A transition is a “passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another.” At least that’s what Merriam-Webster’s dictionary says. But that thing’s only been around for like 184 years or so, so I’d like to amend it a bit.
Instead, let’s say a transition is “a passage from one state, stage, subject, place, or IDEA to another.” That’s what we do when we transition in our essays. We transition between ideas that are usually related to one subject.
We do this from section to section, from paragraph to paragraph, from sentence to sentence, and often, within individual sentences.
On the macro level (sections and paragraphs), we often use whole paragraphs or sentences to transition from one idea to the next. However, on the micro level (between and within sentences), we use transition words.
Politicians use transitions all the time when they’re presented with an undesirable question and prefer to spin to another subject.
Well, some are better at it than others.
For better or worse, we’re focusing on these little gems today: transition words for essays. Why? Because they’re oh-so-important when it comes to moving from one idea to another and melding those ideas into one cohesive whole within your essay.
Without transition words, you can lose your direction. But their overuse, or misuse, can lead to a clunky, redundant mess of transitional madness.
So today, let’s tackle what you need to know about using transition words for essays.
What Exactly Are Transition Words, and Why Are They Important?
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably all too used to writing essays. I don’t need to explain to you the essay’s prevalence in just about every level of the education system.
You already understand the different types of essays that require you to analyze, interpret, compare and contrast, and break down any number of subjects.
When writing any essay, it’s important that all of your ideas progress in a clear and concise direction. It’s also important that you present them in a logical order. After all, we can only focus on one idea at a time.
What makes transition words so important? They allow us, as writers, to seamlessly move from one idea to the next. They also let us do so in a way that’s almost imperceptible to the reader.
Let’s take this quote as an example:
“Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits.” —Kristin Armstrong
In this quote, we see the speaker uses the transition word “but” to shift from the difficulty related to life transitions to the positives that can come from them. It flows so well that you don’t even notice the word.
In contrast, imagine if she said, “Times of transition are strenuous. I love them.” This would give the reader pause as the connection isn’t clear. Instead, by using “but,” Armstrong effectively transitions you to the positive aspects of her thinking, which she then elaborates on.
As you can see, neglecting to use transition words entirely will result in writing that’s disconnected and difficult to read and understand. Transition words are vital to establishing flow and fluency in your paper. That flow and fluency allows your reader to seamlessly identify and connect to your ideas.
However, when transitions are overused or misused, they can be counter-productive.
What Are Some Common Transition Mistakes?
Learning to use transitions is easy, but learning to use them fluidly is more difficult. It’s kind of like dancing. Anyone can hold on to another person and move his feet. Doing it gracefully is another story.
So let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes I see with the use of transition words for essays.
Transition by numbers
“Firstly, smoking is bad for your lungs. Second, smoking can discolor your teeth. Third, smoking is bad for the people around you. In the fourth place, smoking is very expensive.”
Often when writing an essay, we’re asked to present several arguments or pieces of evidence. So numbering each of the points as we present them seems logical. However, this isn’t a list. It’s an essay. Try to avoid using “first,” “second,” and “third” exclusively when transitioning to a new point.
The broken record
“Exercise can improve your cardiovascular function. In addition, it can increase your self-esteem. Additionally, exercise can be a great way to meet new people. Plus, exercise can extend your life and make you feel younger.”
Some transition words will be used more than others, and that’s fine. However, a big part of writing is finding the right balance. You may have a favorite transition word, but try to show some restraint in using it. Switch it up from time to time. Avoid overusing transitions that essentially all mean the same thing.
Starting with ands and buts
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been taught that it’s a sin to start a sentence with “and” or “but.” And being the rebel writer I am, I love to break this rule (<– see?). But I have to admit, doing it continuously is less than ideal (<– see?).
Spelling it out
Transitions are meant to guide your reader through your essay from idea to idea and section to section. Consequently, there’s this tendency to spell everything out. I’ve read so many conclusion paragraphs that begin with “in conclusion.”
If you’re writing a strong conclusion, then there’s no reason to spell this out. Your reader will know. Trust me.
Now that you know why transition words are important and how to use them correctly, let’s take a look at 97 transition words for essays.
97 Transition Words for Essays You Need to Know
Transition words can be used to achieve various effects. Therefore, I’ve broken the following transition words into categories. This makes them a bit easier to digest—and refer back to later.
These transition words are used to provide additional information on a point.
- as well as
- of course
- in addition
- not to mention
Example:“Developing strong reading habits will improve your grade in English class, as well as any other class that involves reading, which happens to be all of them.”
These transition words are used to show the flip side of a point. They can be incredibly useful when transitioning from one side of an issue to the other.
- in contrast
- then again
- even though
Example: “The loss of my mother was the most difficult moment of my life. Then again, it was also the point when I began truly living my own life.”
These transition words are often used at the beginning of a sentence to show the cause of an action.
- in order to
- due to
- provided that
- with this in mind
Example: “I always think about having a drink when I’m feeling stressed about work.”
These are used in a similar way as the cause transitions, but later in the sentence to show the result of an action.
- as a result
- and so
- because of this
Example: “I was feeling stressed about work; thus,I thought about having a drink.”
These transition words are used to drive a point home by providing further information for the reader to think about in relation to it.
- in other words
- for instance
- for example
- such as
- with this in mind
Example: “Bullying in school can be detrimental to students, particularly when it occurs during the formative years of their education.”
These transitions are used to bring together various points that you’ve mentioned in your paper.
- in short
- in fact
- after all
- all in all
- in any event
- as mentioned
- in general
- in other words
- in summary
- as you can see
Example: “As mentioned, smoking is harmful to your health and the health of those you love.”
These are extremely important when it comes to developing strong flow from idea to idea, especially when they relate to time.
- as soon as
- at the same time
- in the future
- in the past
- prior to
Example: “Before we discuss the candidates’ platforms, let’s review their political histories.”
Putting Transition Words for Essays into Practice
This is by no means an exhaustive list. However, each of these transition words is common and valuable. They’re definitely transition words for essays you need to know. I encourage you to refer back to this list anytime you write an essay.
Need some inspiration? Check out these example essays where the writers did a good job of using transition words to connect ideas:
If you find that your essay lacks smooth transitions, the list of 97 transition words for essays will help you to add some.
If your essay feels redundant upon second reading because you’ve used similar transition words repeatedly, use these categories to find some good replacements.
If it still doesn’t feel right, I suggest you send your essay to the editing team at Kibin. Not only will the professional editors review your use of transitions, but they’ll work with you to improve your use of transition words for essays going forward.
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We should probably start by asking ourselves what are transition words and what value do they add to an essay? You need to connect ideas in your essay to improve readability. If your points are isolated and unrelated, then reading becomes difficult and boring.
As a matter of fact, most software that check for readability of texts look for correct usage of transition words. Some people recommend that you can add transition words when you are revising the paper. However, you have to get a good flow from the beginning. This means that you should be adding these words as you write. Transition words are very many. Using them might be confusing and that is where this article breaks them down into 4 major types depending on how and where you can use them.Also,if you can't do it yourself, we can help with college essays.
These are the kind of words that you will want to use when writing about a list of points in prose. The words in this category are:
- Firstly, secondly, thirdly
- To begin with, initially, to start with, finally
- Subsequently, afterwards, previously
The list is by no means endless. However, what you should know about words in this category is that they help you in introducing sentences of paragraphs that follow a sequence in prose. Using lists or numbers in an essay might be inappropriate and appear untidy. However, you might need to introduce related points and demonstrate that they are related. For instance, you want to write down three factors that lead to global warming. You might use "to begin with" for the first point, "secondly" for the second point, and "finally" for the third point. This will not only make it easy to read, but show the reader that the points are related.
Casual transition words show the relationship between sentences and paragraphs, where the proceeding point emerges as a cause or effect of the previous. Some words in this category are:
- Consequently, as a result, due to the fact that
- Therefore, thus, otherwise
- For, since, unless
You can easily identify casual transition words by looking at the relationship they create between two sentences or paragraphs. For instance, you can have two independent sentences like: I was later for school. I was punished by the head teacher. You can improve readability by showing that the second action was as a result of the first. Your sentence can look something like this: "Due to the fact that I was late for school, I was punished by the head teacher. When using casual transitions, you should always be keen on establishing the nature of relationship between sentences and paragraphs.
These are the kind of transitions you use when you want to show that the current point is an addition to the previous. You should not confuse additive with sequential. In the case of additive, the current point is only directly related to the previous. However, in case of sequential there is a relationship between all the points mentioned in the sequence. Examples of additive transitions are:
- In addition to, furthermore, similarly, likewise
- In other words, to illustrate, for instance
You can use these words to explain in detail the previous point. They can be used to avoid run on sentences where the reader is forced to read a long sentence without a pause. For instance, let us consider the following sentences:
- Technology has made life easier through the introduction of gadgets such as smart phones and technology has also promoted peace
- Technology has made life easier through the introduction of gadgets such as smartphone. Furthermore, it has also promoted peace.
The first sentence is a perfect example of a run on sentence. The readability is poor and it could be confusing. However, you can create a relationship between the two ideas by introducing an additive transition. This makes it easy for the reader to notice the connection.
These transitions accomplish the task opposite to additive transitions. Instead of adding, they show conflict between ideas. Examples in this category are:
- Regardless, nonetheless, however
- Otherwise, regardless, on the other hand
The words in this category are mostly used when writing an analysis or argumentative essay. This is because you will mostly find that explaining opposing views will provide a better analysis or argument. You can also use these transitions to provide alternative, not necessarily opposing, views. The list of transition words is long because there are many examples. You will hear most students asking for examples of transition words. However, it is important to understand the different types and how they are used first. Once you are conversant with the types, you will only need to look at an example within a sentence to be able to use the same in an essay. When it comes to transition words, you will definitely need to improve on your reading habits. With time they will sink in and you will find using them easy.