What are transition words?
Transition words are used to connect ideas and show flow. They help readers move through complex ideas, establish relationships and connections between ideas as well.
Below is a list of words you can use to guide your reader through your essays or stories.
The most basic transition words are conjunctions. They join words, phrases, or clauses together. Good examples of this are words like “and,” “but” and “or” as they connect two sentences together:
- I drove to school, and I got there just in time.
- I drove home, but I was still late for dinner.
As you can see in the examples above, the conjunctions serve different purposes.
- The first conjunctive “and” connects the two occurrences equally.
- The second conjunctive “but” introduces a contrast.
Knowing the different categories of transition words will also help you choose the best ones to get your point across.
WRITER’S HANDBOOK > IMPROVING YOUR WRITING STYLE > TRANSITIONAL WORDS AND PHRASES
Single Transition Words
accordingly, additionally, afterward, afterwards, albeit, also, although, altogether, another,
basically, because, before, besides, but, certainly, chiefly, comparatively, concurrently,
consequently, contrarily, conversely, correspondingly, despite, doubtedly, during, e.g.,
earlier, emphatically, equally, especially, eventually, evidently, explicitly, finally, firstly,
following, formerly, forthwith, fourthly, further, furthermore, generally, hence, henceforth,
however, i.e., identically, indeed, instead, last, lastly, later, lest, likewise, markedly, meanwhile,
moreover, nevertheless, nonetheless, nor, notwithstanding, obviously, occasionally, otherwise,
overall, particularly, presently, previously, rather, regardless, secondly, shortly, significantly,
similarly, simultaneously, since, so, soon, specifically, still, straightaway, subsequently, surely,
surprisingly, than, then, thereafter, therefore, thereupon, thirdly, though, thus, till, undeniably,
undoubtedly, unless, unlike, unquestionably, until, when, whenever, whereas, while…
Multiple Transition Words
above all, after all, after that, all in all, all of a sudden, all things considered, analogous to,
although this may be true, analogous to, another key point,
as a matter of fact, as a result, as an illustration, as can be seen, as has been noted, as I have noted, as I have said, as I have shown, as long as, as much as, as shown above, as soon as, as well as,
at any rate, at first, at last, at least, at length, at the present time, at the same time, at this instant, at this point, at this time,
balanced against, being that, by all means, by and large,
by comparison, by the same token, by the time, compared to, be that as it may,
coupled with, different from, due to, equally important, even if, even more, even so,
even though, first thing to remember, for example, for fear that, for instance,
for one thing, for that reason, for the most part, for the purpose of, for the same reason,
for this purpose, for this reason, from time to time, given that, given these points,
important to realize,
in a word, in addition, in another case, in any case, in any event, in brief, in case, in conclusion, in contrast, in detail, in due time, in effect, in either case, in essence, in fact, in general, in light of, in like fashion, in like manner, in order that, in order to, in other words, in particular, in reality, in short, in similar fashion, in spite of, in sum, in summary, in that case, in the event that, in the final analysis, in the first place, in the fourth place, in the hope that, in the light of, in the long run, in the meantime, in the same fashion, in the same way, in the second place, in the third place, in this case, in this situation, in time, in truth, in view of, inasmuch as,
most compelling evidence, most important, must be remembered, not to mention,
now that, of course,
on account of, on balance, on condition that, on one hand, on the condition that, on the contrary, on the negative side, on the other hand, on the positive side, on the whole, on this occasion,
once, once in a while, only if, owing to, point often overlooked, prior to, provided that,
seeing that, so as to, so far, so long as, so that, sooner or later, such as,
summing up, take the case of, that is, that is to say, then again, this time,
to be sure, to begin with, to clarify, to conclude, to demonstrate, to emphasize, to enumerate, to explain, to illustrate, to list, to point out, to put it another way, to put it differently, to repeat, to rephrase it, to say nothing of, to sum up, to summarize, to that end, to the end that, to this end,
together with, under those circumstances, until now, up against,
up to the present time, vis a vis, what’s more, while it may be true, while this may be true,
with attention to, with the result that, with this in mind, with this intention, with this purpose in mind, without a doubt, without delay, without doubt, without reservation…
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824. Fax: 517.353.5250 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can see a break down of word into categories here: https://tech.msu.edu/about/guidelines-policies/afs-retirement/;
Agreement / Addition / Similarity
Transition words like also, in addition, and, likewise, add information, reinforce ideas, and express agreement with preceding material.
in the first place
not only … but also
as a matter of fact
in like manner
in the same fashion / way
first, second, third
in the light of
not to mention
to say nothing of
by the same token
as well as
Opposition / Limitation / Contradiction
Transition phrases like but, rather and or, express that there is evidence to the contrary or point out alternatives, and thus introduce a change the line of reasoning (contrast).
although this may be true
of course …, but
on the other hand
on the contrary
at the same time
in spite of
even so / though
be that as it may
as much as
Cause / Condition / Purpose
These transitional phrases present specific conditions or intentions.
in the event that
as / so long as
on (the) condition (that)
for the purpose of
with this intention
with this in mind
in the hope that
to the end that
for fear that
in order to
seeing / being that
in view of
only / even if
so as to
Examples / Support / Emphasis
These transitional devices (like especially) are used to introduce examples as support, to indicate importance or as an illustration so that an idea is cued to the reader.
in other words
to put it differently
for one thing
as an illustration
in this case
for this reason
to put it another way
that is to say
with attention to
by all means
important to realize
another key point
first thing to remember
most compelling evidence
must be remembered
point often overlooked
to point out
on the positive side
on the negative side
with this in mind
to be sure
Effect / Consequence / Result
Some of these transition words (thus, then, accordingly, consequently, therefore, henceforth) are time words that show after a particular time there was a consequence or an effect.
Note that for and because are placed before the cause/reason. The other devices are placed before the consequences or effects.
as a result
under those circumstances
in that case
for this reason
Conclusion / Summary / Restatement
These transition words and phrases conclude, summarize and / or restate ideas, or indicate a final general statement. Also some words (like therefore) from the Effect / Consequence category can be used to summarize.
as can be seen
in the final analysis
all things considered
as shown above
in the long run
given these points
as has been noted
in a word
for the most part
by and large
to sum up
on the whole
in any event
in either case
all in all
Time / Chronology / Sequence
Transitional words (like finally) have the function of limiting, restricting, and defining time. They can be used either alone or as part of adverbial expressions.
at the present time
from time to time
sooner or later
at the same time
up to the present time
to begin with
in due time
as soon as
as long as
in the meantime
in a moment
in the first place
all of a sudden
at this instant
by the time
Many transition words in the time category (consequently; first, second, third; further; hence; henceforth; since; then, when; and whenever) have other uses.
Except for the numbers (first, second, third) and further they add a meaning of time in expressing conditions, qualifications, or reasons. The numbers are also used to add information or list examples. Further is also used to indicate added space as well as added time.
Space / Location / Place
These transition words are often used as part of adverbial expressions and have the function to restrict, limit or qualify space. Quite a few of these are also found in the Time category and can be used to describe spatial order or spatial reference.
in the middle
to the left/right
in front of
on this side
in the distance
here and there
in the foreground
in the background
in the center of
Usage of Transition Words in Essays
Transition words and phrases are vital devices for essays, papers or other literary compositions. They improve the connections and transitions between sentences and paragraphs. They thus give the text a logical organization and structure.
All English transition words and phrases (sometimes also called ‘conjunctive adverbs’) do the same work as coordinating conjunctions: they connect two words, phrases or clauses together and thus the text is easier to read and the coherence is improved.
Usage: transition words are used with a special rule for punctuation: a semicolon or a period is used after the first ‘sentence’, and a comma is almost always used to set off the transition word from the second ‘sentence’.
People use 43 muscles when they frown; however, they use only 28 muscles when they smile.
However, transition words can also be placed at the beginning of a new paragraph or sentence – not only to indicate a step forward in the reasoning, but also to relate the new material to the preceding thoughts.
Use a semicolon to connect sentences, only if the group of words on either side of the semicolon is a complete sentence each (both must have a subject and a verb, and could thus stand alone as a complete thought).