Your One Stop Transition Words Guide to Improve your English Writing
“You have great content, but I’m afraid your paper does not flow well. It’s too choppy due to a lack of transition words.”
Have you ever received a similar feedback like that from your teachers? If so, then you’re not alone. Most students struggle with weaving sentences naturally or coherently without sounding like a child in elementary school.
This is where transition words make their grand entrance! There’s a high chance that you will need them in your academic and professional life. Nevertheless, let’s find out how they contribute to transforming your paper from choppy to awesome!
What are Transition Words?
According to Wikipedia, transition words are words (obviously) and phrases that link paragraphs or texts. Simply put, they interconnect sentences and paragraphs in a logical manner. Transition words can additionally serve as cues or evoke a certain reaction or feeling to your readers (Ex: Unfortunately, his ideas were…).
They are more than just “fancy” or “decorative” words and phrases. Transition words are often used in academic and professional writing. However, there are also instances when transitions are used in casual or informal writing.
Did you know that there are various types of transitions? Here they are:
1Transitions Between Sections
The transition words here have to link from the previous section to another section. This is applicable to longer written assignments.
- To sum up (my previous point)
- As stated previously
2Transitions Between Paragraphs
It demonstrates how one particular information relates or differs to another information. Transition words can be placed at the end or the beginning (or both) of a paragraph. It depends on how you organize your work.
Personally, there are rare instances when I embed “on the other hand” within a paragraph.
- On the other hand
- In contrast
- In addition to
- As a result
Note: From my experience, there are rare instances when I embed “on the other hand” within a paragraph. I do that when summarizing contrasting elements in the conclusion.
Also, I tend to add “as a result” within a paragraph when I think the passage is not overloaded with information. However, I would write it in a new paragraph if the previous paragraph is cramped.
3Transitions Within a Paragraph
It is used to link similar information in one paragraph. Transition words used here are short and brief.
- For example/for instance
Okay, these categories may puzzle you. Don’t worry, I will group them into specific types later on in the guide.
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Why Should I use Transition Words?
Transitions can help you communicate effectively to your reader— most probably, your teacher! Failure to write a coherent paper without adding any verbal cues will lead you to your demise. Oh no! I’m sure no one wants that.
Hence, I’m here to outline the reasons why you should use transition words in your essay:
- Transition words allow you to coherently link one idea to another.
- Moreover, it prepares the reader for what is to come because transitions serve as a clue.
- They also enable you to jump to another subject/topic effectively and naturally without confusing your reader.
- As mentioned previously, transitions can radiate a certain emotion you want your audience to feel as they read your work.
By now, you should remember that transition words play a significant role in writing papers. Again, they’re not decorative words to sprinkle your essay with. Use them smartly, and your teacher will be proud of you.
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List of Transition Words
I grouped them based on their specific role and purpose in essays. Please look at the tables below:
Take note: “Therefore,” “hence,” and “thus” are also used to conclude and summarize information.
Guide to Using Transition Words
1Know the Definition!
You know where and how to use the transition word, but do you know its meaning? My English teacher stated that students must first know the word’s definition before incorporating it.
Moreover, they [the students] have to ensure that the transition word they will use suits the context, logic, and flow of the paper’s content.
When I was a student, I barely wrote any transition words in my essays and journal entries for my English class. This was also the same case with my classmates. As a result, my English teacher instructed everyone,
“Use transition words in your essays. The more you use them, the more it will come to you naturally.”
Something sparked in my mind after heeding his advice. He’s right! Since then, I started to incorporate transitions into my written assignments not only in English class, but in other subjects as well.
So, what’s my point? The point I’m trying to articulate is you have to condition yourself to write transition words until they are ingrained in your memory.
You can start with simple ones such as:
- On the other hand
- To conclude/in conclusion
- For example/for instance
- In contrast
I started with these words as well. Then, I added more transitions until I learned how to incorporate them to my papers.
- Avoid overusing transition words. My classmate called my attention because I overused “moreover” and “further” in our paper.
- Overusing transitions may distract your reader from understanding the content of your essay. Remember, treat them as a guide or a bridge to your thoughts.
It takes time from my experience. But once you do, you will thank yourself ☺
3Look at Sample Sentences/Essays
There are tons of examples in the internet. You can even look at essays, news articles, journals, and other written material to find out how the author incorporates transition words.
- The author clustered Iran and Israel because of the countries’ shared history. For instance, Iran became a refuge for Jewish captives when north Israel was conquered by King Shalmaneser V.
- Confucian teachings made the people value education and knowledge. Members of the nobility were made to learn Chinese characters as a form of communication while the peasants spoke their native language. However, women were affected because Confucian values neglect the role they play in the society.
- In conclusion, the southern Song dynasty is akin to the industrial revolution in Europe, as it was marked by a period of technological and intellectual advancements in the society.
Be creative in a sense that you have to use a variety of transition words in your assignments. Variety is important to avoid redundancies. To illustrate, you can use “further” or “additionally” instead of “moreover.”
Take note: There are a plethora of transitions you can use in your essay. Again, it all depends on how compatible and logical your chosen transition word is with your paper. As long as it flows logically and naturally, you’re good to go.
5Ask for Feedback!
Have a teacher, colleague, friend, or a family member check your work for misuse (overuse) of transition words. You can also ask them if your paper flows naturally or unnaturally. In the end, it doesn’t hurt to ask, right?
- Feedback prevents you from committing the same mistake in your future papers.
- Don’t be sad if you can’t get everything right at first. You are on your way to improvement, and that’s what matters.
All in all, transitions can instantly improve and spice up your paper. Yes, it can impress your teacher too! How cool is that?
Sure— transition words may be your worst enemy at first, but they can become your best friend once you know how to use them properly. May the transitions you learned from this guide lead you to success!
All the best!
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