Transitions are words that are used to connect ideas. Although they have grammatical value, we will view them as elements of cohesion and style. To put it simply, the proper use of transitions aims to create flow in your writing by linking ideas, sentences, and paragraphs. These words and expressions may appear within sentences to bridge one idea to the next; they may be used to set up or begin a new paragraph; they may be used to create a pace, to create drama, or to establish a sense of style. In other words, transitions are highly valuable tools in the creation of good writing.
In this section we will look at the types of transitions available and examples of each. Though there are many transitions that you will not see here, it is important to keep in mind that in shorter written works you will not have the opportunity to use many transitions. This being the case, it is recommended you fully grasp the use of a handful of these, in their various functions, rather than study all of them and use some incorrectly. Put another way, study the functions first, and then practice using 2–3 of the transitions that perform each function. The reason for this is that a poorly utilized transition will do more damage to writing than the repetition of already used expressions or no transition at all. For example, it is better to use therefore, thus, and consequently a few times within an essay, than incorrectly, and inadvisably, use hence and lose the effect of the point expressed. Also, pay attention to certain transitions that can be used to perform more than one function, and be aware that transitions may appear at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence, depending on how they are being used and their function in the sentence.
As transitions perform a function, they are listed here accordingly.
|a: in addition (to)||furthermore||moreover||another||what’s more|
|b: similarly||likewise||in the same way|
The above transitions are used to add information to what has already been expressed. With these, you can develop an idea and expand on it while remaining on the same topic. It is important to always remember that these transitions join at least two related ideas. Which transition you should use, however, depends on the purpose of relating these ideas.
To add information, such as details, or to add a point to a developing argument, use the transitions mention in a: above:
Ex: The government grew anxious as rebels captured vital supply routes in the north of the country. Moreover, these rebels were using these routes to supply their allies in the west in an effort to gain further ground.
The medication helps by limiting the resistance certain antibodies pose to the virus, thus actually forcing the body to produce other, natural defenses.
- Another way this medication works against virus is by diminishing the nutrients they can feed on.
- In addition to building resistance, the medication also acts to diminish the available nutrients that the virus can feed on.
- Furthermore, the nutrients available to the virus are diminished by the medication.
The transitions listed in b: also add information. They do so by adding something that is similar to what has already been mentioned, yet allow the writer to introducing a new point under the umbrella of the overall topic. These can also be used to make a direct comparison between two things:
Ex: Engineers study for many years to earn their degrees and establish their careers. Likewise, lawyers must study for a long time and build a reputation for themselves before they are considered successful. Studying for many years, therefore, is not as heavy a burden as might appear at first.
In this example, we are comparing the two career fields, yet this is done as a side note, while studying is the main topic with two strong points to support its value.
Showing a contrast:
|in contrast, conversely, on the contrary, rather, yet, but, however, still, whereas, instead|
|by the same token, (on the one hand…), on the other hand, as compared to/with|
|actually, in fact, …|
These transitions show a direct contrast to what came before it or will follow, or to place conditions or limits on the ideas stated so as to allow for a change in direction. They can also be used to provide opposing choices, or to show the differences between things. In contrast to and as compared to/with usually show a difference between things and are often followed by a noun clause or a noun+ adjective clause (or participle) in which the difference is expanded upon. Actually and in fact are used to introduce a correction of the information that came before.
Ex: The new report outlined the rate of deterioration in the forests of the Northwest. The results were in stark contrast to the numbers published by the Environmental Agency, which many believe was acting under intense pressure from lobby groups representing big business.
The council voted to initiate a public support hotline that would allow members of the public to provide information to the police anonymously. However, they added a safety clause that would allow the police to track and identify those who might abuse the system.
The professor faced a common dilemma: on the one hand, he could report the Senator’s son’s plagiarism to the University’s governing body and consequently have him expelled—this would hurt the reputation of the University. On the other hand, he could let the infraction go unpunished and risk his own career if anyone found out.
The International Space Station is quite large, as compared to the Chinese space station, which is nearly half its size.
Many young Western children see African children with swollen bellies on television and believe that these children are fat. In fact, a swollen belly is a syndrome caused by malnutrition, yet teachers in the West often neglect to correct this view.
|(be) analogous to||similarly||likewise||in the same vein||comparably|
These are straightforward bridges that act to compare two things, people, places, actions, etc. They can also compare groups of things. Keep in mind, though that compare here means to find similarities. There are other transitions (as seen above) that show differences between things.
Ex: Some of the parents at the school consider Jimmy’s mother’s actions extreme. Some have even mentioned that they find them analogous to a mother bear protecting hers cubs in the wild. However, they go on, this is a civilized society, and a parent whose child is having trouble at school should go through the proper channels to solve it.
The audience was informed that it is impolite to disrupt the speaker during his lecture and asked that all questions be saved for the Q&A session following the speech. In the same vein they were requested to refrain from using their cell phones for the duration of the lecture.
In the second example, in the same vein suggests that for the same reason (i.e., politeness) they should refrain from using their cell phones.
Conceding a point
|that being said||having said that/this||nevertheless||nonetheless|
|notwithstanding||at any rate||still||granted that|
|of course||at the same time||while this may be true|
This is one of the most useful set of transitions available to writers, yet it is also the one most commonly misused. These transitions suggest that the point given before, while true and accepted, can be argued against with what follows. In other words, a concession is used to both agree with a point and present a contrasting one to it.
Ex: Everyone in attendance agrees that Ms. Johansson deserved the award for her latest performance. Nevertheless, the level of criticism seen on the social networks following the awards show suggests that the general public considered others more suited to win.
The Governor looked over the evidence and admitted that his aide had indeed made a grave error of judgment. That being said, he decided against firing him, noting that his overall contributions to the Governor’s office far outweigh a moment of thoughtlessness.
The company spent millions of dollars on research in order to provide evidence that rhinoceros tusks do in fact possess healing elements and that the company is therefore justified in harvesting these for human consumption. Of course, this does not redeem them of the methods used by hunters in obtaining these tusks.
In the last example, of course suggests that the writer is not trying to argue against the findings of the research, or the medical value of rhinoceros tusks. The writer wants to address a different aspect, namely the way in which these tusks are obtained. This suggests here that of course concedes the previous points (or, at the very least, minimizes them to irrelevance) and shifts the focus of the sentence to what follows.
|above all||indeed||of course||certainly||in fact|
|besides||obviously||unquestionably||without a doubt||certainly|
|undeniably||absolutely||in any case||again||as noted|
|as previously/already mentioned|
These transitions are useful when we want to stress something. They are generally considered “extra” words in that they are not usually necessary for the meaning of the sentence or idea. They should be used sparingly and only on occasions that truly call for emphasis.
You will notice here that we have included transitions of repetition as well. These are used as a bridge to follow from one idea to the next while at the same time stressing the importance of the first; thus, they are used as a function of emphasis, though in a less obvious way. These too should be used sparingly and only when recalling a previous point will aid the reader with what follows:
Ex: The Minister of Education has listed increasing children’s literacy among her top priorities in her new term. Based on international testing standards, she claims, our students rank lower in certain areas of academics as compared with other developed nations. She plans to implement policies and incentive programs aimed at teachers in an effort to raise awareness of the dire situation our children face, as well as the need to improve their competitiveness in the global market. In fact, she goes on in her address to the teacher’s union, with the global economy becoming more and more intertwined, the opportunities for our children to secure jobs in the future are dependent on our schools’ performance today. As mentioned already, this suggests improving literacy capabilities on standardized tests, as well as other particular areas of focus.
Elaborating a point/providing details
|in other words||that is (to say)||in essence||on this occasion|
|to put it differently||put another way||at least||chiefly|
|especially||namely||in this situation/case||in short/brief|
Sometimes an idea needs to be expanded upon or explained in other terms so as to have its full effect on the reader. In other situations, a general idea or point needs to focus on one specific element. This is what these transitions are used for:
Ex: The General took full and sole responsibility for the disastrous outcome of the mission. That is to say, though he was not on the field at the time of the incursion, the planning of it was his duty, and therefore he assumed all the blame for its failure.
Poor sales reports are a common occurrence in any business sector, though in this particular case, the numbers were dismal as a direct result of mismanagement and ineffective planning. The Board members, and especially the Chairman, felt that punitive measures were absolutely necessary in order to send a message to the incoming COO.
|for example||for instance||such as||like||In the case of…|
|To illustrate this||To demonstrate||Let’s look at ___ as an example;||Take _______ as an
These are straightforward and self-explanatory: these transitions introduce an example to illustrate a point made, or to provide sample items in a list that explains what came before it:
Ex: There are several ways to reach the town, such as by bicycle, though that might take several hours, or by ATV, which is both quicker and more fun.
The science teacher wanted to show his students that science can be both interesting and fun. To demonstrate this, he arranged an experiment to show the students an example of a violent chemical reaction. He dropped some Menthos mint candies into a bottle of cola, which resulted in a large explosion of pop all over the lab.
Showing a consequence or result:
|consequently||as a result||therefore||thus||hence|
|due to this ____||for this reason||otherwise||thereby|
These transitions lead from one event or situation to its result. Be careful: these transitions do not mean the same thing as because in that they do not provide a reason for something that occurs. Rather they provide the link between a cause and its effect.
Ex: Heavy traffic caused the bus to arrive late at the terminal, consequently leaving many passengers without a connecting bus to go on with their journey.
All electrical components must be installed individually and in sequence; otherwise, the operator risks overloading the mainframe and causing a shutdown.
Allen successfully completed his thesis work, thereby assuring himself a spot on the Dean’s honour roll.
|all things considered||after all||all in all,||briefly|
|on the whole||in short||in summary||in the final analysis|
|to sum up||in conclusion|
We use summary transitions to bring a written work to a close, usually by drawing a conclusion, or in cases of longer works, to review what has been mentioned before moving on to other arguments and/or points.
Ex: All things considered, the project may be viewed as a success in light of the possible applications that have been assessed as viable.
In this case, what came before was the presentation of the project in terms of both positive and negative aspects. When all the points are considered together, the writer reaches a conclusion that is positive. As well, the transition in this sentence can be replaced by most of those mentioned above.
Following to another idea/Reaching a conclusion:
|This leads to…||following from this, then, …||we can see from this, then, that|
|Accordingly||as a rule||for the most part|
|For this purpose||towards this end||with this in mind|
As we have seen earlier, we can link one idea to another by adding information using transitions of addition. However, if we need to link to a new idea that is somehow related to an idea expressed, though is its own topic, we can use these bridging transitions to do so:
Ex: Camouflage is specifically designed for the terrain in which it will be used. It follows from this, then, that the military, with all its technological might and expense, is still subservient to Nature.
The team’s new owner, who had made his fortune in industries completely unrelated to sports, promised the fan base that he would bring them a championship within three years. Towards this end, however, ticket prices would need to increase.
To Show sequence/Relate in time
|at first||first of all||to begin with||in the first place||the next step||in time|
|simultaneously||eventually||meanwhile||in the meantime|
|for the time being||at the same time||once|
Time is an important factor in writing. If you need to show a process, chart a history, plan a future, and so on, then time transitions are very important indicators for the reader to be able to follow the action or sequence of events. The above transitions are self-explanatory in their time allotments, though they should be practiced as they can be inserted almost anywhere in a sentence. The positioning of these is very important for style and emphasis:
Ex: A house is built in a strategic order: First of all, the foundation must be properly laid on flat ground. Once this is done, the carpenters can begin constructing the frame on top of this. The electricians and plumbers then simultaneously install the necessary infrastructure before the bricklayers begin to cover the outside walls.
Please submit all the necessary forms to the administrator’s office. The secretary will forward these to the committee, who, in turn, will respond to your request at the earliest opportunity.
|exclusive of||other than||outside of||save (for)||of course|
When listing the conditions and/or requirements for a particular situation, certain exceptions may need to be stated. These are done using the transitions above:
Ex: Aside from the decor and final touchups to the walls, the condominium is largely completed.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I believe we have concluded our negotiations.
All the members have cast their votes save for the candidates themselves who will do so tomorrow evening.