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Transitional Words and Phrases

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Overview: In order for your writing to be coherent, it must flow smoothly from one point to the next. One way to ensure that your reader can follow your argument as he or she moves between sentences and paragraphs is through the use of Transitions.

Transitions are words and short phrases that help guide your reader through your writing. They allow for smooth progression from sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph and help your reader make certain connections between ideas. For example, beginning a sentence with however alerts the reader that the upcoming sentence will somehow contrast with the previous one. On the other hand, in addition informs the reader that you are adding another fact or idea to the topic being discussed. Notice that, in the previous sentences, the transitions for example and on the other hand were used to show a specific case and a contrast between ideas.

 

Here is a list of transitional terms:

To indicate addition

 

again

also

and

and then

another

besides

but also

equally important

finally

first

further

furthermore

in addition

in fact

last

lastly

likewise

moreover

next

nor

plus the fact that

secondly

then too

thirdly

too

To show contrast

 

although

anyhow

anyway

at the same time

but

despite this

even though

for all that

however

in any event

in contrast

instead

nevertheless

notwithstanding

on the contrary

on the other hand

otherwise

still

yet

 

 

 

 

To indicate place

 

above

across

adjacent to

below

beneath

beside

between

beyond

farther

here

nearby

nearer

on the

opposite side

opposite to

over there

under

 

To indicate time

 

after a few days

afterward

at last

at length

before

between

finally

immediately

in the meantime

later

meanwhile

next

soon

then

while

 

To show summary or repetition

 

as has been noted

as I have said

finally

in brief

in closing

in conclusion

in essence

in other words

in short

in summary

on the whole

to conclude

to sum up

To introduce a result

accordingly

as a result

because

consequently

for this reason

hence

so

then

therefore

thereupon

thus

To introduce an example

a few of these are

especially

for example

for instance

in particular

let us consider

an example

the following

you can see this in

the case of

 

To indicate amount

few

greater

many

more than

most

over

under

several

smaller

some

 

To introduce a less important point

of course

no doubt

doubtless

to be sure

granted (that)

certainly

 

To indicate purpose

all things considered

for this purpose

to this end

with this in mind

with this object

 

To show comparison

in like manner

in the same way

likewise

similarly

To return to your point after a counterargument

still

nevertheless

notwithstanding

 

To strengthen a point

essentially

indeed

truly

undeniably

To concede a point

although

though

whereas

without a doubt

 

 

 

Style Matters: Using transitional terms will help you to guide your reader through your writing. However, remember not to overuse them. While it is essential to use some transitional terms, your writing itself should be unified enough so that transitional terms are not necessary for every sentence, and using them in nearly every sentence can make your writing muddled and wordy.  With this in mind, try looking at a piece of your writing and circling the transitional terms using the chart above. Think about whether the terms you have chosen are appropriate for the situation and writing task. Also, consider whether you should use more or fewer transitional terms. Try to vary the transitional terms that you use to keep your reader interested while ensuring that your writing flows.


Copyright (C) 2014. All rights reserved.
This handout is part of a library of instructional materials used in California State University, Long Beach’s writing center, the Writer’s Resource Lab. Educators and students are welcome to distribute copies as long as they do so with attribution to all organizations and authors. Commercial distribution is prohibited.