Content writing is not as easy as it sounds. And one of the hardest parts is finding the right words. For your complex ideas to be intelligible to the reader, they must be succinct, follow the rules of grammar, and have a good flow. This is where transitional words and phrases come into play.
The purpose of a transitional word or phrase is to improve the flow of the article so that each idea is meaningfully connected to the subsequent and previous one. This guide will explain different categories of transitional words and phrases as well as how to use them.
What Are Transitional Words and Phrases?
Transitional words and phrases are helpful for coherently connecting different ideas, so readers can progress from one idea to the other seamlessly. The goal of any kind of writing is to convey your ideas with precision and concision.
Transitional words and phrases build a relationship between two ideas.
Take a look at these sentences: “Pears are safe for dogs to eat. They should be consumed in moderation.”
Here, we have two ideas — one suggests that pears are safe for dogs while the other suggests they should be consumed moderately. It doesn’t quite add up when you read it like that.
Now, read this:
“Pears are safe for dogs to eat, but they should be consumed in moderation.”
In this case, “but” acts as the transitional word. Notice how the word unifies two seemingly contradictory statements into one coherent fact. It helps convey the idea that pears are safe for dogs to eat as long as you only feed them pears in moderate amounts.
In the first sentence, it was uncertain whether or not pears were safe for dogs. The second sentence made it clear that pears are safe, but there’s a condition. Using a connector like “but” helped explain the logical relationship between the two statements.
What Are the Different Categories of Transition Words and Phrases?
According to the Writing Center at the University of North Carolina, here are the various categories of transitional words and phrases used to express the logical relationship between information and ideas, along with examples.
#1. Similarity – Also, In the same way, Likewise, Similarly.
#2. Exception/Contrast – But, However, In spite of, Despite, Nevertheless, Nonetheless, On the contrary, Still, Yet.
#3. Sequence/Order – First, Second, Lastly, Finally, Next, Then.
#4. Time – Afterward, Before, Currently, Promptly, Meanwhile, Later, Recently, Simultaneously, Subsequently.
#5. Example – For Instance, For Example, Namely, To illustrate, To Demonstrate, Such as.
#6. Emphasis – Also, Especially, Certainly, Of course, Indeed, In particular, Truly, In fact.
#7. Place/Position – Above, Adjacent, Next to, Under, Below, Beside, On top of, Nearby, There, Beyond, Here.
#8. Cause And Effect – So, Therefore, Due to, Hence, As a result, Because, Consequently, Accordingly, Thus, Thereby.
#9. Additional Support Or Evidence – Additionally, Again, Furthermore, In addition to, Equally important, Not only, Or.
#10. Conclusion/Summary – Finally, In summation, To summarize, On a final note, In conclusion, Briefly, To sum up, In retrospect, To conclude.
How To Use Transition Words Effectively?
Transitions Within Sentences
Transitions within sentences tend to be short because each paragraph is intended to communicate only a small section of the idea. Using large connectors like “To further illustrate” within sentences reads odd and makes the text seem too wordy or confusing. One of the biggest rules in content writing is to be concise and avoid over-explaining things unless necessary. Readability is the number one priority.
Transition Words Between Paragraphs
Transition words between paragraphs should explain why you’re beginning a new paragraph for a given idea.
Let’s say you’re writing a laptop review guide and you end a paragraph with “… it contains lots of memory storage and gives you a high browsing speed.” You’re done discussing the physical features of the laptop and now you want to talk about another aspect, such as price.
The next paragraph should start something like “While all these features are incredibly nifty, this laptop is probably not the best choice in terms of value for money.”
In this example, “while” was the transitional phase. It inadvertently suggests the beginning of a new idea with a contradiction. In the first paragraph, you extol the virtues of the laptop, so without the word “while,” it wouldn’t make sense why the next paragraph disparages the same.
Transitions Between Sections
Transitions between sections of an essay or blog should suggest that one section is close to end and another one has begun. Words and phrases like “To summarize,” “Finally,” or “Furthermore” help to achieve that effect.