How to Use Transition Words in an Essay

How to Use Transition Words in an Essay
How to Use Transition Words in an Essay

One of the fundamental requirements of a piece of writing is that it has to be appealing to the reader. Imagine you spend hours on your assignment. But you’ve written it in such a manner that no one wants to read it. That’s not what you want to achieve, is it? Well, a simple way to make your writing more attractive is to use transitions. Let’s learn what those are in more detail.

What are Transition Words?

Think about what makes any writing stand out. Good development is crucial. You certainly can’t do without unity of thought. But another vital characteristic is coherency. Many students hire MyAssignmentHelp essay writing services because they struggle with this.

Your writing should have a good flow so readers aren’t confused about the connection between ideas. That’s where transition words shine. These are certain words or phrases that connect ideas and help the reader move from one topic to the other smoothly. These are some of the many ways you can achieve better cohesion in your writing.

Let’s consider two examples, one with transition words and one without:

The earthquake caused a lot of destruction. No lives were lost. Communication took a toll. Too many mobile towers had fallen over. [Without] 

The earthquake caused a lot of destruction. No lives were lost, but communication took a toll because too many mobile towers had fallen over. [With]

Which one is smooth to read? Clearly, the second option is the better option. Not only does it read better, but it also helps you connect the ideas in a logical manner. Now, you might be tempted to use such words frequently in your writing. Hold up! You can’t use them indiscriminately. There are rules you have to follow. Let’s check them out in the next section.

How Should You Use Transition Words in an Essay?

Transition words are in charge of presenting the writer’s ideas in an organised fashion. They forge connections and help maintain the logical flow of the entire work. Just go through any piece of work. Do you notice “because,” “but,” “however,” and “too” in them? These are some very common examples. Now, where should you use them?

Usually, such words are used when a new sentence starts or in the middle of a sentence to separate two clauses. In the first instance, the word connects the two seemingly separate sentences. But if you look closer, you’ll be able to notice a logical connection between the two. When the word or phrase appears between two clauses, it shows how one relates to the other.

Example 1: The family left early to reach the airport. However, they missed their flight due to excessive traffic congestion.

Example 2: The student suffers from intense stress symptoms, namely, headaches, migraines, and loss of appetite.

In the first example, you find a conflict. When you read the first sentence, you expect the family to reach the airport on time. But the next sentence begins with an adversative transition word – “however.” This implies that there is a conflict that prevents the expected outcome.

In the second example, the transition word provides more information. It clarifies the details about the stress symptoms experienced by the student.

As you can see, these words establish a relation. Now, certain transitional words denote particular relations. You can also divide them into four major categories. Let’s take a closer look at them.

  • Additive

You can often use transition words to add meaning. They might help clarify a preceding sentence, bring up a comparison, introduce something, draw a similarity, or just expand upon something mentioned already. Some words that fall under this category are:

Likewise Furthermore In addition to
Similarly Coupled with Considering this result
Namely For instance Moreover
  • Causal

For every cause, there is an effect. There are quite a few words that you can use to denote a causal relationship between two sentences or clauses. Now, you have three major kinds that you have to consider – words that denote a purpose, a condition, and an action. Here are some examples for better understanding:

Because Since For fear of
Unless Due to So that
In case In the event of Otherwise
  • Adversative

Remember the example of the family missing their flight? That was an example of an adversative transitional word. Let’s put it in simple terms. Such words or clauses will always denote a contrast. They can conflict with something mentioned in the preceding sentence or express a dismissal. Let’s check a few examples:

On the contrary Above all Unlike
However Instead As much as
Nevertheless Although Granted
  • Sequential

Have you ever read a recipe book or an instruction manual? There’s a high chance you’ll come across sequential transitional words there. These are meant to denote a sequence whenever a set of events occur chronologically. Go through the examples below. You’ll surely recognize a few.

First Lastly To conclude
Second Afterwards In summary
Subsequently To begin with At any rate

These are just a few of the several transitional words you’ll encounter throughout your life. Click here if you want to explore more signals and examples. As you go through more transitional words, you’ll realize a few important things –

  • You can use the same words or phrases for different signals.
  • Context matters a lot when determining which signal to choose.
  • You cannot interchange words signifying the same signal.

It’s challenging to master transition words and phrases in a short time. It becomes more challenging if you don’t speak English as your first language. Be at ease, though! But don’t worry! Once you go through the various kinds of transitions, you’ll start getting the hang of it. But beware of the mistakes most students tend to make. Check out the section below for more details.

Common Transition Words and Phrases Mistakes

Transitional words and phrases seem complex because you have to understand the context in many cases. Let’s check an example. Did you notice that a few words felt more formal than others? Well, that’s because they are mainly used in academic or professional contexts. So, if you use them in informal contexts, your sentence won’t read well.

Example: I went all the way to her house to cheer her up. Therefore, I returned late.

Technically, this sentence is fine. But your use of the transitional word “therefore” feels out of place. It’s too formal for the context of the sentence. If you would replace “therefore” with “that’s why,” it would feel more appropriate.

Another common mistake is to ignore the subtle differences between two seemingly similar transition words or phrases. For example, many students use ‘and’ and ‘as well as’ interchangeably. But that’s not right! Even though both are additive, “as well as” implies that the information following the phrase is not as important as the one preceding it. However, “and” joins two equally important sentences, objects, persons, etc.

Example 1: The king called for his queen, the generals, as well as the chambermaids.

Example 2: After the rain started pouring, they decided to visit the small garden and check up on the flowers.

In the first instance, it’s clear that chambermaids are low on the hierarchy and importance. That’s why you can use “as well as”. But that’s not the case for the second sentence. Deciding to visit the garden is as important as checking up on the flowers. So, it’s more appropriate to use “and” in this case.

You need to consider the placement of your transition words as well. Usually, you’ll find them in the beginning or the middle of the sentence. So, you might not think twice before using “and,” “also,” or “so” as the first word of your sentence. But that’s only used in informal writing. You can’t begin your sentence with those words in any professional or academic context.

In conclusion,

Mastering transitional words and phrases can guarantee better comprehension and flow of writing. But it’s not an easy journey. Such words are heavily reliant on contexts. Moreover, you have to know their right placements and maintain a balance throughout your writing to avoid overusing them. It appears to be labor-intensive. But resist giving up. With a little practice, you can use such words and phrases in your writing like a pro. Good luck!

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John Smith
An engineer by degree and blogger by choice. Interested in writing the latest updates happening around the world. Loves to binge watch tv-series and movies.


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