Transition Words for Essays

When writing an essay, it is essential to use transition words so that your ideas flow smoothly. Transitions are also called linking words. They help create coherence by indicating relationships between paragraphs and sections of your essay and linking them together.

Why are transition words important?

Transitional words signal changes in the order, focus, or organization of your paper. They may also signal changes in relationships between ideas. Without good transition words, your writing will sound choppy and disconnected. That, in turn, can make it harder for the reader to understand your argument.

Are transition words and conjunctions the same?

No, transition words and conjunctions are not the same. Conjunctions are used to join two independent clauses together, while transition words are used to connect two ideas within a single sentence. However, there are some instances where conjunctions can be used as transitions (e.g., “However, and, etc.”).

To learn more about word choice in essays in general, we suggest reading our separate article: Words to Use in Academic Writing

How transitions work

In order to understand how transitional words and phrases can help you move from one idea to another in your essay, it is vital first to understand what transitions are and how they work.

A transition is a word, phrase, or sentence that connects two paragraphs or sections of your essay. Transitions help readers understand the connection between the ideas in your essay.

For example, if you are discussing the use of color in a work of art, you might use the following transition: “However, when used excessively, color can be overwhelming.” This transition signals to the reader that you are changing the focus of your discussion from the use of color to its effects.

Where to use transition words

Now that you know basic principles let’s look at three main transition types based on where you use them in writing.

1. Between sections: These transitions are usually used in longer pieces. In such cases, an entire paragraph might be used as a transition to summarize the previous part before moving on to the next section.

2. Between paragraphs: These are typically used to ensure one paragraph transitions well to the next. Such a transition can be a word, a phrase, or an entire sentence. As for the placement, they are usually used at the end of one paragraph, at the start of the following paragraph, or both.

3. Between sentences: These transition words are usually used to connect two main ideas in different sentences. In such cases, it is typically one word or a short phrase, such as “however,” “in addition,” or “as a result.”

Remember that these transitions do not always have to be used at the beginning or end of a paragraph. In fact, they can be used anywhere in your essay to move from one idea to another.

Examples of transitional words and phrases to use

The list of words below is far from being exhaustive, but it will give you some transition words and phrases to help you get started. Also, remember that words can have different shades of meanings, so make sure to consult a dictionary if you are unsure about a particular word or phrase.

Transition words by their overall purpose

  • Addition: and, in addition to, moreover, first, second, finally, also, too, as well, in fact.
  • Cause-Effect: therefore, thus, as a result, consequently, due to, then, accordingly, resulting in, because of, hence.
  • Chronology: at first, to begin with, presently, in the meantime, afterward, finally, meanwhile, during, earlier, later.
  • Clarification: in other words, that is to say, namely, to put it differently, that is, in simple terms, to rephrase it.
  • Comparison: similarly, likewise, in the same way, just as, in a similar way\manner\fashion.
  • Concession: even though, despite, in spite of, notwithstanding, yet, still, however, nevertheless, regardless.
  • Condition: if, provided that, on condition that, unless, in case, granted that, given that.
  • Contrast: but, on the other hand, however, alternatively, while, whereas, though, in contrast, on the contrary.
  • Emphasis: above all, indeed, most important, primarily, certainly, surely, in fact, still, by all means.
  • Example: for instance, to illustrate, in other words, specifically, such as, that is to say, take the case of.
  • Limitation: except for, unless, up to, not exceeding, save for, although this may be true, then again, in reality.
  • Location: nearby, beyond, adjacent to, opposite of, upstairs/downstairs, in the front/back, here, there
  • Opinion: in my opinion, to my way of thinking, it seems to me that, from where I stand, I am. convinced that, it is my belief that.
  • Order: firstly, secondly, last but not least, in conclusion, for one thing… for another, finally.
  • Possibility: possibly, probably, most likely, it is conceivable that, it is doubtful that, it is unlikely that, with any luck.
  • Restatement: in other words, as has been noted, as shown above, to put it differently, that is to say.
  • Summary: to sum up, in conclusion, all in all, in brief, in sum, in essence, in summary, to summarize, all things considered, given all the above, overall, ultimately.
  • Time: at present, these days, presently, now, currently, lately, recently, at the same time, all at once, sooner or later, in due time, in the meantime, in a moment, after a while.

Transition words for argumentative essays

When writing an argumentative essay, you might use the following transition words and phrases:

  • However – introduces a contrasting idea
  • Nonetheless – emphasizes a point despite something else
  • Moreover – adds another relevant point
  • In addition – also introduces another relevant point
  • Furthermore – adds yet another relevant point
  • On the other hand – presents an opposing view
  • All in all – summarizes everything that has been said
  • As can be seen – points to evidence that supports the argument being made
  • As a result – states the conclusion of the argument being made
  • In other words – presents the same idea in different words
  • To put it another way – also presents the same idea in different words
  • In the final analysis – states the overall conclusion of the argument being made

Transition words by their purpose with essays

  • Start a body paragraph: first, second, third, not only… but also, in addition to, moreover, furthermore, additionally, besides, apart from, aside from this.
    • First: to begin with, in the first place, first
    • Second: another reason why, pursuing this further, next
    • Third: lastly, finally, thirdly
  • Introduce evidence: for example, for instance, in other words, namely, specifically, to illustrate, in addition, in fact, as an illustration, more specifically, such as.
  • End a body paragraph: finally, in conclusion, in brief, on the whole, in any case, all things considered, given these points, to sum up.
  • Explain a quote: for example, for instance, in other words, namely.
  • Enhance your argument: admittedly, granted, of course, naturally, absolutely, undoubtedly, unquestionably.
  • Introduce an opposite idea: despite this, notwithstanding that, even so, in spite of, in defiance of
  • Conclude your essay: therefore, thus, as a result, consequently, due to this, hence, in other words, in summary.

Final tips on using transition words

Here are a few final tips to keep in mind when using transitions in your essay:

1. Use transition words sparingly: Overusing transitions can make your writing seem choppy or unclear. So, be sure to use them only when necessary.

2. Be consistent: Once you’ve decided which transitions to use, use them the same way throughout your essay. Consistency will make your writing flow better and make it more easily understandable for your reader.

3. Make sure they’re relevant: As with all writing, transitions should only be used if they are relevant to the topic at hand. You shouldn’t use them if they don’t add anything to your essay.

4. Plan ahead: Before you start writing, take a few minutes to plan out which transitions you’ll use and where you’ll use them. This will help your essay flow more smoothly and make it easier for your reader to follow your argument.

5. Practice: The best way to get better at using transitions is to practice using them. So, try writing a few essays with different transitions to get a feel for how they work. You can also ask a friend or family member to read your essay and point out any places where you could use transitions.

We hope this list of transition words for essays was helpful for you. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.

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