English teachers often ask students to put transition words in their essays. Transition words show relationships between ideas in sentences and paragraphs; therefore, they are an important part of writing. The best part about transition words is that they can be easily inserted in many different places throughout an essay.
The versatility of transition words makes them easy to place throughout an essay. Knowing where to place these words or phrases allows writers to easily insert them where needed.
For sentences, transitions can be placed:
For paragraphs, transitions can be found:
Since transitions show relationships among sentences and paragraphs, recognizing types of transitions will aid a student writer when trying to place them.
- Also, indeed, alternatively, further, furthermore, on the other hand, in addition
- For example, for instance, in particular, to illustrate
- Similarly, likewise, in the same manner/way
- Specifically, namely
- In other words
- But, in contrast, however, conversely, on the other hand
- Indeed, more importantly, in either case, in any case, in any event, at any rate
- Nonetheless, nevertheless, regardless
- Due to or due to the fact, for, as, since
- Granting, granted, on the condition, unless
- As a result, consequently, therefore, thus, otherwise
- Initially, first, to begin with, to start with
- Afterwards, subsequently, previously, finally
- To summarize, therefore, briefly, in short
Clearly, transition words can be used in so many places that they can be overused. The key to using them efficiently is to add enough to make the reader understand the points being made without using so many that the phrases become cumbersome. A balance should be maintained; however, there are no rules as to how many or how few transitions should be in any particular essay.
The only way to get better at writing is to do more writing. The way to get better at using transitions is to consciously try to use them. Many students already know the steps in the writing process:
For some writers, this is not a linear progression. Often writers move back and forth among the different steps. There is no one correct way to write, and many writers stick to what works best for them. Often, individual writing processes are learned over time and with much practice.
To include transition words, first the essay must be written and edited. There is no sense spending lots of time on transition words if the writing lacks content, organization, or contains many grammatical and mechanical errors.
Once a draft of the essay is complete, then transition words can be added in the revision and editing stage. Having a list of transition words available during writing may help with the placement of the words.
Keep in mind that some transition words are more informal than others. Academic writing should be written in a formal, authoritative tone unless an instructor or the assignment indicates otherwise.
After writing the essay, one way to help the reader stay focused and follow your thought pattern is to include a variety of transition words throughout the essay. These signal words are important for a smooth transition from one idea to another. However, try not to overuse transition words or use them as filler to bump word counts.