Transitions are words or phrases that connect (link) ideas. The ideas may be in a sentence or in a longer text. Transitions help you to become a better writer (and communicator) because they help the reader (or listener) to follow what you are writing or saying. They help ideas flow smoothly and clearly. Transitions are often used to show:
∗ contrast: however, nonetheless, on the other hand
∗ cause and effect: therefore, thus, as a result
∗ concession: of course, with this in mind, in view of …
∗ example: to demonstrate, for instance, for example
∗ addition: as a matter of fact, in addition, in the first place
(See below for links to extensive lists of Transitions.)
Now, have a look at the following two sentences:
Attitudes to drug usage in sport are shifting. Fewer athletes use them.
How are attitudes shifting? Is drug usage becoming more or less acceptable? Using a transition can help the reader follow your thoughts.
♦ Attitudes to drug usage in sport are shifting. However, fewer athletes are using them.
♦ Attitudes to drug usage in sport are shifting. As a result, fewer athletes are using them.
♦ Attitudes to drug usage in sport are shifting. In conclusion, fewer athletes are using them.
Transitions are not conjunctions. The punctuation rules are different. There are two ways to punctuate them:
- (As above) Transition + comma + independent clause
- (See below) semi-colon + transition + comma + independent clause
♦ Attitudes to drug usage in sport are shifting; however, fewer athletes are using them.
♦ Attitudes to drug usage in sport are shifting; as a result, fewer athletes are using them.
♦ Attitudes to drug usage in sport are shifting; in conclusion, fewer athletes are using them.
By the way, there are many useful transitions for you to use apart from those you may see in Transition lists like the ones I’ve listed below. A lot of expressions you may think of to link your ideas may be transitions. Use the punctuation rules above and see what you can come up with.
I use transitions when writing posts for this blog. My aim is to make these posts as easy to read as possible! I have used three transitions in this post:
- First, – This is the first word in this post. It connects my ideas in the post to the heading.
- Now, – This word connects my transition examples to sentences which show how to use them.
- By the way, – This transitional phrase is a common way to add more ideas to what you have already said. After explaining the rules and giving examples, I wanted to add that you can find more examples of transitions if you are interested.
∗∗ As you can see, none of the transitions I used connected sentences. Transitions do not connect sentences. Transitions connect ideas.
For a list of common transitions with detailed examples, click here.
For further examples and practice exercises, click here.