrary” contrastive discourse marker is used to create a sense of denial and is classified in the group of a subcategory of discourse markers (Schiffrin, 1988). It is typical to argue that the speaker who makes a statement that signals the components in a sentence referred to as S1 and S2 subcategories make the sentence to convey a denial message to the listener. Here, the “on the contrary discourse markers” that use S1 and S2 categories show that S1 is in contrast with the S2 markers (Qin & Xiaoyu, 2013). In “a sequence of discourse segments“ S1 or On the contrary, S2” ,on the contrary signals that the speaker who makes the S2 statement considers S1 to be an incorrect representation of some action, state, or property attributed to an aspect of that segment, and offers S2 as the correct representation” (Qin & Xiaoyu, 2013, p.10).

For instance, the statement that:

“I’m not hungry. On the contrary, I’m starved” it clearly shows that the speaker negates S2 and affirms S1 to be correct” (Qin & Xiaoyu, 2013, p.4).

When used in academic writing, the contrastive discourse markers can be classified into those that are defined by expressions that include “on the contrary, instead, conversely, and but” in sentences to convey certain meanings. The meaning conveyed by the use of the discourse markers is included in the signaling of differences between the discourse segments of indirect and direct contrasts. One of the examples is “Susan is thin but John is fat” which occurs when the one making the statement wants to make a comparison between the two contrastive users (Qin & Xiaoyu, 2013).

When writing or making a statement using both contrastive markers, it is important to ensure that meaning is conveyed in the statement and the contrast is made meaningfully (Qin & Xiaoyu, 2013). So that if Susan is thin and John is fat, the use of but is unnecessary because the user does not construe a contrast between the statements, otherwise, the bearer of the statement should frame the statement to show a contrast between the two segments of the statement. If the contrast indicated in the statement contains a single concept with a unique value that is compared with the same concept with a different value, then the resulting statement is a direct contrast. On the other hand, if two concepts have the same values, then the contrast must be made with more statements to clearly explain the contrasts.


Although is a discourse marker that falls into the class of discourse markers that are used the contrast between two sentences. For example, “John was late, although he arrived on time” (Fraser, 2006, p.5). The study shows that the use of although can be used interchangeably with while because they fall under the class of discourse markers to include “but, yet, however, nevertheless, nonetheless, in contrast, by contrast, instead, in spite, despite, although, though, even though, on the other hand” (Fraser, 2006, p.5). The use of although can be taken to be reliable when considered from the context of reliability. However, it is critical to note that the use of discourse markers can be emphasized depending on the context of usage and the meaning intended to be conveyed (Fraser, 2006).


If negative semantic interpretations are used with multiple or double negatives, the proposition becomes true when the number of negatives is kept to be even (Zhen-zhen, 2012), however, the proposition becomes untrue when the number is made uneven. However, the model is based on the argument that supports the idea that two contractive forms can be used that include the ‘n’ and the not forms (Ziv, 1998). In addition, the negative morphological markers can be used to negate a statement, such as the ‘un’ that can be used to transform a statement from false to true.

However, when examined from the communication paradigm point of view, the case is not true. It has been shown that when two negatives are used in spoken statements rather than in written statements, the negatives work as understatements (Ziv, 1998). There is a significant potential inappropriateness of using boosted negatives in the statement. Here, the contexts in which the negatives occur depend on the language of the speaker and the operators used in the sentence (Fraser, 2006).

The following tabular comparison must be comprehensively and thoroughly completed and developed you can also add more columns to include and discuss more related studies and empirical research

Description Fraser Jucker and Ziv Various Emery Fraser Kang Lee and Chen
But Connect Connector Contrast Contrastive
However Contrastive connector, S1, and S2 statements Position, use in a sentence
Description Mahboob and Elyas Fraser Shu-Hua Schiffrin Qin and Xiaoyu Yingjie Zhen-Zhen, Fraser,
Instead Grouping markers Contrasting sentence Role of instead in a sentence
On the contrary Create a denial in the sentence Connecting S1 and S2, use of conversely, comparison
Although Context reliability
Yet Keeping negative to convey meaning
Ziv (1998) On the contrary, in addition, however,
Zhen-zhen (2012) In addition, also, first, additionally, moreover, important
Yingjie (2012) Moreover, equally important, however, in contrast
Xiaolan (2007) Expressions, spoken, in fact, written
Wahby (2014) In fact, wherever,
Vetter (1991 Cause and effect, in addition, but, comparison
Tianjian (2012) Comparison, however, as well as, time, after a while
Tahaineh (2014) Coordinating conjunctions
Taboada (2006) Coordinating conjunctions
Shu-hua (2010) Combining sentences, S2, S1.
Schiffrin (2001) Meaning of context
Al-wossabi (2014). Conjunctive adverbs, prepositions, corrective
Al-Yaari, Al Hammadi, Alyami & Almaflehi (2013 Teaching in class, grammatical use of words
Daif-Allah & Albesher (2013). However, when, moreover, in fact, additionally, but, connectors
Connor (1996). But, in addition, while, as a result, therefore, and
Fraser (1998). But, whereas, however, while, conjunctive and coordinating verbs.
Kang (2010). Unlike, moreover, in contrast, but, when, in addition
Tianjian (2012) And, but, in addition, as a result, despite

The role of CDMs in Academic writing

Contrastive discourse markers can be used in a variety of situations to make different statements that convey different meanings to the audience. One example is the use of “argumentative and expository writing” in academic writing. The study shows that two forms of coherent and incoherent discourse markers happen because if the discourse markers are used properly, they can enable the writer to coherent statements that convey the meaning of a statement with grammatical and communicative correctness (Cheng & Robertson, 2012).

Connor (1996) argues that in academic writing, the contrastive discourse markers are important in creating coherent statements indicative of the relationship between the expressions that occur in a statement.

Here, there should be an appropriate use of signals that show how different segments of the sentence or stamen. The “process of creating coherent texts involves an indication of relationships between the things one is ‘on about’ to enable deductive reasoning and comprehension of what is conveyed in the statements by the reader (Connor, 1996). In this case, coherence is about the “relations that hold together different parts of the discourse” and that depends on the way the readers of the statements understand the meaning that is conveyed in them. To view a statement as simply coherent means that the written statement using the contrastive discourse markers are understood in the context of the communication intended by the writer of the statement (Connor, 1996).

However, additional elements such as the encyclopedic knowledge of the reader determine the extent to which the statements are understood. That is because, it is the way the people who read the text interprets the text that determines the coherence of the statements marked with contrastive discourse e markers (Coupland, Robinson & Coupland, 1994). Here, the same statement can be read with different meanings and communicative intentions, but the result must be identical (Coupland et al., 1994). The quality of being coherent and the coherence in the statements matter a significant deal in determining the qualitative use of the contrastive discourse markers (Coupland et al., 1994).

The key CDMs which Saudi Female EFL learners generally prefer to use in their academic writing.

The teaching and use of the English language are universal and are dynamically growing in use among the female EFL students in Saudi Arabia in sentence and paragraph writing. Here, discourse markers are used by students in their academic writing to link two components in a sentence to convey a certain meaning. However, the use of discourse markers depends on the competence of students in English to write sentences and paragraphs at different levels of study.

A study conducted by Daif-Allah and Albesher (2013) at the Qassim University shows that because of the competence of different students at different levels of study, most of the PYP EFL students preferred to use different levels of the discourse makers and connectors to make sentences when writing paragraphs. For instance, according to Daif-Allah and Albesher (2013), most of the students preferred to use the first category of discourse markers that consists of adding, illustrating, cause and effect, and contrasting as has been discussed elsewhere in the paper.

Daif-Allah and Albesher (2013) emphasized that most of the students preferred to use markers such as “in addition, because, also, and since” in paragraphs writing while other discourse markers such as ‘however, but, such as, on the other hand, so, and therefore’ were less preferred.

In addition, the use of English as a medium of communication enables users to accommodate and attract new cultures into their cultures (Coupland et al., 1994). The results are critical for Saudi undergraduate female students who use the English language in spoken and written communication.

An investigation of the use of contrastive discourse markers for undergraduate Saudi female students showed that most of the students use so that is used most frequently, because that is used less frequently as opposed to so, and however that is used most less frequently. However, “the less frequently used discourse markers include however, yet, and therefore. In addition to the mentioned discourse markers, the use of and, so, because, besides, therefore, yet, are used less frequently” (Fartousi, 2012, p.34).

Evidence shows that native speakers use contrastive discourse markers more than nonnative speakers. Research shows that native speakers use discourse markers more frequently than nonnative speakers in writing and speaking. Here, the contrast is because native speakers know when and where to use contrastive discourse markers than nonnative speakers. The professional use of contrastive discourse makers among native speakers when compared with nonnative speakers of English shows those female undergraduate students can learn how to use the markers if they are thoroughly y taught how to use the discourse markers.

Daif-Allah and Albesher (2013) conducted a reach to establish the reasons underlying the reasons behind the low usage of discourse markers and connectors in paragraph writing among the EFL students at Qassim University. The study established that most students have poor wring skills, do not frequently practice and speak using DMs and connectors, have little knowledge of English, make numerous errors when using preposition markers in sentences, and focus on the knowledge provides by the teachers only without doing their research into the use of discourse markers.

Knowledge of key CDMs and the quality of academic writing relations

One of the critical elements that are important in the use of discourse markers by female undergraduate students is coherence. Coherence is when the written statements are clear and it is possible for a written statement to be clear when “the elements in a sentence are put and fit together and convey the intended meaning clearly” (Fartousi, 2012, p.35). In addition, the quality of the coherence of the statements made using contrastive discourse markers makes the communication clear. The rationale is that “the process of creating coherent text involves an indication of relationships between the things one is ‘on about” (Fartousi, 2012, p.38). Here, coherence is in the context of the use and clarity of contrastive discourse markers.

When using the contrastive discourse marker, it is important to be skilled on how to signal the “relationship between the interpretation of the segment they introduce, S2, and the prior segment, S1” (Fartousi, 2012, p.30), where S2 and S1 are segments of the discourse statements. Typically, the fundamental element here is to understand the relationships that make the connection coherent when making written and speaking statements.

However, when making statements that are either written or in speaking, the results show that the contexts in which the contrastive discourse markers are used to determine the quality of the statements. In practice, the context in which the markers are used determines the interpretation of the meaning and the relationship between the contrastive discourse markers. It is also important to distinguish between hypotactic relations in discourse markers and those markers used to make parataxis expressions (Fartousi, 2012).

Here, the markers used to make the expressions include “although, even though” by classifying some statements to express the hypotactic statements and the use of markers such as “anyway, however” to express the parataxis relations. It is important to note that “since in some cases, elements of contrast and concession are combined in uses of linking adverbials, it is crucial for the learner to understand how to distinguish between concessions and contrast “since in some cases, elements of contrast and concession are combined in uses of linking adverbials” (Fartousi, 2012, p.36).

Here, the degree of interaction the speaker or writer makes in different environments including speech situations determines the extent to which the female undergraduate student is able to effectively use the contrastive discourse markers to communicate effectively. In addition, it is important to understand that different discourse markers bear different weights and the frequency of using the markers varies significantly.

Challenges in using CDM s in the Saudi contexts

The challenges of using contrastive discourse markers as experienced by the Saudi female students when communicating whether in written or in spoken form. The challenges include the ability of the student to identify the mistakes they make when communicating an idea in written in English, which is a foreign language (Mahboob & Elyas, 2014). It is natural for learners of English to make mistake, but the problem arises when the students continue to make similar mistakes even when they have repeatedly been made aware of such mistakes. The idiosyncratic noticeable deviation from what has been taught is an error that most foreign learners make when studying English.

On the other hand, an error can be used as a source of understanding of how effective a specific instructional delivery method has been used in delivering instructions to the English language learner.

For instance, there can be errors or mistakes in the use of preposition markers. It is widely agreed among scholars who have taught English language learners as a second language that “anybody who has taught advanced foreign learners of English is aware that these little abstract, chaotic functions of the prepositions remain a stumbling block long after mastery of essentials has been achieved” (Al-wossabi, 2014, p.24).

It is evident that the prepositions are very important in making English language constructions because they play the important roles of making grammatical sentences, in knowledge extractions, indexing, and knowledge that has been extracted because they are critical in conveying meaning when the student writes to compare, approximate, and achieve the comparisons that are necessary to make written statement convey the correct meaning.

The problem of Low Practice of Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Tasks

The problem of critical thinking happens because most students lack critical thinking and that makes them unable to connect what they have been taught in English. Critical thinking skills are important for students to apply in the context of the study scenario by walking the students through the critical thinking process (Mahboob & Elyas, 2014). In most cases, when students have low critical thinking skills, they lack the core elements of “ill-structured problems, criteria for assessing thinking, student assessment of thinking, and improvement of thinking” Mahboob & Elyas, 2014, p.10). Here, the element of clarity of communication is important for female students when solving different tasks in class (Mahboob & Elyas, 2014).

Critical thinking skills enable the female students to make the best choices that underscore the ability to be creative in using the “emotional tone of the target person to solve problems”. Here, higher-order thinking and critical thinking is to some authors bearing the same meaning. To be successful in the use of critical thinking strategies, it is important to ensure reflective, goals directed methods to enable students to solve different tasks and problems in English. The most critical elements included in the process include meta-cognition, evidence in reasoning, and “analysis, inference, interpretation, explanation, and self-regulation; requires inquisitive, systematic, analytical, judicious, truth-seeking, open-minded, and confident dispositions toward critical-thinking processes” (Mahboob & Elyas, 2014, p.12).

In practice and theory, critical thinking is defined by the use of different dimensions of meta-cognition that consist of attention, attitude, and commitment to communicate. Researchers agree that goals and dispositions such as declarations, regulations, intense desire, and preparations, re framing ideas, and application are critical elements used to define critical thinking.

The core critical thinking skills are achieved by setting goals for problems that have been clearly defined, formulating the right questions after the correct observations have been made, recalling, encoding, comparing, classifying, restructuring, summarizing, creating patterns, attributes, removing errors, and establishing the main ideas in the learning process (Mahboob & Elyas, 2014). The key concepts that are used in task execution and problem-solving include principle formation, decision making, oral disclosure, comprehension, knowledge and self-control, integration, evaluation, and content that is schema dependent.

The problem of Academic Writing Pedagogy and the Teaching Styles

The methods of delivering instructions are important for teachers and students to stimulate in the students the element of higher-order thinking that is driven by clarity of communication to enhance the critical thinking of students (Al-wossabi, 2014). The teaching style should factor in lesson plans that model effective thinking skills that address the teaching and learning needs of the students. Scaffolding enables the teacher to deliver instructions that factor high order learning skills Al-wasabi, 2014).

Useful teaching styles are important to enable students to develop cognition abilities and effective problem-solving skills. The study shows that some of the “proposed instructional methods do not include meta-cognition, rehearsal, organisation, and elaboration components using specifically designed strategies” (Fartousi, 2012, p.18). Short presentations, direct instructions, guided practical teaching skills, and feedback should be some of the instructional methods to use in solving novel problems for the student to obtain corrective information (Al-Yaari, Al Hammadi, Alyami & Almaflehi, 2013).

In conclusion, it is important to use the six steps of critical thinking to be used to solve tasks and problems that female students encounter in academic writing. Some of the steps include identifying a problem to be solved using markers that enable the student to communicate clearly, clear definition of the context of the problem to correctly evaluate the plausible options that define the solution to a problem to analytically determine the most appropriate course of action to take. When a student has taken a course of action that is deemed appropriate, the explicit reasons for taking the course of action should be demonstrated in the statements they write or in the speech the student makes (Al-Yaari et al., 2013).

The problem of the Kinds of Writing Assignments

The problem of academic writing with female undergraduate students in Saudi is evident among the students because of the cultural orientation of the students and their backgrounds (Al-Yaari et al., 2013). Most of the problems are related to domain-specific procedural issues, which include problems found in the writing and reading procedures and the use of expressions in constructing sentences.

Other problems include content-specific issues that occur because of the poor knowledge of the user of the discourse marker in a sentence when expressed in either spoken or in written, the interference of one’s foreign language when required to write and speaks in English as a second language, and generalization of the use discourse markers because of the incompetence of the student in using the English language to write an assignment (Barnawi, 2011).

Some of the errors that researchers have identified in compositions written by female undergraduate students in Saudi Arabia include “substitution, addition and omission errors. Some of the examples cited include substitution: at instead of in, at the winter the weather is very cold, at the summer term all students like to take late classes, where the errors include the use of at instead of in” Barnawi, 2011, p.23).

The problems occur because of the generalized use of prepositions to make different expressions in a relationship that conveys a different meaning to what the writer intends. Most of the errors are attributed to the interference of the leaner’s native language as is evident in the sentence stating that “there are many customs between the populations of Amman…… since language is a mean of communication between the people. It is evident that a problem occurs where some learners use “between” instead of “among” because “between” is used only when two people are communicating and “among” is used when many people are sharing the same idea” (Cheng & Robertson, 2012, p.23).


In summary, critical thinking is important for students studying English as a second language because logical critical thinking enables the female student to identify the best method to use speech and written words in English. English is a second language and the use of contrastive discourse markers can only be used appropriately when the student knows when, where, and how to apply them. Critical thinking and the appropriate use of a word such as ‘but’, ‘in contrast’, ‘however’, and ‘whatsoever’ could enable the students to write and speak appropriately to convey the intended meaning in a sentence who are the users of information.

Critical thinking is appropriate for students studying English as a second language because when they acquire the logical thinking style, it enables them to be able to create sentences that clearly convey meaning to the audience. The study provided information on the use of functional contrastive discourse markers such as but, however, instead, on the contrary, although, and yet. The study provides a synopsis of the role of CDMs in academic writing, use of CDMs among female students in Saudi Arabia, knowledge and quality of writing, the challenges that students experience using CDMs in academic writing, Pedagogy and Teaching, and the problem with the kind of assignments that are given to the students when leaning English and how to use contrastive discourse markers in English.

Argument steps Relevant literature
challenges that face Saudi female students when using CDMs
  • Making repeated mistakes
  • Poor writing skills
  • Lack of prior knowledge of English
  • Course materials that focus on semantics and vocabulary
  • Limited discourse markers in paragraphs
  • Errors on preposition markers
  • Lack of practice in the use of DM
  • Exams focus on written expressions only
  • The risk of losing marks because of the poor use of connectors.
  • Lack of use of writing skills using connectors and DMs
  • Focus on the knowledge imparted by teachers only
  • Teacher’s negative attitudes
Limited previous research on the challenges in the context of Saudi female students
The current context of CDMs by Saudi female students (current research on CDMs)
Lacked research on the use of contrastive discourse markers in written
Use of all contrastive discourse markers such as ‘but’, on the contrary, however, have been researched when used in writing
The key CDMs which Saudi Female EFL learners generally prefer to use in their academic writing So, because, and, cause and effect, illustrating, also, however, in addition, for example, but, in contrast, therefore, on the other hand, since, so, and such as
Type of markers and frequency, current research on CDMs However, but, on the contrary, anyway, although
The teaching styles adopted by teachers when focusing on the contrastive discourse markers Listening, comprehension, tests, instructions
Type of teaching styles and Current context of styles adopted by teachers Monologic lectures, reading, conversational instructions, listening to lectures with cues, and use of frame markers
Relevant theories and concept Procedural, conceptual, truth conditionality, Relevance theory, coherence, semantic compositionality, Coherence-relationship theory, lexicographic and conversational methods.
Relationship between knowledge of key CDMs and the quality of the students’ academic writing (does it affect or not). Relevant terminology
Relevant research in the field and how the present study extends or challenges the existing research.
Improves coherence, comprehension of what a statement is about, signaling the relationship between two statements, ability to classify statements into hypotaxis statements, and parataxis expressions. Identify speech situations, and understanding the weights of discourse markers.
Address a gap in previous research. Contrastive discourse markers can be used by a native and a nonnative speaker so long as they understand how to use them to convey meaning clearly, e.g. use of but, however even if, etc.
The appropriate teaching methods that can facilitate the appropriate use of CDMs current research on the appropriate teaching methods, contemporary debates, and related issues. Emphasis should be laid on repeated delivery of instructions.
Guided instructions
Frequent practice
Providing supporting evidence for a practical problem or issue “I’m not hungry. On the contrary, I’m starved” it clearly shows that the speaker negates S2 and affirms S1 to be correct” (Qin & Xiaoyu, 2013, p.21).


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