Transition Words and Phrases: Linking Thoughts Together

When we write, we are constantly linking thoughts together like a chain.  We are taking the reader from one thought or argument to the next as we lead them through our paper.  Without transition sentences, our thoughts appear abrupt or scattered, leaving the reader to wonder why we have switched subjects without letting them know!

What makes the use of transition sentences difficult is that we don’t use them as much when we speak – unless we are giving a speech or sermon.  But, in writing, they are important because they provide a “flow of thought” and keep the reader engaged with the ideas we are presenting.

In order to effectively use transition words and sentences, we must first know what we want to say.  The best tool we can have in place when we write is an outline.  Without an outline, our writing will seem less uniform and less structured.  Once we have an outline to work from, we can begin using transitions effectively.  Below are a list of transitional words to reference when you write.  These words will link sentences together.  The transition words are in bold.  For more examples, feel free to look up any of these words in a thesaurus.

Examples of Transition Words

 Adding Emphasis:

  • Indeed the young man was handsome.
  • In fact, all the test subjects said they experienced a better quality of life after taking the drug.
  • Above all, there was not a single instance of criminal activity during the trial period.

Adding Time and Tensed Transitions:

  • Then he heard the phone ring and ran into the other room.
  • Immediately chills ran down his spine.
  • Later they enjoyed an ice cream cone while they talked about their day.

Adding Space Transitions:

  • Across the room Jimmy jumped out the window.
  • From inside the castle, the Count could be heard laughing.
  • Next to the soldier were bullets that fell from his own gun.

Adding Contrast:

  • However, the boy was angry and refused to play nice.
  • But her point was still valid and she knew it.
  • Nevertheless he laughed despite being covered in mud.

Adding Concession:

  • Although he still wanted to win and was not willing to give up.
  • Granted she was too young to understand, she still nodded her head.
  • Of course, David continued to run as if his life depended on it.

Adding Conclusions:

  • Therefore, he concluded that his life was not in vain.
  • Finally the mission was over and she could rest.
  • In conclusion, we find the evidence in favor of the defendant.

Download a list of transition words

(click the link above once to download directly to your computer)

Transition Sentences

Whereas transitional words help the reader move from one sentence to the next, transitional sentences help the reader move from one paragraph to the next.  Because transitional sentences are linking two paragraphs together, they are usually used at the beginning of a new paragraph or the end of the last paragraph.  These take a bit of practice, but pay off in the end.  Here’s an example of transition sentences at work!

“Thomas Aquinas was a very influential figure in Catholicism.  Not only was he an important Catholic theologian, he was also a first-rate philosopher of religion.  Aquinas wrote what are called his 5 “ways” or 5 lines of evidence for the existence of God.  These arguments were a major step forward  for philosophy because they relied only on reason, instead of revelation, to “prove” God’s existence.

But his “five ways” was not his only contribution to the field of philosophy.  He wrote extensively about the role of reason and knowledge as well. . .”

Notice how the transition sentence above points back to the previous paragraph, while also hinting about what the next paragraph is about.  It links what was said with what is about to be said.  After reading that transition sentence, readers are expecting to hear about Aquinas’ other contributions to philosophy besides those just mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Not only do transitions serve as an important function in writing, they also allow us a greater variety of flexibility and artistic expression while we write.  Happy writing!



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