A bridge in an essay is a tool that helps the author to connect ideas and to transition smoothly from one point to another. It can be used to clarify a point that has been made, to introduce a new idea, or to sum up the main points of the essay. A well-written bridge can help keep the reader’s attention focused on the essay and make the writing style more fluid.
Let’s refresh our memory a bit regarding the essay structure:
The first section is the introductory paragraph, in which you present your thesis statement or main argument. The body paragraphs are where you develop your argument, and each body paragraph should focus on a single point. The conclusion is where you wrap up your essay, and it should rephrase your thesis statement.
A bridge sentence—also known as a bridge statement—is a type of topic sentence typically found and used at the start of a body paragraph. The key functions of this transition sentence are to show the direction of the paragraph’s main idea and how it is related to the previous paragraph.
There are a few things to keep in mind when writing a bridge sentence:
- Make sure the bridge is relevant to the two ideas or concepts you are connecting.
- Keep the bridge brief and to the point.
- Use such words and phrases that will help create a smooth transition between ideas.
Bridge sentence types and examples
Among bridge sentences, three main types are usually used: a classic bridge sentence, a question-answer bridge, and a complication bridge. They all have three things in common:
- The use of a “pointer” word that directs the reader’s attention to the previous paragraph
- A part of the sentence that serves as a reference to that previous point
- And a part that is related to the topic of the current paragraph
These three things are the main elements of most bridge sentences.
Now let’s look at each type’s examples to see the common points and the differences. First, we will present the last sentence of a previous paragraph and then a color-coded bridge of each type.
Let’s consider this as the last sentence of our previous paragraph of an essay that discusses various printers:
The inkjet printer is the most popular type of printer for home use. It is less expensive than a laser printer and produces good quality prints.
Here’s an example of a classic bridge sentence:
This advantage makes an inkjet printer one of the best choices for home offices. But besides reasonable prices and printing quality, it is also worth mentioning how easy it is to use inkjet printers.
We start by pointing to the previous passage (this advantage) and then introduce the topic for a new paragraph (how easy it is to use).
Here’s an example of a question-answer bridge:
But does this price and quality advantage make inkjet printers the best choice? Surely not, because laser printers would not be on the market in such a case. When comparing the two, inkjet printers lose in terms of printing speed and ink usage.
This example has a question that serves as the “pointer” to the previous paragraph. And the answer to this question introduces the main point of the current paragraph.
And here’s an example of a complication bridge:
Such an advantage of inkjet printers might be decisive for many; however, inkjet printers are not as fast as laser printers, and they use more ink.
As you can see, the example above has a “pointer” word (such) that refers to the previous paragraph. It has a transition word (however) that signals to the reader that it is not that simple. Then, it also provides a reference to the previous paragraph (the inkjet printer’s better price advantage), and it states the main point of the current paragraph (laser printers are faster and more economical).
Ways of making logical connections and transitions
There are many ways in which you can connect two ideas. It depends on the essay types: whether you are comparing, arguing, classifying things, etc. Let’s take a look at some schematic examples:
- Making an example: (The next point) clearly illustrates that (the previous point) by…
- Showing cause-effect relationship: (The previous point) led to / has allowed/ directly caused / was the reason / results in (the next point)…
- Giving a counterexample: Even though (the previous) is normally the case, (the next point)…
- Emphasizing a point: (The previous point) is essential / is vital / cannot be omitted because (the next point)…
- Contrasting: (The previous point) differs from (the next point) in how…
- Comparing: (The previous point) is similar to / can be compared with / has some similarities with (the next point)…
- Sequencing: (The previous point) comes before / comes after / is the next (the next point)…
- Proving: (The previous point) means / indicates / proves / implicates that (the next point)…
- Complicating: Yes, (the previous point), but because of that, (the next point)…
- Adding precision: The researchers explain in more detail (the previous point) in their paper regarding (the next point)…
- Clarifying: Yes, (the previous point) is sometimes the case, but it doesn’t mean (the next point)…
Transitional keywords to use
Words that can help you introduce the next paragraph are called “transitional keywords.” Here is a list of some common transitional keywords:
- To introduce the next point:
- accordingly, as a result, consequently, for this reason, hence, subsequently, therefore
- To refer to the previous point:
- according to, as previously stated, before, initially, formerly, earlier, previously
- To introduce the conclusion paragraph:
- finally, in conclusion, in brief, in sum, in summary, on the whole, thus, in short
- To show similarity:
- also, similarly to, likewise, in the same way, as well as, too, much like
- To show contrast:
- conversely, alternatively, on the other hand, by contrast, in contrast, on the contrary, in contrast to, opposite to, but, however
- To give an example:
- for instance, for example, such as, take the case of, to illustrate, imagine, to show you what I mean, suppose that
- To show causation:
- according to, as a result of, because, due to, for this reason, since, therefore, thus
- To show time relations:
- after, afterward, before, subsequently, then, while, whenever
- To show space relations:
- above, adjacent, below, beyond, here, in front of, nearby, opposite
- When writing an essay, it is crucial to ensure a logical connection and a smooth flow between the paragraphs.
- This logical connection can be created in various ways, for example, by using a bridge statement.
- A bridge is an opening statement that connects two ideas by “pointing” to the previous paragraph and introducing the topic of the next paragraph.
- There are many ways to create a logical connection between two ideas, and it depends on the type of essay you are writing.
Now that you know what a bridge sentence is and how to use it, try incorporating it into your next essay!
- California State University Northridge – Transitional Words and Phrases
- The College of Saint Rose – Transition Sentences
- University of Colorado – Transitions: Building Bridges Between Ideas