Transition Words - Definition And Examples

As a Matter Of Fact, You Need Some Transitions From Grade 5+. CCSSW.5.1c, CCSS.W.5.2c, CCSS.W.6.1c & CCSS.W.6.2c

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Let’s imagine that you’re back in elementary school, and you’ve written an essay or some other type of academic writing. You’ve probably been told that you need more transition words at some point or another.

Many writers omit or under-use these handy bits of the English language. However, transition words are indispensable in helping a reader follow your train of thought; they can jazz up your writing and make it shine.

What are Transition Words?

Despite what you may have expected, a “transition word” isn’t really a single word. They’re probably better called “transitional phrases.” Consequently, a “transition word” is any word or series of words that “transitions” the reader through the flow of your writing. Transition words help the reader connect one thought to the next.

Knowing what a transition word is, and using one, are two different things, and both need to be understood. Let’s look at some examples of transition words and how to use them.

Types of Transition Words and Examples

To up your writing skills, it's excellent to use transition words, but what are the different types?

There are several types of transition words, depending on the type of transition:

1. Additive Transitions

there are “additive transitions,” such as “moreover” or “in addition.” They add to and support previous ideas, show similarity, or reference.

  • I want to talk to you privately in addition to today's group meeting.

2. Adversative Transitions

there are also “adversative transitions,” such as “however” or “in contrast.” They contrast statements to show disagreement or acknowledge or contrast different points of view.

  • I like my present; however, this isn’t what I expected.

3. Causal Transitions

you have “causal transitions,” such as “consequently” or “as a result.” Think of these transition words as cause and effect.

  • As a result of our poor class exam results this month, we aren't going on the field trip.

4. Restatement Transitions

there are “restatement transitions.” In other words, things that summarize, such as “in short.”

  • I’d love to talk to you some more, but in short, we’re happy with your exam results.

5. Concession Transitions

you can have “concession transitions,” such as “admittedly” or “to tell the truth.”

  • I’ve never been a very confident swimmer, to tell you the truth.

6. Similarity Transitions

you see “similarity transitions,” such as “likewise” or “in the same manner.”

  • My sister Sarah hates vegetables, and I, likewise, don’t like green peppers.

7. Sequential Transitions

and lastly, you can find “sequential transitions,” such as “in the first place” or “to wrap it all up.” They can also give a chronological order to your work.

  • You shouldn’t have been in the kitchen in the first place!

Where do Transition Words go in a Sentence?

Using transitions to make your essay writing smoother isn't always easy. Some people think they should be at the beginning of a sentence, in the middle, or at the end of a paragraph. Well, a great transitional word will help your reader to follow a sentence, so as long as it makes sense, you can add them anywhere. But remember, transition words don't always have to go at the beginning of a sentence; likewise, they don't always have to go at the end. Our top tip for adding transition words is to read your work out loud; that way, you can see how it flows or if it distracts from the main point.

Types of Transition Word Flashcards

Flip the flashcards for more transition word examples.

What About Transition Sentences?

We’ve spent a lot of time on transition words, but let’s shift gears to talk about transition sentences. Transition sentences are even more critical than transition words if you want to write clearly. 

These sentences tie together the big ideas of your writing and make them easy to follow by explaining the logical relationships between your paragraphs, making for an effective transition between paragraphs.

Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s great, but I want some examples.” Well, you’re in luck. This paragraph’s first sentence is a transition sentence, connecting it to the previous paragraph. In fact, the first sentence of the previous paragraph is a transition too. You might have read both without even realizing that they are examples of transition sentences.

To sum it all up, transition sentences are used to open new paragraphs and connect them to the logical flow of the previous paragraph. But transition sentences are not only placed at the beginning of paragraphs; there are also mid-paragraph transitions. An example of this is the sentence just before this one.

How to Fit Every Transition Word and Phrase into Your Writing with Ease

Now bear with me, this might seem like a random algorithm of colored words but keep reading, and it will soon become clear!

If you want to write an effective paragraph, you don’t want your ideas to be disjointed. On the contrary, you want each new statement to flow into the previous statement. The best way to do this is with an effective transition.

You might be wondering: “How do I do that?” If this is the case, this series of mini paragraphs will be a great help to you. How can they help you? In them, I’ve labeled the transition periods in green.

So, is it better to use transition words/phrases or transition sentences? You’ll notice that I use both. To tell you the truth, transition words are often easier to insert into a sentence. However, you also need transition sentences, such as this one. Transition sentences help congeal the entire paragraphMoreover, smooth transitions make for easy reading – and better grades on essays.

Transitions Tips and FAQs

If you’re looking for tips on how to write a good essay, here are some pointers for using common transitions.

“On the other hand.”

This is a handy (pun not intended) way to transition, which means in contrast to or introducing another point of view.

Try not to use this more than once unless you’re an alien with more than two hands. (On the other other hand, it might give your teacher a laugh.)

“Firstly,” “Secondly”…

Referring to a numerical number list to transition onto further points.

Firstly, these are very overused by students. Secondly, they make your writing sound unnatural. I would write “thirdly,”… but I just can’t. Don’t use these; find a more creative way to say what you want to.

Penultimately… Can you use “Penultimately” as a Transition?

“Penultimate” means the second-to-last. So, before we wrap up, let’s review some of the key things you’ve learned.

  1. Good writing isn’t a pile of disconnected thoughts. Good writing is easy to read because one thought connects to the next.
  2. Transitions connect one thought to the next. For example, this bullet point connects the previous idea above to the next idea.
  3. Because of all this, good writing uses excellent transitions.
  4. There are many types of transitions: There are transitional words or phrases and transitional sentences.
  5. Even though you can’t use the bullet-point format in essays, if you use your transitions effectively, your writing will be as easy to read as if you had.
  6. Every idea should flow to every other. You will need to add transition sentences between unrelated ideas.
  7. Lastly, don’t view your essay writing as a chore. This way, you can enjoy it. 

So, to wrap things up, could you use “penultimately” as a transition? Conceivably, yes, it’s in the English dictionary. However, it’ll likely sound awkward, and in essays, that’s the last thing you want, so it’s probably better to skip it for now.

Lastly, Have Fun

I hope this article has enhanced your understanding of transition words and sentences in essay writing and effective writing.

However, it doesn’t have to end here. Maybe you’re looking for a list of transition words. Or you’re just looking to have some fun with the world’s #1 most-learned language. Whether you just want some help writing essays or want to dig deeper and unearth your inner grammar nerd, check out our other ELA resources.

In the meantime, don’t neglect your transitions. They’re the joints that connect the bones of your great ideas. Without them, your writing is just a pile of parts. With them, you’re a fully-formed velociraptor.

This is all to say; go out and write with transitions that shine.