Transitional Words and Phrases

One of your primary goals as a writer is to present ideas in a clear and understandable way. To help readers move through your complex ideas, you want to be intentional about how you structure your paper as a whole as well as how you form the individual paragraphs that comprise it. In order to think through the challenges of presenting your ideas articulately, logically, and in ways that seem natural to your readers, check out some of these resources: Developing a Thesis Statement , Paragraphing , and Developing Strategic Transitions: Writing that Establishes Relationships and Connections Between Ideas.

While clear writing is mostly achieved through the deliberate sequencing of your ideas across your entire paper, you can guide readers through the connections you’re making by using transitional words in individual sentences. Transitional words and phrases can create powerful links between your ideas and can help your reader understand your paper’s logic.

In what follows, we’ve included a list of frequently used transitional words and phrases that can help you establish how your various ideas relate to each other. We’ve divided these words and phrases into categories based on the common kinds of relationships writers establish between ideas.

Two recommendations: Use these transitions strategically by making sure that the word or phrase you’re choosing matches the logic of the relationship you’re emphasizing or the connection you’re making. All of these words and phrases have different meanings, nuances, and connotations, so before using a particular transitional word in your paper, be sure you understand its meaning and usage completely, and be sure that it’s the right match for your paper’s logic. Use these transitional words and phrases sparingly because if you use too many of them, your readers might feel like you are overexplaining connections that are already clear.

Categories of Transition Words and Phrases

Causation Chronology Combinations Contrast Example

Importance Location Similarity Clarification Concession

Conclusion Intensification Purpose Summary

Transitions to help establish some of the most common kinds of relationships

Causation– Connecting instigator(s) to consequence(s).

accordingly as a result and so because

consequently for that reason hence on account of

since therefore thus

Chronology– Connecting what issues in regard to when they occur.

after afterwards always at length during earlier following immediately in the meantime

later never next now once simultaneously so far sometimes

soon subsequently then this time until now when whenever while

Combinations Lists– Connecting numerous events. Part/Whole– Connecting numerous elements that make up something bigger.

additionally again also and, or, not as a result besides even more

finally first, firstly further furthermore in addition in the first place in the second place

last, lastly moreover next second, secondly, etc. too

Contrast– Connecting two things by focusing on their differences.

after all although and yet at the same time but

despite however in contrast nevertheless nonetheless notwithstanding

on the contrary on the other hand otherwise though yet

Example– Connecting a general idea to a particular instance of this idea.

as an illustration e.g., (from a Latin abbreviation for “for example”)

for example for instance specifically that is

to demonstrate to illustrate

Importance– Connecting what is critical to what is more inconsequential.

chiefly critically

foundationally most importantly

of less importance primarily

Location– Connecting elements according to where they are placed in relationship to each other.

above adjacent to below beyond

centrally here nearby neighboring on

opposite to peripherally there wherever

Similarity– Connecting to things by suggesting that they are in some way alike.

by the same token in like manner

in similar fashion here in the same way

likewise wherever

Other kinds of transitional words and phrases Clarification

i.e., (from a Latin abbreviation for “that is”) in other words

that is that is to say to clarify to explain

to put it another way to rephrase it

granted it is true

naturally of course

finally lastly

in conclusion in the end

to conclude

Intensification

in fact indeed no

of course surely to repeat

undoubtedly without doubt yes

for this purpose in order that

so that to that end

to this end

in brief in sum

in summary in short

to sum up to summarize

transitional paragraph in essay means

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Connecting Ideas Through Transitions

Using Transitional Words and Phrases

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Transition Words & Phrases | List & Examples

Published on May 29, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on August 23, 2023.

Transition words and phrases (also called linking words, connecting words, or transitional words) are used to link together different ideas in your text. They help the reader to follow your arguments by expressing the relationships between different sentences or parts of a sentence.

The proposed solution to the problem did not work. Therefore , we attempted a second solution. However , this solution was also unsuccessful.

For clear writing, it’s essential to understand the meaning of transition words and use them correctly.

Table of contents

When and how to use transition words, types and examples of transition words, common mistakes with transition words, other interesting articles.

Transition words commonly appear at the start of a new sentence or clause (followed by a comma ), serving to express how this clause relates to the previous one.

Transition words can also appear in the middle of a clause. It’s important to place them correctly to convey the meaning you intend.

Example text with and without transition words

The text below describes all the events it needs to, but it does not use any transition words to connect them. Because of this, it’s not clear exactly how these different events are related or what point the author is making by telling us about them.

If we add some transition words at appropriate moments, the text reads more smoothly and the relationship among the events described becomes clearer.

Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Consequently , France and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany. The Soviet Union initially worked with Germany in order to partition Poland. However , Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.

Don’t overuse transition words

While transition words are essential to clear writing, it’s possible to use too many of them. Consider the following example, in which the overuse of linking words slows down the text and makes it feel repetitive.

In this case the best way to fix the problem is to simplify the text so that fewer linking words are needed.

The key to using transition words effectively is striking the right balance. It is difficult to follow the logic of a text with no transition words, but a text where every sentence begins with a transition word can feel over-explained.

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There are four main types of transition word: additive, adversative, causal, and sequential. Within each category, words are divided into several more specific functions.

Remember that transition words with similar meanings are not necessarily interchangeable. It’s important to understand the meaning of all the transition words you use. If unsure, consult a dictionary to find the precise definition.

Additive transition words

Additive transition words introduce new information or examples. They can be used to expand upon, compare with, or clarify the preceding text.

Adversative transition words

Adversative transition words always signal a contrast of some kind. They can be used to introduce information that disagrees or contrasts with the preceding text.

Causal transition words

Causal transition words are used to describe cause and effect. They can be used to express purpose, consequence, and condition.

Sequential transition words

Sequential transition words indicate a sequence, whether it’s the order in which events occurred chronologically or the order you’re presenting them in your text. They can be used for signposting in academic texts.

Transition words are often used incorrectly. Make sure you understand the proper usage of transition words and phrases, and remember that words with similar meanings don’t necessarily work the same way grammatically.

Misused transition words can make your writing unclear or illogical. Your audience will be easily lost if you misrepresent the connections between your sentences and ideas.

Confused use of therefore

“Therefore” and similar cause-and-effect words are used to state that something is the result of, or follows logically from, the previous. Make sure not to use these words in a way that implies illogical connections.

  • We asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their work from 1 to 10. Therefore , the average satisfaction among participants was 7.5.

The use of “therefore” in this example is illogical: it suggests that the result of 7.5 follows logically from the question being asked, when in fact many other results were possible. To fix this, we simply remove the word “therefore.”

  • We asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their work from 1 to 10. The average satisfaction among participants was 7.5.

Starting a sentence with also , and , or so

While the words “also,” “and,” and “so” are used in academic writing, they are considered too informal when used at the start of a sentence.

  • Also , a second round of testing was carried out.

To fix this issue, we can either move the transition word to a different point in the sentence or use a more formal alternative.

  • A second round of testing was also carried out.
  • Additionally , a second round of testing was carried out.

Transition words creating sentence fragments

Words like “although” and “because” are called subordinating conjunctions . This means that they introduce clauses which cannot stand on their own. A clause introduced by one of these words should always follow or be followed by another clause in the same sentence.

The second sentence in this example is a fragment, because it consists only of the “although” clause.

  • Smith (2015) argues that the period should be reassessed. Although other researchers disagree.

We can fix this in two different ways. One option is to combine the two sentences into one using a comma. The other option is to use a different transition word that does not create this problem, like “however.”

  • Smith (2015) argues that the period should be reassessed, although other researchers disagree.
  • Smith (2015) argues that the period should be reassessed. However , other researchers disagree.

And vs. as well as

Students often use the phrase “ as well as ” in place of “and,” but its usage is slightly different. Using “and” suggests that the things you’re listing are of equal importance, while “as well as” introduces additional information that is less important.

  • Chapter 1 discusses some background information on Woolf, as well as presenting my analysis of To the Lighthouse .

In this example, the analysis is more important than the background information. To fix this mistake, we can use “and,” or we can change the order of the sentence so that the most important information comes first. Note that we add a comma before “as well as” but not before “and.”

  • Chapter 1 discusses some background information on Woolf and presents my analysis of To the Lighthouse .
  • Chapter 1 presents my analysis of To the Lighthouse , as well as discussing some background information on Woolf.

Note that in fixed phrases like “both x and y ,” you must use “and,” not “as well as.”

  • Both my results as well as my interpretations are presented below.
  • Both my results and my interpretations are presented below.

Use of and/or

The combination of transition words “and/or” should generally be avoided in academic writing. It makes your text look messy and is usually unnecessary to your meaning.

First consider whether you really do mean “and/or” and not just “and” or “or.” If you are certain that you need both, it’s best to separate them to make your meaning as clear as possible.

  • Participants were asked whether they used the bus and/or the train.
  • Participants were asked whether they used the bus, the train, or both.

Archaic transition words

Words like “hereby,” “therewith,” and most others formed by the combination of “here,” “there,” or “where” with a preposition are typically avoided in modern academic writing. Using them makes your writing feel old-fashioned and strained and can sometimes obscure your meaning.

  • Poverty is best understood as a disease. Hereby , we not only see that it is hereditary, but acknowledge its devastating effects on a person’s health.

These words should usually be replaced with a more explicit phrasing expressing how the current statement relates to the preceding one.

  • Poverty is best understood as a disease. Understanding it as such , we not only see that it is hereditary, but also acknowledge its devastating effects on a person’s health.

Using a paraphrasing tool for clear writing

With the use of certain tools, you can make your writing clear. One of these tools is a paraphrasing tool . One thing the tool does is help your sentences make more sense. It has different modes where it checks how your text can be improved. For example, automatically adding transition words where needed.

If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or writing rules make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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33 Transition Words and Phrases

Transitional terms give writers the opportunity to prepare readers for a new idea, connecting the previous sentence to the next one.

Many transitional words are nearly synonymous: words that broadly indicate that “this follows logically from the preceding” include accordingly, therefore, and consequently . Words that mean “in addition to” include moreover, besides, and further . Words that mean “contrary to what was just stated” include however, nevertheless , and nonetheless .

as a result : THEREFORE : CONSEQUENTLY

The executive’s flight was delayed and they accordingly arrived late.

in or by way of addition : FURTHERMORE

The mountain has many marked hiking trails; additionally, there are several unmarked trails that lead to the summit.

at a later or succeeding time : SUBSEQUENTLY, THEREAFTER

Afterward, she got a promotion.

even though : ALTHOUGH

She appeared as a guest star on the show, albeit briefly.

in spite of the fact that : even though —used when making a statement that differs from or contrasts with a statement you have just made

They are good friends, although they don't see each other very often.

in addition to what has been said : MOREOVER, FURTHERMORE

I can't go, and besides, I wouldn't go if I could.

as a result : in view of the foregoing : ACCORDINGLY

The words are often confused and are consequently misused.

in a contrasting or opposite way —used to introduce a statement that contrasts with a previous statement or presents a differing interpretation or possibility

Large objects appear to be closer. Conversely, small objects seem farther away.

used to introduce a statement that is somehow different from what has just been said

These problems are not as bad as they were. Even so, there is much more work to be done.

used as a stronger way to say "though" or "although"

I'm planning to go even though it may rain.

in addition : MOREOVER

I had some money to invest, and, further, I realized that the risk was small.

in addition to what precedes : BESIDES —used to introduce a statement that supports or adds to a previous statement

These findings seem plausible. Furthermore, several studies have confirmed them.

because of a preceding fact or premise : for this reason : THEREFORE

He was a newcomer and hence had no close friends here.

from this point on : starting now

She announced that henceforth she would be running the company.

in spite of that : on the other hand —used when you are saying something that is different from or contrasts with a previous statement

I'd like to go; however, I'd better not.

as something more : BESIDES —used for adding information to a statement

The city has the largest population in the country and in addition is a major shipping port.

all things considered : as a matter of fact —used when making a statement that adds to or strengthens a previous statement

He likes to have things his own way; indeed, he can be very stubborn.

for fear that —often used after an expression denoting fear or apprehension

He was concerned lest anyone think that he was guilty.

in addition : ALSO —often used to introduce a statement that adds to and is related to a previous statement

She is an acclaimed painter who is likewise a sculptor.

at or during the same time : in the meantime

You can set the table. Meanwhile, I'll start making dinner.

BESIDES, FURTHER : in addition to what has been said —used to introduce a statement that supports or adds to a previous statement

It probably wouldn't work. Moreover, it would be very expensive to try it.

in spite of that : HOWEVER

It was a predictable, but nevertheless funny, story.

in spite of what has just been said : NEVERTHELESS

The hike was difficult, but fun nonetheless.

without being prevented by (something) : despite—used to say that something happens or is true even though there is something that might prevent it from happening or being true

Notwithstanding their youth and inexperience, the team won the championship.

if not : or else

Finish your dinner. Otherwise, you won't get any dessert.

more correctly speaking —used to introduce a statement that corrects what you have just said

We can take the car, or rather, the van.

in spite of that —used to say that something happens or is true even though there is something that might prevent it from happening or being true

I tried again and still I failed.

by that : by that means

He signed the contract, thereby forfeiting his right to the property.

for that reason : because of that

This tablet is thin and light and therefore very convenient to carry around.

immediately after that

The committee reviewed the documents and thereupon decided to accept the proposal.

because of this or that : HENCE, CONSEQUENTLY

This detergent is highly concentrated and thus you will need to dilute it.

while on the contrary —used to make a statement that describes how two people, groups, etc., are different

Some of these species have flourished, whereas others have struggled.

NEVERTHELESS, HOWEVER —used to introduce a statement that adds something to a previous statement and usually contrasts with it in some way

It was pouring rain out, yet his clothes didn’t seem very wet.

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Transitions

What this handout is about.

In this crazy, mixed-up world of ours, transitions glue our ideas and our essays together. This handout will introduce you to some useful transitional expressions and help you employ them effectively.

The function and importance of transitions

In both academic writing and professional writing, your goal is to convey information clearly and concisely, if not to convert the reader to your way of thinking. Transitions help you to achieve these goals by establishing logical connections between sentences, paragraphs, and sections of your papers. In other words, transitions tell readers what to do with the information you present to them. Whether single words, quick phrases, or full sentences, they function as signs that tell readers how to think about, organize, and react to old and new ideas as they read through what you have written.

Transitions signal relationships between ideas—relationships such as: “Another example coming up—stay alert!” or “Here’s an exception to my previous statement” or “Although this idea appears to be true, here’s the real story.” Basically, transitions provide the reader with directions for how to piece together your ideas into a logically coherent argument. Transitions are not just verbal decorations that embellish your paper by making it sound or read better. They are words with particular meanings that tell the reader to think and react in a particular way to your ideas. In providing the reader with these important cues, transitions help readers understand the logic of how your ideas fit together.

Signs that you might need to work on your transitions

How can you tell whether you need to work on your transitions? Here are some possible clues:

  • Your instructor has written comments like “choppy,” “jumpy,” “abrupt,” “flow,” “need signposts,” or “how is this related?” on your papers.
  • Your readers (instructors, friends, or classmates) tell you that they had trouble following your organization or train of thought.
  • You tend to write the way you think—and your brain often jumps from one idea to another pretty quickly.
  • You wrote your paper in several discrete “chunks” and then pasted them together.
  • You are working on a group paper; the draft you are working on was created by pasting pieces of several people’s writing together.

Organization

Since the clarity and effectiveness of your transitions will depend greatly on how well you have organized your paper, you may want to evaluate your paper’s organization before you work on transitions. In the margins of your draft, summarize in a word or short phrase what each paragraph is about or how it fits into your analysis as a whole. This exercise should help you to see the order of and connection between your ideas more clearly.

If after doing this exercise you find that you still have difficulty linking your ideas together in a coherent fashion, your problem may not be with transitions but with organization. For help in this area (and a more thorough explanation of the “reverse outlining” technique described in the previous paragraph), please see the Writing Center’s handout on organization .

How transitions work

The organization of your written work includes two elements: (1) the order in which you have chosen to present the different parts of your discussion or argument, and (2) the relationships you construct between these parts. Transitions cannot substitute for good organization, but they can make your organization clearer and easier to follow. Take a look at the following example:

El Pais , a Latin American country, has a new democratic government after having been a dictatorship for many years. Assume that you want to argue that El Pais is not as democratic as the conventional view would have us believe.

One way to effectively organize your argument would be to present the conventional view and then to provide the reader with your critical response to this view. So, in Paragraph A you would enumerate all the reasons that someone might consider El Pais highly democratic, while in Paragraph B you would refute these points. The transition that would establish the logical connection between these two key elements of your argument would indicate to the reader that the information in paragraph B contradicts the information in paragraph A. As a result, you might organize your argument, including the transition that links paragraph A with paragraph B, in the following manner:

Paragraph A: points that support the view that El Pais’s new government is very democratic.

Transition: Despite the previous arguments, there are many reasons to think that El Pais’s new government is not as democratic as typically believed.

Paragraph B: points that contradict the view that El Pais’s new government is very democratic.

In this case, the transition words “Despite the previous arguments,” suggest that the reader should not believe paragraph A and instead should consider the writer’s reasons for viewing El Pais’s democracy as suspect.

As the example suggests, transitions can help reinforce the underlying logic of your paper’s organization by providing the reader with essential information regarding the relationship between your ideas. In this way, transitions act as the glue that binds the components of your argument or discussion into a unified, coherent, and persuasive whole.

Types of transitions

Now that you have a general idea of how to go about developing effective transitions in your writing, let us briefly discuss the types of transitions your writing will use.

The types of transitions available to you are as diverse as the circumstances in which you need to use them. A transition can be a single word, a phrase, a sentence, or an entire paragraph. In each case, it functions the same way: First, the transition either directly summarizes the content of a preceding sentence, paragraph, or section or implies such a summary (by reminding the reader of what has come before). Then, it helps the reader anticipate or comprehend the new information that you wish to present.

  • Transitions between sections: Particularly in longer works, it may be necessary to include transitional paragraphs that summarize for the reader the information just covered and specify the relevance of this information to the discussion in the following section.
  • Transitions between paragraphs: If you have done a good job of arranging paragraphs so that the content of one leads logically to the next, the transition will highlight a relationship that already exists by summarizing the previous paragraph and suggesting something of the content of the paragraph that follows. A transition between paragraphs can be a word or two (however, for example, similarly), a phrase, or a sentence. Transitions can be at the end of the first paragraph, at the beginning of the second paragraph, or in both places.
  • Transitions within paragraphs: As with transitions between sections and paragraphs, transitions within paragraphs act as cues by helping readers to anticipate what is coming before they read it. Within paragraphs, transitions tend to be single words or short phrases.

Transitional expressions

Effectively constructing each transition often depends upon your ability to identify words or phrases that will indicate for the reader the kind of logical relationships you want to convey. The table below should make it easier for you to find these words or phrases. Whenever you have trouble finding a word, phrase, or sentence to serve as an effective transition, refer to the information in the table for assistance. Look in the left column of the table for the kind of logical relationship you are trying to express. Then look in the right column of the table for examples of words or phrases that express this logical relationship.

Keep in mind that each of these words or phrases may have a slightly different meaning. Consult a dictionary or writer’s handbook if you are unsure of the exact meaning of a word or phrase.

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Transitions help your readers move between ideas within a paragraph, between paragraphs, or between sections of your argument. When you are deciding how to transition from one idea to the next, your goal should be to help readers see how your ideas are connected—and how those ideas connect to the big picture.

One useful way to do this is to start with old information and then introduce new information. When you begin a sentence or a paragraph with information that is familiar to your readers, you help your readers make connections between your ideas. For example, consider the difference between these two pairs of sentences below:  

Sentence pair #1: Ineffective Transition  

Some experts argue that focusing on individual actions to combat climate change takes the focus away from the collective action required to keep carbon levels from rising. Change will not be effected, say some others, unless individual actions raise the necessary awareness.

While a reader can see the connection between the sentences above, it’s not immediately clear that the second sentence is providing a counterargument to the first. In the example below, key “old information” is repeated in the second sentence to help readers quickly see the connection. This makes the sequence of ideas easier to follow.  

Sentence pair #2: Effective Transition  

Some experts argue that focusing on individual actions to combat climate change takes the focus away from the collective action required to keep carbon levels from rising. Other experts argue that individual actions are key to raising the awareness necessary to effect change.

You can use this same technique to create clear transitions between paragraphs. Here’s an example:

Some experts argue that focusing on individual actions to combat climate change takes the focus away from the collective action required to keep carbon levels from rising. Other experts argue that individual actions are key to raising the awareness necessary to effect change. According to Annie Lowery, individual actions are important to making social change because when individuals take action, they can change values, which can lead to more people becoming invested in fighting climate change. She writes, “Researchers believe that these kinds of household-led trends can help avert climate catastrophe, even if government and corporate actions are far more important” (Lowery).

So, what’s an individual household supposed to do?

The repetition of the word “household” in the new paragraph helps readers see the connection between what has come before (a discussion of whether household actions matter) and what is about to come (a proposal for what types of actions households can take to combat climate change).

Sometimes, transitional words can help readers see how ideas are connected. But it’s not enough to just include a “therefore,” “moreover,” “also,” or “in addition.” You should choose these words carefully to show your readers what kind of connection you are making between your ideas.

To decide which transitional word to use, start by identifying the relationship between your ideas. For example, you might be

  • making a comparison or showing a contrast Transitional words that compare and contrast include also, in the same way, similarly, in contrast, yet, on the one hand, on the other hand. But before you signal comparison, ask these questions: Do your readers need another example of the same thing? Is there a new nuance in this next point that distinguishes it from the previous example? For those relationships between ideas, you might try this type of transition: While x may appear the same, it actually raises a new question in a slightly different way.
  • expressing agreement or disagreement When you are making an argument, you need to signal to readers where you stand in relation to other scholars and critics. You may agree with another person’s claim, you may want to concede some part of the argument even if you don’t agree with everything, or you may disagree. Transitional words that signal agreement, concession, and disagreement include however, nevertheless, actually, still, despite, admittedly, still, on the contrary, nonetheless .
  • showing cause and effect Transitional phrases that show cause and effect include therefore, hence, consequently, thus, so. Before you choose one of these words, make sure that what you are about to illustrate is really a causal link. Novice writers tend to add therefore and hence when they aren’t sure how to transition; you should reserve these words for when they accurately signal the progression of your ideas.
  • explaining or elaborating Transitions can signal to readers that you are going to expand on a point that you have just made or explain something further. Transitional words that signal explanation or elaboration include in other words, for example, for instance, in particular, that is, to illustrate, moreover .
  • drawing conclusions You can use transitions to signal to readers that you are moving from the body of your argument to your conclusions. Before you use transitional words to signal conclusions, consider whether you can write a stronger conclusion by creating a transition that shows the relationship between your ideas rather than by flagging the paragraph simply as a conclusion. Transitional words that signal a conclusion include in conclusion , as a result, ultimately, overall— but strong conclusions do not necessarily have to include those phrases.

If you’re not sure which transitional words to use—or whether to use one at all—see if you can explain the connection between your paragraphs or sentence either out loud or in the margins of your draft.

For example, if you write a paragraph in which you summarize physician Atul Gawande’s argument about the value of incremental care, and then you move on to a paragraph that challenges those ideas, you might write down something like this next to the first paragraph: “In this paragraph I summarize Gawande’s main claim.” Then, next to the second paragraph, you might write, “In this paragraph I present a challenge to Gawande’s main claim.” Now that you have identified the relationship between those two paragraphs, you can choose the most effective transition between them. Since the second paragraph in this example challenges the ideas in the first, you might begin with something like “but,” or “however,” to signal that shift for your readers.  

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Transitions

Transitions between paragraphs.

While within-paragraph transitions serve the purpose of alerting readers of upcoming shifts in perspective or voice , between-paragraph transitions serve the unique purpose of alerting readers of upcoming shifts in argument or idea . Because one of the core rules of effective paragraph-writing is limiting each paragraph to only one controlling idea (see the Basic Paragraph Resource Center lesson), shifts in argument or idea only tend to happen between paragraphs within the academic essay.

There are literally dozens of transition words to choose from when shifting focus from one idea to another. There are transition words that show cause and effect, contrast, similarity, emphasis, and even sequence. To give you a general idea of the options available to you, below are examples of just a few of those categories and word combinations:

This is a table of Transition Words in English. Transition Words of Emphasis: undoubtedly, unquestionably, obviously, especially, clearly, importantly, absolutely, definitely, without a doubt, indeed, and it should be noted. Transition Words of Addition: along with, apart from this, moreover, furthermore, also, too, as well as that, besides, in addition. Transition Words of Contrast: unlike, nevertheless, on the other hand, nonetheless, contrary to, whereas, alternatively, conversely, even so, differing from. Transition Words of Order: following, at this time, previously, finally, subsequently, above all, before.

With so many available options, you may be wondering how you will ever be able to figure out which word or set of words would work best where.

Guiding Questions

While there are many approaches you could take, let’s take a look at a few basic guiding questions you should be asking yourself as you look over your own essay and create your own between-paragraph transitions:

  • What is the purpose of this paragraph? Is it to introduce, inform, persuade, address an opposing viewpoint, revisit or add emphasis to already discussed ideas?
  • Does the idea I’m sharing in this paragraph relate to or support any other idea or argument shared within the essay up to this point?
  • Does the idea I’m sharing in this paragraph present a different viewpoint or idea?
  • Is the idea I’m sharing separate from or dependent upon other ideas being shared within the essay?

Your answer to these four basic questions should help you more easily identify which categories of transition words might work best at the beginning of each of your paragraphs.

A Couple Tips to Get Started

Selecting proper transitions takes time and practice. To get you started on the right foot though, here are a couple tips to point you in the right direction:

  • Your body paragraphs would likely benefit most from the Addition and Order transition word categories as they tend to string together related or culminating ideas or arguments
  • Your concluding paragraph would likely benefit most from the Emphasis word category as one of its primary objectives is to revisit and re-emphasize major ideas presented in the essay

To see the power of an appropriately-used transition in action, let’s consider the following prompt question example. Imagine you were asked to write an essay based on the following prompt:

  • Do you believe that people have a specific “calling” in life? Why or why not?

A possible thesis statement (or answer to that prompt question) might be::

  • My spiritual study, secular study, and my own life experience has taught me that life callings tend to emerge not just once, but perhaps even multiple times, at crossway of spiritual gifts and need in the world.

Ponder and Record

  • Based on the thesis statement above, how many body paragraphs do you think this essay will need to have?
  • What controlling ideas (or arguments) might each body paragraph be engaging?
  • Are these arguments in any way related to each other or building on each other?
  • How might these body paragraphs benefit from transition words in the Addition or Order categories?

Body Paragraph Transitions

In answering the questions above, you likely realized that three body paragraphs will be required in this essay based on its current thesis statement. One body paragraph will focus on “spiritual” findings, another on “secular,” and then finally one supported by “personal experience.”

You also likely realized that the Addition transition word category cannot be applied to the first body paragraph as no arguments have been made yet that can be added to. This means that the first body paragraph would likely benefit most from a transition word selected from the Order category. An example of this in application might look like the following:

Body Paragraph #1 Topic Sentence

Above all, my spiritual study of the scriptures as well as the words of latter-day prophets have supported my belief that life callings emerge at the intersection of spiritual gifts and need in the world.

  • What does the selection of the transitional phrase “above all” suggest about the controlling idea that will be discussed in this paragraph?
  • What does it suggest about the ideas that will follow in subsequent paragraphs?

To see more “between-paragraph” transition words in action, let’s look at what the next body paragraph topic sentence might look like with the added benefit of transition words:

Body Paragraph #2 Topic Sentence

In addition to my spiritual study, my secular study of the “life calling” also supports this idea that life callings emerge again and again at the intersection of spiritual gifts and need in the world.

  • What is the transitional phrase used in the topic sentence above?
  • Which list is the transitional phrase “in addition” drawn from?
  • What purpose does it serve in this paragraph? How does it add value?

To really emphasize the value-add of between-paragraph transitions, let’s look at one final body paragraph example:

Body Paragraph #3 Topic Sentence

Finally, my own life experience has taught me that the concept of the “life calling” truly does lie at the intersection of gifts and need in the world.

  • Which list is the transitional phrase “finally” drawn from?

Concluding Paragraph

As mentioned above, the category of transition words that would most benefit your concluding paragraph is Emphasis . Since one of the main purposes of the concluding paragraph is to revisit ideas shared within the essay, transition words that express emphasis would be a natural fit and value-add. To see the power of this addition, feel free to examine the example below:

Concluding Paragraph Example

Without a doubt, I have come to realize over the years that a life calling is so much more than simply acting on a single moment in time— it is developing gifts and talents and constantly reassessing what value-add those gifts and talents can bring to the world at that particular moment.

  • What transitional phrase is used in the above concluding paragraph topic sentence?
  • How does the addition of “without a doubt” add emphasis to the conclusion? How does its addition help fulfill one of the concluding paragraph’s primary purposes?

Within-paragraph and between-paragraph transitions are truly the best ways to alert readers to upcoming changes in perspective and voice as well as argument or idea. As you write and then review your own writing, really try to consider which transition words would best help you create the most powerful and organized experience for your readers.

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Developing your essay

  • Who is your audience?
  • Balancing content and audience expectations
  • 1a. Creativity in academic writing
  • 2. What focus will you take in the work?
  • 3b. Sample arguments
  • 4a. Planning the paper
  • 4b. Creating strong titles
  • 4c. Introductory paragraphs
  • 4d. Body paragraphs
  • 4e. Transitional expressions and transitional sentences

Transitional expressions

Transitional sentences.

  • 4f. Body paragraph checklist
  • 4g. Concluding paragraphs

Transitions are words, phrases, or sentences that connect ideas, sentences, or paragraphs. If you’ve received feedback that your writing is “choppy”, which means there isn’t a smooth flow between ideas, or that your reader struggled to understand the connections between ideas or paragraphs, try incorporating transitions into your writing.

Transitional expressions are words or phrases that indicate relationships between ideas and/or sentences. Transitions can signal many different connections, such as an addition (e.g., as well), a comparison (e.g., in contrast), or a conclusion (e.g., finally). For example, consider the next two sentences: Royal Roads University is a national historic site. People visit the campus for many different reasons. It isn't immediately clear how those ideas are connected, but inserting a transition makes the connection more obvious:

  • Royal Roads University is a national historic site, but people visit the campus for many different reasons (“but” indicates that people visit the site for reasons other than the national heritage status).
  • Royal Roads University is a national historic site, and people visit the campus for many different reasons (“and” indicates that the reasons relate to the site’s historical status).

For a list of transitional expressions that are organized by the function of the expressions, please visit Transitions Guide (APA Style). For a more in-depth description of common transitions and their functions within sentences, please visit Transitions (ESL) (The Writing Centre at UNC-Chapel Hill).

Transitions undoubtedly improve the logical connections between ideas and sentences; however, they can also signal the connections between paragraphs or sections of a document.

Transitional sentences typically appear at the end of a paragraph or section and indicate the focus of the next paragraph. If you read the last sentence of the previous paragraph, you’ll see that the second phrase of the sentence introduced you to the focus of this section.

If you’re struggling to include transitional sentences in your paragraphs, consider how you would make the connections if you presented the information verbally. Presenters usually map the connections between sections of a presentation to ensure a smooth shift between slides or topics because those transitions are essential to the audience understanding the presentation. Similarly, transitional sentences help readers move between paragraphs or sections. If you’re feeling stuck when writing a transitional sentence, think about how you could verbally explain the connection between the paragraphs to an audience. It may be helpful to speak the words out loud to hear how they sound. Once you have a clear description of the connection, present that information in your transitional sentence.

One approach to create transitions between paragraphs is to use keywords:

For planning templates that include fields for transitional sentences, please visit Finalize Your Document Plan and Plan Writing with PowerPoint .

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26 Transitional Words and Phrases

Transitional words and phrases.

Transitional words and phrases enable your reader to understand how one idea relates to the previous idea. Transitions form logical connections between ideas, and they strengthen the organization of these ideas. Transitions signal the order of ideas, highlight relationships, unify concepts, and let readers know what’s coming next or remind them about what’s already been covered.

When instructors or peers comment that your writing is choppy, abrupt, or needs to “flow better”, those are some signals that you might need to work on building some better transitions into your writing.

Compare the sample paragraphs with and without transitions; notice how the paragraph with the transitions flows better.

transitional paragraph in essay means

Meaning and Usage of Common Transitions

Effectively incorporating transitions often depends upon your ability to identify words or phrases that will indicate for the reader the kind of logical relationships or connections you want to convey.

View the chart below or check out this website to see how to use different transitions and conjunctions.

transitional paragraph in essay means

Grammar Tip

When your teachers talk about “transitional elements,” they are probably referring specifically to “conjunctive adverbs”:  therefore, however, additionally, finally, etc. These types of transitional elements link ideas, but they do not join sentences.

Typically, these transitions can only be placed

1. At the beginning of a sentence:

I studied hard. Consequently , I passed the test.

2. After a semi-colon that joins two related sentences

I studied hard; consequently , I passed the test.

Remember that a comma is needed after the transitional element to offset it from the main sentence clause.

Transitions to Show Order of Importance

Transitions can be used to show order of importance, which means arranging your ideas from most to least important or vice versa. Sometimes you may want to end with the most important idea so that it acts as the climax at the end of the paragraph or essay.

transitional paragraph in essay means

Transitions to Show Additional Support

Transitions can be used to show additional support for an idea.

transitional paragraph in essay means

Transitions to Introduce Examples

The simplest way to tell a reader that an example will follow is to say so using a transitional word or phrase.

transitional paragraph in essay means

Transitions to Show Time Order

Transitions can be used to indicate chronological order, which means to arrange ideas in order from present to past or from past to present. Similarly, transitions can be used to show a sequence of events, which means to arrange ideas in the order that they happen.

transitional paragraph in essay means

Transitions to Show Similarity

Transitions can be used to compare ideas. In other words, transitions can connect ideas by suggesting that they are in some ways alike.

transitional paragraph in essay means

Transitions to Show Contrast

Transitions can be used to contrast ideas. In other words, transitions can connect ideas by suggesting that they are in some way different.

transitional paragraph in essay means

Transitions to Summarize or Conclude

Transitions are also used to introduce a summary or conclusion in a paragraph or essay.

transitional paragraph in essay means

Transitioning Between Paragraphs and Sections

It’s important to consider how to emphasize the relationships not just between sentences but also between paragraphs in your essay.

transitional paragraph in essay means

Use Signposts

Signposts are basic transitional words or phrases that indicate where you are in the process of organizing an idea. For example, signposts might indicate that you are introducing a new concept, that you are summarizing an idea, or that you are concluding your thoughts.

Be careful not to overuse these types of transitions in your writing. Instead, think of more creative ways to let your readers know where they are situated within the ideas presented in your paragraph or essay.

You might say, “The first problem with this practice is….”. Or you might say, “The next issue to consider is…..”. Or you might say, “Some final thoughts about this topic are….”.

Use Forward-Looking Sentences at the End of Paragraphs

Sometimes, as you conclude a paragraph, you might want to give your readers a hint about what’s coming next.

This transitional strategy can be tricky to employ. Make sure that the conclusion of your paragraph doesn’t sound like you’re leaving your readers hanging with the introduction of a completely new or unrelated topic.

transitional paragraph in essay means

Use Backward-Looking Sentences at the Beginning of Paragraphs

Rather than concluding a paragraph by looking forward, you might instead begin a paragraph by looking back.

transitional paragraph in essay means

Sample Essay Showing Placement and Type of Transitions

Introductory paragraph.

transitional paragraph in essay means

First Body Paragraph

transitional paragraph in essay means

Second Body Paragraph

transitional paragraph in essay means

Third Body Paragraph

transitional paragraph in essay means

Concluding Paragraph

transitional paragraph in essay means

Evaluate Your Use of Transitions

Remember to include enough transitions so the reader can easily follow the flow of your ideas, but do not overuse the same transitions to the point where they become redundant.

transitional paragraph in essay means

Learning Check

Drag the appropriate transition into its correct spot in the paragraphs.

Additional Resources

To learn more about transitional elements

  • watch this video
  • read about coherence in Chapter 8.4 of Writing for Success [1]
  • review the list of transitions and their meanings at the UW-Madison Writing Centre
  • try this interactive online activity on Connectives
  • Writing for Success is adapted from a work produced and distributed under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA) in 2011 by a publisher who has requested that they and the original author not receive attribution. This adapted edition is produced by the University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing through the eLearning Support Initiative. ↵

CS 050: Academic Writing and Grammar Copyright © by Confederation College Communications Department and Paterson Library Commons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Module 3: Writing Essentials

Paragraphs and paragraph transitions, learning objective.

  • Describe techniques for effective use of transitions in paragraphs

When to Paragraph

How do you know when “enough is enough” with a paragraph? How do you know when you have enough information in one paragraph and have to start a new one? And how much is too much? There is no simple answer. Paragraphing conventions differ depending on the task and the genre. For example, digital writing typically requires shorter paragraphs with multiple short paragraphs on the screen.

As you write, deal with your paragraph length as part of your revision process. Find places where the information shifts in focus, and put a paragraph break in those places. You can do your best to paragraph as you draft, but know that you’ll address paragraphing more during the revision process.

Overall Paragraph Structure of an Essay

Often, essays are constructed in a format that looks something like this outline shown below.  Depending on the purpose of your writing assignment, this format may vary depending on the rhetorical style. You are probably familiar with this general format for the five-paragraph essay. You can build off of this basic structure to write essays that are not too rigid or overly structured even if people dismiss the five-paragraph essay. As you write longer essays in college and possibly for your job, five paragraphs may not be enough for all of your ideas, but this structure works for organizing your ideas. N otice the way that paragraphs separate each topic and provide supporting evidence to the topic sentence.

  • Background information on topic
  • Overall point of view of the topic (thesis)
  • Overview of components to be discussed (structure)
  • Topic sentence outlining first component
  • Sentences giving explanations and providing evidence to support topic sentence
  • Concluding sentence – link to next paragraph
  • Topic sentence outlining second component
  • Sentences giving explanations and providing evidence to back topic sentence
  • Topic sentence outlining third component
  • Summary of the main points of the body
  • Restatement of the main point of view
  • Justification/evaluation (if required by task)

Can you determine the best order for these paragraphs? What clues can you use to figure out the best arrangement? Pay close attention to the first sentences of each section.

Three architects looking at a blueprint.

Figure 1 . Just as architects carefully construct buildings, a well-structured essay will help readers to clearly follow and understand your ideas.

Linking Paragraphs: Transitions

In writing traditional five-paragraph essays, you may have been taught very basic transition sentences: “My first point is,” “In conclusion,” etc.

In college, your professors will expect less formulaic writing. Strong transition words or phrases that indicate linkages in ideas are the key to taking your writing to the next level and moving from the formulaic to the organic.

When writing your argument, you need to lead your readers from one idea to the next, showing how those ideas are logically linked. Transition words and phrases help you keep your paragraphs and groups of paragraphs logically connected for a reader.

Below are some examples of transition words to help as you transition both within paragraphs and from one paragraph to the next.

Transition Words and Phrases

We divide these transition words and phrases into four categories. Click on the arrows below to learn more about additive, adversative, causal, and sequential transition.

Making Connections

In general, if you feel your readers may have a hard time making connections, providing transition words (e.g., “due to” or “on the other hand”) can help lead them. Transitions between paragraphs may appear at the end of the first paragraph, at the beginning of the second paragraph, or in both places.  If the transition introduces new ideas, it usually appears at the beginning of the second paragraph.

Below is a chart of transition words that are useful for linking ideas within a paragraph. Click on the arrows to read more about transitions that can help guide your reader.

Select the most appropriate transitions in the following passage:

Proofreading Your Writing

From sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, your ideas should flow into each other smoothly and without interruptions or delays. If someone tells you that your paper sounds choppy or jumps around, you probably have a problem with transitions. Compare these two sentences:

  • Proofreading is an important step in the writing process. Read your paper. You can say it aloud to catch errors. Use spell check on your computer.
  • Proofreading is an important step in the writing process. One technique is to read your paper aloud, which will help you catch errors you might overlook when reading silently. Another strategy is to use spell check on your computer.

Both sentences contain the same information. The second example, however, has better transitions between ideas. Transition words and phrases can make a huge difference in the readability of your writing. If you have to pick one aspect of your writing to focus on during the revision process, consider focusing on adding effective transitions to help your reader follow your thinking.

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12 Transitions

transitional paragraph in essay means

Developing Relationships between Ideas

You have a main idea (topic sentence) and supporting ideas. Now, how can you be sure that your readers will understand the relationships between them? How are the ideas connected to each other? One way to emphasize these relationships is through the use of clear transitions between ideas. Good transitions build a bridge between your ideas. They form logical connections between the ideas presented in an essay or paragraph, and they give readers clues that reveal how you want them to think about the topics presented.

Why are Transitions Important?

Transitions, which are often called signal words or phrases, help to give your writing coherence and cohesion. Useful transitions signal the order of ideas, highlight relationships, unify concepts, and let readers know what’s coming next or remind them about what’s already been written. Good writers use transitions both within paragraphs (sentence-level transitions) and between paragraphs to help their readers understand how their ideas are connected. In the next sections, we will consider the importance of transitions at the sentence level and transitions between paragraphs.

Sentence-Level Transitions

transitional paragraph in essay means

Writers often use signal words or phrases to emphasize relationships between one sentence and another. Think of this as a “something old, something new” approach, meaning that the idea behind a transition is to introduce something new  while connecting it to  something old  from an earlier point in the essay or paragraph. Here are some examples of ways that writers use connecting words (underlined below)  to show connections between ideas in adjacent sentences:

To Show Similarity

When he was growing up, Aaron’s mother taught him to say “please” and “thank you” to show appreciation and respect for others. In the same way , Aaron has tried to teach the importance of manners to his own children.

Other connecting words that show similarity include  also ,  similarly , and  likewise .

To Show Contrast

Some scientists take the existence of black holes for granted;  however , in 2014, a physicist at the University of North Carolina claimed to have mathematically proven that they do not exist.

Other connecting words that show contrast include  in spite of ,  on the other hand ,  in contrast , and  yet .

To Exemplify

The cost of college tuition is higher than ever, so students are becoming increasingly motivated to keep costs as low as possible.  For example , a rising number of students are signing up to spend their first two years at a less costly community college before transferring to a more expensive four-year school to finish their degrees.

Other connecting words that show example include  for instance ,  specifically , and  to illustrate .

To Show Cause and Effect

Where previously painters had to grind and mix their own dry pigments with linseed oil inside their studios, in the 1840s, new innovations in pigments allowed paints to be premixed in tubes.  Consequently , this new technology facilitated the practice of painting outdoors and was a crucial tool for impressionist painters, such as Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, and Cassatt.

Other connecting words that show cause and effect include  therefore ,  so , and  thus .

To Show Additional Support

When choosing a good trail bike, experts recommend 120–140 millimeters of suspension travel; that’s the amount that the frame or fork is able to flex or compress.  Additionally , they recommend a 67–69 degree head-tube angle, as a steeper head-tube angle allows for faster turning and climbing.

Other connecting words that show additional support include  also ,  besides, equally important , and  in addition .

For more signal words and phrases, consult  Transition Words & Phrases ~ Useful Lists .

A Word of Caution

Signal words and phrases can be helpful to signal a shift in ideas within a paragraph. But it’s also important to understand that these types of transitions shouldn’t be too frequent within a paragraph. Here are some examples to help you see the difference between transitions that feel like they occur naturally and transitions that seem forced and make the paragraph awkward to read:

Too Many Transitions (Awkward):  The Impressionist painters of the late 19th century are well known for their visible brush strokes, for their ability to convey a realistic sense of light, and for their everyday subjects portrayed in outdoor settings.  In spite of this fact , many casual admirers of their work are unaware of the scientific innovations that made it possible this movement in art to take place.  Then , In 1841, an American painter named John Rand invented the collapsible paint tube.  To illustrate the importance of this invention , pigments previously had to be ground and mixed in a fairly complex process that made it difficult for artists to travel with them.  For example , the mixtures were commonly stored in pieces of pig bladder to keep the paint from drying out.  In addition , when working with their palettes, painters had to puncture the bladder, squeeze out some paint, and then mend the bladder again to keep the rest of the paint mixture from drying out.  Thus , Rand’s collapsible tube freed the painters from these cumbersome and messy processes, allowing artists to be more mobile and to paint in the open air. Subtle Transitions that Aid Readers’ Understanding (More Natural): The Impressionist painters of the late 19th century are well known for their visible brush strokes, for their ability to convey a realistic sense of light, and for their everyday subjects portrayed in outdoor settings. However , many casual admirers of their work are unaware of the scientific innovations that made it possible for this movement in art to take place. In 1841, an American painter named John Rand invented the collapsible paint tube.  Before this invention , pigments had to be ground and mixed in a fairly complex process that made it difficult for artists to travel with them. The mixtures were commonly stored in pieces of pig bladder to keep the paint from drying out. When working with their palettes, painters had to puncture the bladder, squeeze out some paint, and then mend the bladder again to keep the rest of the paint mixture from drying out. Rand’s collapsible tube freed the painters from these cumbersome and messy processes, allowing artists to be more mobile and to paint in the open air.

Transitions between Paragraphs and Sections

It’s important to consider how to emphasize the relationships not just between sentences but also between paragraphs in your essay. Here are a few strategies to help you show your readers how the main ideas of your paragraphs relate to each other and also to your thesis.

Use Signposts

Signposts are signal words or phrases that indicate where you are in the process of organizing an idea; for example, signposts might indicate that you are introducing a new concept, that you are summarizing an idea, or that you are concluding your thoughts. Some of the most common signposts include words and phrases like first, then, next, finally, in sum , and  in conclusion . Be careful not to overuse these types of transitions in your writing. Your readers will quickly find them boring, repetitive, or too obvious. Instead, think of more creative ways to let your readers know where they are situated within the ideas presented in your essay. You might say, “The first problem with this practice is…”  Or you might say, “The next thing to consider is…” Or you might say, “A final point to take into account is….”

Use Forward-Looking Sentences at the End of Paragraphs

Sometimes, as you conclude a paragraph, you might want to give your readers a hint about what’s coming next. For example, imagine that you’re writing an essay about the benefits of trees to the environment and you’ve just wrapped up a paragraph about how trees absorb pollutants and provide oxygen. You might conclude with a forward-looking sentence like this: “Trees benefits to local air quality are important, but surely they have more to offer our communities than clean air.”  This might conclude a paragraph (or series of paragraphs) and then prepare your readers for additional paragraphs to come that cover the topics of trees’ shade value and ability to slow water evaporation on hot summer days. This transitional strategy can be tricky to employ smoothly. Make sure that the conclusion of your paragraph doesn’t sound like you’re leaving your readers hanging with the introduction of a completely new or unrelated topic.

Use Backward-Looking Sentences at the Beginning of Paragraphs

Rather than concluding a paragraph by looking forward, you might instead begin a paragraph by looking back. Continuing with the example above of an essay about the value of trees, let’s think about how we might begin a new paragraph or section by first taking a moment to look back. Maybe you just concluded a paragraph on the topic of trees’ ability to decrease soil erosion and you’re getting ready to talk about how they provide habitats for urban wildlife. Beginning the opening of a new paragraph or section of the essay with a backward-looking transition might look something like this: “While their benefits to soil and water conservation are great, the value that trees provide to our urban wildlife also cannot be overlooked.”

Evaluate Your Transitions

As you revise your draft, make sure you include transitions where you need them, and omit them where they are unnecessary. Try reading your draft aloud. Listen for areas that sound choppy or abrupt .  This can help you make note of areas where transitions need to be added. Repetition is another problem that can be easier to find if you read your essay aloud. If you notice yourself using the same transitions over and over again, take time to find some alternatives.

Activity ~ Transition Strategies

Choose an essay or piece of writing, either that you’re currently working on, or that you’ve written in the past. Identify your major topics or main ideas. Then, using the suggestions in this chapter, develop at least three examples of sentence-level transitions and at least two examples of paragraph-level transitions.

Share and discuss with your classmates in small groups, and choose one example of each type from your group to share with the whole class. If you like the results, you might use them to revise your writing. If not, try some other strategies.

Is this chapter:

…too easy? –> Read “ Transitioning: Beware of Velcro ” from the Harvard College Writing Center.

…about right, but you would like more lists of words? –> See “ Transitional Devices ” from Purdue OWL.

…about right, but you would prefer to watch and learn? –> Listen to a student discuss her transitions in her paragraph in this “ See It in Practice: Paragraphing ” videocast from Excelsior Online Writing Lab.

This chapter was modified from “ Developing Relationships between Ideas ” from The Word on College Reading and Writing by Carol Burnell, Jaime Wood, Monique Babin, Susan Pesznecker, and Nicole Rosevear, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

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to give an example of something

in animals, an internal bag that collects urine

understated; not obvious

rough, not flowing smoothly, not connected

ENGLISH 087: Academic Advanced Writing Copyright © 2020 by Nancy Hutchison is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Definition and Examples of a Transition in Composition

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  • An Introduction to Punctuation
  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

In English grammar, a transition is a connection (a word, phrase, clause, sentence, or entire paragraph ) between two parts of a piece of writing, contributing to cohesion .

Transitional devices include pronouns , repetition , and transitional expressions , all of which are illustrated below.

Pronunciation: trans-ZISH-en

Etymology From the Latin, "to go across"

Examples and Observations

Example:  At first  a toy,  then  a mode of transportation for the rich, the automobile was designed as man's mechanical servant.  Later  it became part of the pattern of living.

Here are some examples and insights from other writers:

  • "A transition should be short, direct, and almost invisible." Gary Provost, Beyond Style: Mastering the Finer Points of Writing . Writer's Digest Books, 1988)
  • "A transition is anything that links one sentence—or paragraph—to another. Nearly every sentence, therefore, is transitional. (In that sentence, for example, the linking or transitional words are sentence, therefore, and transitional .) Coherent writing , I suggest, is a constant process of transitioning." (Bill Stott, Write to the Point: And Feel Better About Your Writing , 2nd ed. Columbia University Press, 1991)

Repetition and Transitions 

In this example, transitions are repeated in the prose:

  • "The way I write is who I am, or have become, yet this is a case in which I wish I had instead of words and their rhythms a cutting room, equipped with an Avid, a digital editing system on which I could touch a key and collapse the sequence of time, show you simultaneously all the frames of memory that come to me now, let you pick the takes, the marginally different expressions, the variant readings of the same lines. This is a case in which I need more than words to find the meaning. This is a case in which I need whatever it is I think or believe to be penetrable, if only for myself." (Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking , 2006)

Pronouns and Repeated Sentence Structures

  • "Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return." (Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking , 2006)
  • "When you find yourself having difficulty moving from one section of an article to the next, the problem might be due to the fact that you are leaving out information. Rather than trying to force an awkward transition , take another look at what you have written and ask yourself what you need to explain in order to move on to your next section." (Gary Provost, 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing . Mentor, 1972)

Tips on Using Transitions

  • "After you have developed your essay into something like its final shape, you will want to pay careful attention to your transitions . Moving from paragraph to paragraph, from idea to idea, you will want to use transitions that are very clear—you should leave no doubt in your reader's mind how you are getting from one idea to another. Yet your transitions should not be hard and monotonous: though your essay will be so well-organized you may easily use such indications of transitions as 'one,' 'two,' 'three' or 'first,' 'second,' and 'third,' such words have the connotation of the scholarly or technical article and are usually to be avoided, or at least supplemented or varied, in the formal composition . Use 'one,' 'two,' 'first,' 'second,' if you wish, in certain areas of your essay, but also manage to use prepositional phrases and conjunctive adverbs and subordinate clauses and brief transitional paragraphs to achieve your momentum and continuity. Clarity and variety together are what you want." (Winston Weathers and Otis Winchester, The New Strategy of Style . McGraw-Hill, 1978)

Space Breaks as Transitions

  • " Transitions are usually not that interesting. I use space breaks instead, and a lot of them. A space break makes a clean segue whereas some segues you try to write sound convenient, contrived. The white space sets off, underscores, the writing presented, and you have to be sure it deserves to be highlighted this way. If used honestly and not as a gimmick, these spaces can signify the way the mind really works, noting moments and assembling them in such a way that a kind of logic or pattern comes forward, until the accretion of moments forms a whole experience, observation, state of being. The connective tissue of a story is often the white space, which is not empty. There’s nothing new here, but what you don’t say can be as important as what you do say." (Amy Hempel, interviewed by Paul Winner. The Paris Review , Summer 2003)
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  • Complete List of Transition Words
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Reading Worksheets, Spelling, Grammar, Comprehension, Lesson Plans

Transition Words for Essays

What are Transition Words and how Do I use Transition Words for Essays? Transition words and phrases help make your essay flow smoothly from paragraph to paragraph. You can use them at the ends and beginnings of paragraphs, as well as in your introduction and conclusion. Transition words and phrases can be used in every type of essay, but they are most appropriate in expository or argumentative essays in which it’s important to present your ideas in a clear, logical flow. Read on for more insight into transition words for essays, including lists, examples and descriptions of how to use them in your writing.

Transition Words for Essays that Compare and Contrast

Comparison and contrast transition words are obviously helpful when writing a compare/contrast essay, but you can also use them to compare two different pieces of information in an expository or argumentative essay. You may also use comparison and contrast transition words to contrast two different experiences in a narrative essay or to compare two different people, places or objects in a descriptive essay.

Here are some of the most common comparison transition words for essays, followed by examples:

  • in the same way

Comparison Transition Words for Essays, sentence examples:

  • In the same way , Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech inspired a generation.
  • Similarly , my vacation to the beach was also peaceful and fun, just like my week at summer camp.

Here are some of the most common contrast transition words for essays, followed by examples:

  • in spite of
  • on the one hand/on the other hand
  • in contrast
  • on the contrary

Contrast Transition Words for Essays, sentence examples:

  • However , this delicious breakfast was not as memorable as the dinner my family shared that evening.
  • In contrast , my grandmother is always cracking jokes while my grandfather stays serious.

Sequence/Order Transition Words for Essays

Sequence words are especially important in narrative essays, where you must guide your reader through the events of your story. Sequence words can be used at the start of each paragraph to clearly mark out what happened first, next and so on. In addition, you can also use sequence transition words for essays that are informational and communicate historical events. It is also helpful to use sequence transition words for essays where you are writing about a book or movie and need to briefly summarize the plot. Here are some sequence/ordering words, followed by examples:

  • First , my mom dropped me off at school that fateful morning.
  • Then , I saw an unbelievable sight!
  • Finally , the zookeepers showed up and led the baby elephant into the back of a hay-filled truck.

Transition Word for Essays Examples

Example transition words can help you provide evidence in argumentative essays and add interesting detail in descriptive and narrative essays. There are many different kinds of example words and phrases you can use to keep your writing interesting and avoid repetition in a longer essay. Here are some of the most common example transition words for essays:

  • for example
  • for instance
  • specifically
  • to illustrate

Here are some additional example transition words for essays you may use in your writing, followed by examples:

  • additionally
  • equally important
  • furthermore
  • in addition
  • For example , one study explained that students who participate in extracurricular activities have a higher overall homework completion rate.
  • Furthermore , engagement in nonacademic activities has been shown to increase confidence in children between the ages of 11 and 14.

Conclusion Transition Words for Essays

Conclusion words help signal to the reader that you are coming to the end of your essay. A strong conclusion paragraph will begin with a clear conclusion word or phrase that will help to sum up your overall points. Here are some of the most common conclusion words and phrases, followed by examples:

  • in conclusion
  • on the whole
  • to conclude
  • to summarize
  • In conclusion , school uniforms can help improve students’ focus in the middle school classroom.
  • In sum , voting is an important part of our democracy and something we shouldn’t take for granted.

Learn more about Transition Words

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  1. Definition and Examples of Transitional Paragraphs

    A transitional paragraph is a paragraph in an essay, speech, composition, or report that signals a shift from one section or idea to another. ... Transitional Paragraphs in Comparison Essays "After you have finished discussing topic A, add a transitional paragraph. ... "Definition and Examples of Transitional Paragraphs." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5 ...

  2. 92 Essay Transition Words to Know, With Examples

    Abruptly switching topics in essays can be jarring; however, transition words can smooth the change for the convenience of the reader.Moreover, you can use essay transition words to start a paragraph, sentence, or clause more naturally.Additionally, essay transition words can connect new information to the previous statement so you don't have to say everything at once.

  3. Transition Sentences

    Clear transitions are crucial to clear writing: They show the reader how different parts of your essay, paper, or thesis are connected. Transition sentences can be used to structure your text and link together paragraphs or sections. Example of a transition sentence for a new paragraph. …. In this case, the researchers concluded that the ...

  4. Transitional Words and Phrases

    Transitional words and phrases can create powerful links between ideas in your paper and can help your reader understand the logic of your paper. However, these words all have different meanings, nuances, and connotations. Before using a particular transitional word in your paper, be sure you understand its meaning and usage completely and be sure…

  5. Transition Words & Phrases

    It's important to understand the meaning of all the transition words you use. If unsure, consult a dictionary to find the precise definition. ... Transition sentences are used to start a new paragraph or section in an essay. They help the reader understand connections between ideas. 532. How to Write Topic Sentences | 4 Steps, Examples ...

  6. 33 Transition Words for Essays

    33 Transition Words and Phrases. 'Besides,' 'furthermore,' 'although,' and other words to help you jump from one idea to the next. Transitional terms give writers the opportunity to prepare readers for a new idea, connecting the previous sentence to the next one. Many transitional words are nearly synonymous: words that broadly indicate that ...

  7. Transitions

    A transition between paragraphs can be a word or two (however, for example, similarly), a phrase, or a sentence. Transitions can be at the end of the first paragraph, at the beginning of the second paragraph, or in both places. Transitions within paragraphs: As with transitions between sections and paragraphs, transitions within paragraphs act ...

  8. Transitions

    Transitions help your readers move between ideas within a paragraph, between paragraphs, or between sections of your argument. When you are deciding how to transition from one idea to the next, your goal should be to help readers see how your ideas are connected—and how those ideas connect to the big picture.

  9. PDF 7th Edition Transitions Quick Guide

    Transitions Quick Guide There are two kinds of transitions: (a) transitional words and phrases. that are used at the start of a sentence to . show how the sentence connects with the previous sentence and (b) transitional sentences that are used at the start of a paragraph to show how the paragraph logically connects with the previous paragraph.

  10. Transitions Between Paragraphs

    Concluding Paragraph. As mentioned above, the category of transition words that would most benefit your concluding paragraph is Emphasis.Since one of the main purposes of the concluding paragraph is to revisit ideas shared within the essay, transition words that express emphasis would be a natural fit and value-add.

  11. Developing your essay

    Transitions are words, phrases, or sentences that connect ideas, sentences, or paragraphs. If you've received feedback that your writing is "choppy", which means there isn't a smooth flow between ideas, or that your reader struggled to understand the connections between ideas or paragraphs, try incorporating transitions into your writing.

  12. Transition Words and Phrases to Improve Your Writing

    Conclusion and summary transition words. These are the transition words that bring paragraphs, arguments, and pieces of writing to a close. They can also be used to summarize and restate ideas. These transition phrases and words include: in summary. in conclusion. to conclude. in any event.

  13. Transition Sentences: Definition, Usage Tips & Examples

    Here are a few more examples of transition sentences at work: Employees who've returned to the office reported higher productivity levels since switching to a four-day week. Similarly, remote employees have also reported they're more productive with the new schedule. First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  14. Transitional Words and Phrases

    Transitions to Show Order of Importance. Transitions can be used to show order of importance, which means arranging your ideas from most to least important or vice versa. Sometimes you may want to end with the most important idea so that it acts as the climax at the end of the paragraph or essay.

  15. Paragraphs and Paragraph Transitions

    Overview of components to be discussed (structure) Body paragraphs. paragraph 1. Topic sentence outlining first component. Sentences giving explanations and providing evidence to support topic sentence. Concluding sentence - link to next paragraph. paragraph 2. Topic sentence outlining second component.

  16. Transitional Expressions

    Using Specific Transitions "Transitional expressions within a paragraph and between paragraphs help the reader move from one detail or supporting point in an essay to the next. When first learning to organize an essay, beginning writers may start each body paragraph and every new example with a transitional expression (first, for example, next ...

  17. Transitional Phrases

    Here is a list of some common transitional phrases that can be used to help make your ideas flow. To Add. To Compare/Show Similarity. To Contrast/Show Differences. To Show Cause & Effect. To Illustrate/Give an Example. To Generalize. To Emphasize. To Restate.

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    Transitions can exist between paragraphs, between sections in an essay, or even within paragraphs themselves. Within a paragraph, transitions can create a greater coherence and make the writing ...

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    Transitions, which are often called signal words or phrases, help to give your writing coherence and cohesion. Useful transitions signal the order of ideas, highlight relationships, unify concepts, and let readers know what's coming next or remind them about what's already been written. Good writers use transitions both within paragraphs ...

  20. Definition and Examples of a Transition in Composition

    "A transition should be short, direct, and almost invisible." Gary Provost, Beyond Style: Mastering the Finer Points of Writing.Writer's Digest Books, 1988) "A transition is anything that links one sentence—or paragraph—to another. Nearly every sentence, therefore, is transitional. (In that sentence, for example, the linking or transitional words are sentence, therefore, and transitional.)

  21. Transition Words for Essays

    Transition words and phrases help make your essay flow smoothly from paragraph to paragraph. You can use them at the ends and beginnings of paragraphs, as well as in your introduction and conclusion. Transition words and phrases can be used in every type of essay, but they are most appropriate in expository or argumentative essays in which it ...