Course Content
Chapter 3: Writing Mechanics Help
Chapter 12: Teaching Writing
Chapter 23: Teaching Reading
College English Composition: Help and Review
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Transition Words

A transition is the act of moving from one state to another. In this sense, transition words are the words and phrases writers use to connect different ideas. They carry a thought from one idea to the next and establish connections between them so the reader can more clearly see how they are related.

Transitions help a writer create a more readable flow in a text while explaining chronology, causality, and even contrast.

Transitional Phrases

Transitional phrases are sets of words that bridge ideas in writing. No piece of writing is exclusively about one single topic, and even a short work needs to move between the ideas it contains. Transitions in writing help establish order and relationships between these different ideas to make the writing easier to understand. The purpose of most writing is to convey information, and if that information is not presented properly, the work will not meet its most basic requirement.

There are different kinds of transitions: between sections, between paragraphs, and within paragraphs.

Transitions between sections are usually for longer works such as dissertations or books. These are typically paragraphs that summarize a section to better explain new information in a new section in anticipation of new ideas being introduced or to refresh the reader’s memory.

Transitions between paragraphs allow information to move smoothly between topics. These transitions can be found at the beginning of the paragraph, the end, or both. For example, a paragraph might end with a sentence describing the relationship between one idea and a second idea, leading to the following paragraph which would explain the second in detail. Such a transition would imply a clear connection between both ideas.

Transitions within paragraphs are the shortest and can be as short as one word. These transitions connect sentences within a single idea being explained. These transitions are typically at the beginning of sentences.

Transitional Sentences

Transitional sentences are sentences that connect ideas. They make two other sentences easier to read by clarifying their connection and helping ideas flow better.

For example, consider these two sentences:

“He took the online course to prepare for his driver’s test. He failed with the lowest score.”

The sentences follow an explanation of an event. They imply some sort of connection between taking the online course and not passing, but it’s unclear. Information essential to understanding a thesis should never be left up to interpretation if there is a specific way that information needs to be presented in the context of a work. As the sentences are written, the result of failing the test could be in the course or on the test-taker. The addition of a transitional sentence would clarify the relationship between both statements. For example:

“He took the online course to prepare for his driver’s test. However, he took the courses while watching television and didn’t pay attention. He failed with the lowest score.”

The second sentence now has a transition that clarifies the relationship between the first and second sentence. The transition clarifies that the course was not directly to blame, but rather that the subject failed to use it correctly.

Transition Words Between Paragraphs

Transition words between paragraphs can show how one idea leads to the next. They also help clarify where one idea ends and another begins. Transitions between paragraphs can also lead to greater coherence and make the writing easier to read. It’s important to look for relationships and commonalities between the body paragraphs to link them together.

For example, consider a paragraph that praises a restaurant’s menu. The following paragraph might be about a new topic like the service, so the transition between these two paragraphs might read as follows:

“These delectable dishes are all brought by a friendly and knowledgeable staff that makes every other part of the meal enjoyable.”

This transition links the first topic with the next and creates a logical thread for the reader.

Most of the time, however, transitions between paragraphs can be simple one- or two-word phrases such as “Furthermore,” “Additionally,” or “On the other hand.” Choosing the right word is important, however, as some words imply a causal relationship and others imply contrast. Knowing the meaning of each transition and using them when needed will create a clear flow from one idea to the next.

Transition Words For Essays

Transition words for essays are generally the same as transition words in other media. These words can create connections or clarify assumptions, preparing readers for new ideas by using transitions, making the essay easier to read. They generally fall under one of a few broad categories, the most common of which are:

  • Causation: A causation transition links two events to clarify that one event caused the other. Sample causation transitions include “therefore,” “as a result,” and “consequently.”
  • Chronology: Chronology transition words clarify the order of events. Sample chronology transitions include “soon,” “simultaneously,” and “afterwards.”
  • Contrast: A contrast transitional word shows how two ideas are opposites or contrast each other in some other way. Examples include “however,” “on the contrary,” and “nevertheless.”

Using the right type of transition is crucial. If the wrong word is used, it could convey incorrect information.

Conclusion Transition Words

A conclusion can be automatically identified by being the last part of an essay or other written work. However, conclusion transition words can help clarify this by introducing the conclusion. This is especially helpful in a longer work where the conclusion is not a single paragraph and may take up several paragraphs instead. Conclusion transition words can signify that the end of the essay is at hand.

Sample conclusion transition phrases include: “To sum things up,” “Finally,” and “All things considered.”

Lesson Summary

Transitions are words and phrases that help carry a thought from one idea to the next. Using transitions to clarify the relationships and commonalities between each part of the essay can ensure body paragraphs flow together. Transitional words and phrases can move the essay from one topic to the next more easily and show causation, chronology, and contrast. Clarifying these relationships improves the information in an essay and allows more precise understanding.

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 easier to read. Transitional phrases can prepare readers for new ideas.

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