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Transition words: What are they and how to use them?

Transition words: What are they and how to use them?

Transitional WordsTransitional words are a part of speech that is used to connect words, phrases, or sentences.  They help the reader to connect one idea to another, hence creating cohesion and coherence within the text.

Types of transition words

There are three types of transitions in English texts:

  1. Transitions between sections: In long written works, it is necessary to include transitional paragraphs to summarize information covered and to link this information to the coming section.
  2. Transitions between paragraphs: Transition words help to highlight the relationship between the two paragraphs. The transition between paragraphs can be a word or two (however, for example, similarly), a phrase, or a sentence. Transition words can be at the beginning or at the end of the paragraph, or in both places.
  3. Transitions within paragraphs: Transitions within paragraphs help readers to anticipate what is coming before they read it. Within paragraphs, transition words tend to be single words or short phrases.

There are about 200 transitional words in the English vocabulary; they are used to convey the following transitions:

  • to connect ideas – and, also
  • introduce a particular shift –  but
  • contrast –  otherwise, however
  • opposition –  on the other hand, notwithstanding
  • emphasis – notably
  • agreement – granted
  • purpose – in the event that
  • result – as a result
  • conclusion – as it can be seen

Transitional words can belong to more than one category of word and can also be prepositions.

Categories of transitional words:

These transition words are a sample of the 200 or more transition words in English. They are used to express the followings:

Cause / Condition / Purpose

These transitional phrases present specific conditions or intentions.

Cause Condition Purpose
in the event that granted (that) as / so long as
on (the) condition (that) for the purpose of with this intention
in the hope that to the end that with this in mind

Agreement / Addition / Similarity

These transitional phrases present specific conditions or intentions:

Agreement Addition Similarity
in the event that also moreover
on (the) condition (that) equally as well as
in the hope that too likewise

Examples / Support / Emphasis

These transitional words are used to introduce examples to support, to indicate importance or to illustrate an idea

Examples Support Emphasis
in other words notably in fact
to put it differently including in general
that is to say including in particular

Effect / Consequence / Result

These transitional words indicate that after a certain time there was a consequence or effect.

Effect Consequence Result
in that case for consequently
as a result thus therefore
for this reason hence henceforth

Conclusion / Summary / Restatement

These transition words and phrases conclude and summarize ideas, or indicate a final statement.

Conclusion Summary Restatement
as can be seen after all Obviously
as a result in fact Ultimately
for this reason to summarize Definitely

 

Time / Chronology / Sequence

These transitional words have the function of defining time

Time Chronology Sequence
at the present time after during
sooner or later henceforth prior to
for this reason next by the time

 

Space / Location / Place

These transitional words limit or quantity space.

Space Location Place
in the middle here beyond
in front of there prior to
on this side near amid

Welcome to the Transitional Words and Phrases quiz

The wedding will happen tomorrow ________  the weather
What type of punctuation is missing from this sentence?
"I ate the whole cake___ still, I am not full."
I crashed my car.  _____, I need to either buy a new one or get my car repaired.
I cannot mesure your blood pressure because I don't know how.  _____,  I know someone who can.
____  it was raining, I still walked to the office
_____  of his high grades,  Andrew did not get accepted into university.
Peter studies every day; ____, Andrew spends his time watching television.
My aunt Sophie is a mean person.  ____, she beats me and steals my money.
Which of the following transitional phrases cannot be used in the followin sentence?
Andrew was receiving good grades;  ____ , he dropped out of school
What type of punctuation can always follow a transitional word or phrase?

Conclusion

Transitions are words or phrases that connect sentences and paragraphs; they bring the reader from one idea to the next.  When one subject is concluded, the next subject must be introduced smoothly.

Understanding and Using English Grammar by Betty Azar understandingEnglishGrammar
Grammarly. Correct your grammar as you type. Grammarly logo
English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy English Grammar in Use
The Blue book of Grammar and punctuation provides an easy to use guide with clear rules, real-world examples, and reproducible quizzes. thebluebookofgrammar

 

Aaron Skudder

11 Comments

  1. I never knew about transition words. I am glad I found this post and will share it with my kids

  2. Transition words are integral in the communication processes. They help to switch our discussion while maintaining the normal flow. I make use of them a lot because they help to make our utterances more meaningful and easier to comprehend with. I like making use of them especially when I am writing because they help to achieve coherence in communication. Hence, I took the test and I got 9/10. Thanks

  3. Most people make use of these words when writing but I am not entirely sure if most of them know that these are transition words and how to effectively make use of them in writing. With better understanding, it can definitely affect our writing style. The pop quiz was really helpful and I scored a 9 out of 10. Pretty good I guess.

  4. Very interesting to now that transitional words can get up to 200. I have always thought that they couldn’t get past the common two, and and also. I am just learning the difference in condition and purpose transitional phrases. So there is a difference in Conclusions and Summary? I love the quiz, got me to restart my mind. The last quiz had me wondering what the answer is.But I’ll guess and say the Semi-Colon.

    Thank you for these educational reminders. Very useful article!

    • Thanks for the review.  Use a semi-colon if a sentence has two equal clauses. The way to tell is if you could split the sentence into two sentences.

  5. Thanks for taking your time to put together this great article on transitional markers. I haven’t been so perfect in my use of transitional markers and with this article I have really learnt a lot about it and how they are used properly to avoid errors. I now have a full knowledge on how to make use of them in my sentences. I hope to see more educating and helpful reviews from you.kudos

    • Hi Willy

      Transition words can make blogs more interesting and coherent.  Thanks for the comment.

  6. English is my forth language so I always love websites like this one. I bookmarked it and I will always check it out to better my English. What used to bother me was the tense and I managed to get it out of the way so now punctuation is bothering me alot. Am sure you can realize that from the sentences am making right now.  I took the quiz and failed the last one. But, I know that with enough practice I’ll learn and be good at it.

    Thank you.

  7. This is exceptionally brilliant. You might not believe that I actually learnt a lot. I also take notes from here. To  make examples, I often say: “as in”; does this pass for a transition word?

    In the quiz I scored 9/10, failing the question about an aunt being mean. Thanks for the fun class.

    • ‘As in’ is a transitional phrase

      The transition in the question about aunt Sophie is ‘For example’.

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