Transitional Words and Phrases
Transitional words and phrases provide the glue that holds ideas together in writing. They provide coherence (that hanging together, making sense as a whole) by helping the reader to understand the relationship between ideas, and they act as signposts that help the reader follow the movement of the discussion. Transitional expressions, then, can be used between sentences, between paragraphs, or between entire sections of a work. The two kinds of transitions are those of logic and those of thought. Each of these kinds is discussed here.
Transitions of Logic
Transitions of logic consist of words or phrases that convey “logical intent”: that is, they show the logical connection between two ideas. Since there are several possible logical connections (such as time, purpose, contrast), there are several categories of transitions of logic. The table below lists many of these transitions, arranged by category and listed as milder or stronger. (Note that there is some double listing, because of the different ways words can be used.) Some hints for use:
- be careful not to use too many strong transitions
- transitions become stronger when they are the first word in a sentence, milder when they are moved a few words into the sentence
- keep this list handy while you write, until the words come automatically
|Transitions of Logic|
|Addition||a further x
|Comparison||just as … so too
a similar x
another x like
in the same way
on the other hand
on the contrary
for all that
at the same time
though this may be
first, second, third
at that time
in the meantime
in the past
in the future
|Purpose||to do this
|to this end
with this object
for this purpose
for that reason
because of this x
|at that point
on the other side
in the front
in the back
as a result
for one thing
an instance of this
this can be seen in
|Summary and Emphasis||in sum
by the way
on the whole
as I said
in other words
to be sure
for all that
on the whole
in any event
Transitions of Thought
Transitions of thought consist of words that help maintain the continuity of thought from one sentence or paragraph to the next. Transitions of thought are produced by the following techniques:
Pronouns and Possessive Pronouns. Follow a noun with a pronoun (to continue the same subject) or a possessive pronoun (to move to something related to the original subject).
Fido is asleep. He is a good dog. His house is near the tree.
The oranges are in the kitchen bowl. Eat all you want, but check them for ripeness first.
The Castells must be home from the beach. I see their car in the driveway.
Pronouns include he, she, it, we, they, us, them, him, her, I, me, and you
Possessive pronouns include his, her, hers, its, their, theirs, ours, our, my, mine, your, yours
Keyword Repetition. Repeat the word around which the discussion is focusing.
Many cities are overcrowded. But now there is help for the city.
Your gardener can apply this fertilizer to your lawn monthly. Just read the fertilizer label. OR Just ask your gardener about it. OR Your lawn will become greener and juicier.
Synonyms. A synonym is a word that means nearly the same as another word. The meaning is close enough so that the thought continues, but different enough so that the idea expands and gains greater definition than it would by simply repeating the same word over and over (which would be pretty boring, too, huh?).
Fred’s car is fast and powerful. But is such a vehicle legal? And don’t hot rods like that pollute the air?
We hiked from the meadow to the peak on Monday. Then we walked from the peak to the bluff Tuesday. It was quite a trek.
Demonstrative Pronouns and Adjectives. Demonstrative pronouns include this, that, these, and those. They are useful for both direction and emphasis. It is a good idea to change demonstrative pronouns to demonstrative adjectives by adding a clarifying noun (so instead of saying, “This is good,” say, “This ice cream is good.”).
Some people suggest giving up salt on popcorn. This idea, however, is ridiculous.
Yes, Air Profit is our best selling shoe. That brand, however, is sold out right now.
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