English grammar often has overlaps, and terminology is difficult to keep track of. Recently, I've been reading about disjuncts and discourse markers, which has led me to think that this might be one of those cases. Consider the two examples I have provided:

As you know, this case has been ongoing for several years.

In other words, the case is a dead end.

I have made these up, but they follow the same format as examples you might see online. In my opinion, both are disjuncts and discourse markers. The only difference I can identify is that discourse markers can be interjections — such as 'well' or 'right' — but disjuncts are typically adverbial, their purpose being to provide a general attitude/opinion regarding the sentence.

That said, are all disjuncts a common type of discourse marker?

  • 2
    I usually call all these examples of this sort of parenthetical 'pragmatic markers'. Doubtless some use the term 'disjunct' or, where applicable, 'sentence connector'. // The first here is audience-oriented, smoothing / encouraging / getting people on board (it can also be a bit of a sop when one is being perhaps too basic for some in the audience). The second is discourse-oriented, reformulatory (paraphrasing for added clarity). Feb 7, 2022 at 19:56
  • 1
    You can call these PPs 'disjuncts' if you like, but I wouldn't call them connective adjuncts (your 'sentence connectors'). Functionally they are adjuncts, more specifically supplements, loosely attached elements presenting non-integrated content.
    – BillJ
    Feb 8, 2022 at 11:04
  • Google ngrams are of little use here, 'disjunct' being far commoner than either 'pragmatic marker' or 'discourse marker', but few examples being other than false-positives. This 2017 paper by Furko indicates that neither analysis nor terminology is agreed. Far from it. Feb 12, 2022 at 15:54
  • To further add to this discussion, I would now argue that the second sentence is a conjunct, as it clearly follows on from a related sentence.
    – MJ Ada
    Feb 12, 2022 at 20:08


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.