Transitional Words and Phrases

Transitional words and phrases are devices that help you carry an idea from one sentence or paragraph to another. They link sentences and paragraphs together smoothly, preventing abrupt jumps in the flow of your writing and clarifying the relationship between ideas that you are expressing. Which transitional word or phrase you should use on depends on how the ideas that you are transitioning between relate to one another. Here are some of the most common transitional devices in the English language, grouped to together by the relationships that they express or imply.

Transitions that Add to and Build Upon

Use the words and phrases and, again, and then, besides, equally important, finally, further, furthermore, nor, too, next, lastly, what’s more, moreover, and in addition when you are adding to or building upon a previous idea.

Most employees dislike frequent meetings. Furthermore, many studies have shown them to be counterproductive.

The idea that holding too many meetings is counterproductive provides another reason why the practice should be discontinued.

Comparison and Contrast

When you want to compare or contrast the relationship between two ideas, use transitions such as whereas, but, yet, on the other hand, however, nevertheless, on the contrary, by comparison, where, compared to, up against, balanced against, vis a vis, but, although, conversely, meanwhile, after all, in contrast, and although this may be true.

Mass transit provides an inexpensive and efficient way to get to and from work without dealing with the nightmare that is rush hour traffic. On the other hand, driving affords a person the convenience of being able to leave whenever he or she wishes, without having to adjust his or her schedule to that of a bus or rail line.

The benefits of driving are being contrasted with those of riding mass transit.

Proving a Point

The transitions because, for, since, for the same reason, obviously, evidently, furthermore, moreover, besides, indeed, in fact, in addition, in any case, and that is are useful when you are providing a “why” for a previously expressed “what” or underscoring a particular idea.

The handful of studies conducted so far has had serious shortcomings. Because of this, more and better research is needed before we can draw a conclusion on the topic.

The second sentence drives home the point that a greater number of high-quality studies are necessary.

Showing an Exception

Yet, still, however, nevertheless, in spite of, despite, of course, once in a while, and sometimes should be used when a sentence expresses an idea that is an exception to or a contradiction of what has come before.

Digital recordings provide the cleanest, most accurate reproduction of music currently available. Nevertheless, many self-described music “purists” prefer vinyl records for their warmer and more organic sound. 

Some people still prefer the subjective listening experience of vinyl over the objective superiority of digital releases.

Showing Time

Expressing the relative passage of time can be accomplished with immediately, thereafter, soon, after a few hours, finally, then, later, previously, formerly, first (second, etc.), next, and then.

Shamin moved to Georgia as part of her promotion. Shortly thereafter, she began taking English classes at the English Island in Atlanta.

Shamin was in Georgia for a relatively brief period of time before she contacted the English Island.

Repeating an Idea

When you repeat or return to an earlier idea, you’ll want to use transitions like in brief, as I have said, as I have noted, and as has been noted.

As I have noted, even experienced professionals can have a fear of public speaking.

Earlier in this hypothetical essay, the author briefly mentioned how common public speaking fears are among business professionals. Now he or she wants to explore the topic further.

Emphasizing a Point

Definitely, extremely, obviously, in fact, indeed, in any case, absolutely, positively, naturally, surprisingly, always, forever, perennially, eternally, never, emphatically, unquestionably, without a doubt, certainly, undeniably, and without reservation can be used to reinforce a point that you have already made.

Marie found baseball to be incredibly boring. Indeed, she could not remember one moment that she found exciting in all the times that her friends had dragged her to Braves games.

Marie’s inability to recall a single exciting experience at a baseball game emphasizes just how boring she finds the sport.

Showing a Sequence of Events

You can use words and phrases such as first, second, third, and so forth. A, B, C, and so forth. next, then, following this, at this time, now, at this point, after, afterward, subsequently, finally, consequently, previously, before this, simultaneously, concurrently, thus, therefore, hence, next, and then, and soon to indicate relative and/or sequential order.

First, Carlos moved to Metro Atlanta. Then he took classes at the English Island.

Carlos moved to the Atlanta area before he took English Island classes.

Providing an Example

For example, for instance, in this case, in another case, on this occasion, in this situation, take the case of, to demonstrate, to illustrate, as an illustration, and to illustrate indicate that you are following an abstract concept with a concrete example.

We each have our own peculiar daily rituals that others may find odd. For example, I check the mail every day of the week, even on Sundays.

My insistence on checking the mail even on the day when it is not delivered is a specific example of a peculiar daily ritual.

Summarizing or Concluding a Thought

When you’re almost done writing and it’s time to wrap things up, you can use transitions like in brief, on the whole, summing up, to conclude, in conclusion, as I have shown, as I have said, hence, therefore, accordingly, thus, as a result, and consequently to conclude what you have written.

In conclusion, transitional words and phrases have many different uses in the English language.