What Are Transition Words?

Transition words are like bridges between ideas—they help the reader travel from one idea to another. Additionally, sometimes we use transition phrases, made up of multiple words. You may remember some transition words or phrases from your grade school days: “For example,” “furthermore,” and “in conclusion” being some of the most common.

These phrases can help to show the relationships between ideas, showing how the writer’s thoughts connect or contrast.

How to Use Transition Words

Usually, transition words begin a sentence and are followed by a comma.

For example:

  • Additionally, no one understood the assignment.
  • On the other hand, the penguins were treated well.
  • For example, the apple fell near the tree.

Transition Words Serve Several Functions

  • Enhanced clarity: Transitions show the relationships between your ideas. Are you adding a new point? Highlighting a contrast? Transition words make those connections crystal clear.
  • Improved flow: Transitions act like stepping stones, guiding the reader from one sentence to the next effortlessly. They create a smooth and logical progression of thought.
  • Stronger arguments: By strategically placing transitions, you can emphasize the significance of your points and build a more persuasive argument.

Examples of Transition Words

Here’s a breakdown of some common categories, with examples.

Sequence: These transitions show the order in which things happen. They’re like road signs that guide the reader on a chronological journey.

  • first, second, third, next, now, then, thereafter, following this, at this time, at this point, later, subsequently, afterward, finally, in the end 

Addition: Need to add another point to your argument? These transitions smoothly introduce new information.

  • additionally, further, furthermore, plus, also, besides, moreover, in addition to, plus

Contrast: Highlighting opposing viewpoints is essential in persuasive writing. These transitions introduce contrasting ideas. 

  • however, yet, on the other hand, at the same time, conversely, but, on the contrary, by comparison, meanwhile, in contrast, while this may be true, nevertheless, granted

Similarity: Sometimes, you want to show how ideas are alike. These transitions connect similar points. 

  • similarly, likewise, in the same way, in like manner, in the same vein, equally

Result: Conveying cause and effect is key in many contexts. These transitions show how one idea leads to another. 

  • consequently, therefore, thus, hence, as a result, because of this

To show exception: Sometimes, you need to show how a thing or idea stands out. 

  • yet, still, however, nevertheless, in spite of, despite, of course, once in a while, but sometimes

Emphasis: Want to drive a point home? These transitions add weight and importance to your words. 

  • indeed, in fact, importantly, it is worth noting, naturally, surprisingly, undeniably, clearly, evidently, undeniably

Example: Illustrating your points with examples strengthens your writing. These transitions introduce specific instances. 

  • for example, for instance, to illustrate, to demonstrate, specifically, in particular

To repeat: You may need to mention something that you brought up earlier. These transitions signal that you’re repeating or recapping important information.

  • in brief, as I have said, as I have noted, as has been noted

Conclusion: Wrapping things up neatly is essential. These transitions signal the end of your argument or discussion. 

  • in conclusion, to summarize, in summation, finally, in closing, on the whole, in a word

Choosing the Right Transition Words

Here are some tips for choosing the right transition phrase:

  • Consider the relationship: What kind of connection exists between your ideas? Are they contrasting, sequential, or similar? Choose a transition that reflects that relationship.
  • Maintain sentence flow: Opt for transitions that create a smooth reading experience. Avoid clunky phrases that disrupt the rhythm of your sentences.
  • Variety is key: Don’t overuse the same transition word repeatedly. Explore the variety within each category to keep your writing engaging.

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