Transitional Words and Phrases
Updated lists by Joanna Taraba
(printable version here)
This page only provides a list of transitional words; be certain you understand their meanings before you use them. Often, there exists a slight, but significant, difference between two apparently similar words. Also remember that while transitions describe relationships between ideas, they do not automatically create relationships between ideas for your reader. Use transitions with enough context in a sentence or paragraph to make the relationships clear.
Example of unclear transition:
The characters in Book A face a moral dilemma. In the same way, the characters in Book B face a similar problem.
The characters in Book A face a moral dilemma, a contested inheritance. Although the inheritance in Book B consists of an old house and not a pile of money, the nature of the problem is quite similar.
Examples of Transitions:
Thus, for example, for instance, namely, to illustrate, in other words, in particular, specifically, such as.
On the contrary, contrarily, notwithstanding, but, however, nevertheless, in spite of, in contrast, yet, on one hand, on the other hand, rather, or, nor, conversely, at the same time, while this may be true.
And, in addition to, furthermore, moreover, besides, than, too, also, both-and, another, equally important, first, second, etc., again, further, last, finally, not only-but also, as well as, in the second place, next, likewise, similarly, in fact, as a result, consequently, in the same way, for example, for instance, however, thus, therefore, otherwise.
After, afterward, before, then, once, next, last, at last, at length, first, second, etc., at first, formerly, rarely, usually, another, finally, soon, meanwhile, at the same time, for a minute, hour, day, etc., during the morning, day, week, etc., most important, later, ordinarily, to begin with, afterwards, generally, in order to, subsequently, previously, in the meantime, immediately, eventually, concurrently, simultaneously.
At the left, at the right, in the center, on the side, along the edge, on top, below, beneath, under, around, above, over, straight ahead, at the top, at the bottom, surrounding, opposite, at the rear, at the front, in front of, beside, behind, next to, nearby, in the distance, beyond, in the forefront, in the foreground, within sight, out of sight, across, under, nearer, adjacent, in the background.
Although, at any rate, at least, still, thought, even though, granted that, while it may be true, in spite of, of course.
Similarity or Comparison
Similarly, likewise, in like fashion, in like manner, analogous to.
Above all, indeed, truly, of course, certainly, surely, in fact, really, in truth, again, besides, also, furthermore, in addition.
Specifically, especially, in particular, to explain, to list, to enumerate, in detail, namely, including.
For example, for instance, to illustrate, thus, in other words, as an illustration, in particular.
Consequence or Result
So that, with the result that, thus, consequently, hence, accordingly, for this reason, therefore, so, because, since, due to, as a result, in other words, then.
Therefore, finally, consequently, thus, in short, in conclusion, in brief, as a result, accordingly.
For this purpose, to this end, with this in mind, with this purpose in mind, therefore.
Back to 'Focusing/Connecting Ideas'
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Anyone who has ever received criticism about a written assignment has quite possibly been told to use more transition words, which is where this list of transition words come in handy.
List of Transition Words
While you do not want your paper or other written piece to sound like a long string of transition words, consider adding some of these suggestions when appropriate in order to spice up your work and to make the sections flow more smoothly from one to another.
What follows is a list of transition words which you might want to use in your writing from time to time. Note that some of them are phrases and not singular words.
- In addition to
- As a result
- So then
- For the most part
- As a rule
- In particular
- For instance
- Such as
- For example
- As an example
- In this case
- Above all
- Coupled with
- Compared to
- In comparison to
- Together with
- In brief
- In short
- In conclusion
- In the meantime
- In the meanwhile
- In summary
- To summarize
- By the way
- As a result of
- Over there
- In the distance
- To the left
- To the right
Purpose of Transition Words
Transition words help a written piece to flow more smoothly. Without these types of words, your writing will become choppy. However, sometimes, when a writer is advised to use a new type of device in his or her writing, that person will tend to start sprinkling it in everywhere. Transition words should really fall very naturally throughout a composition.
Let's take a look at examples of sentences without a transition words, and then add a transition word in. You will be able to see how they work with the written word. The first example in each set is lacking a transition word, and the second example in each set has one added.
- Carla spent a long day working at school and then cooked dinner for her family. She needed a large cup of coffee.
Carla spent a long day working at school and then cooked dinner for her family. Therefore, she needed a large cup of coffee.
- Jeffrey will be ready to leave for the trip in 20 minutes. Fill up the car with gas please.
Jeffrey will be ready to leave for the trip in 20 minutes. In the meanwhile, fill up the car with gas please.
- The trip through the desert was extremely tiring for the crew. Then they saw civilization.
The trip through the desert was extremely tiring for the crew. Then, in the distance, they saw civilization.
- Paul did not run for the ice cream truck with the other children. He doesn't like ice cream.
Paul did not run for the ice cream truck with the other children, because he doesn't like ice cream.
After you read these senetences over a few times, you will see how adding in a transition makes the written word flow better.