How to Use Paragraph Transitions

A Guide to Transitional Words and Expressions

When writing a paragraph or essay, just as proper grammar and spelling are important, paragraph transitions are also important.

Transitional words and phrases connect sentences and paragraphs to each other. Paragraph transitions suggest a particular relationship between one idea and the next. Within a paragraph, transitions provide coherence: a sense that the paragraph contains one main argument or idea. Between paragraphs, paragraph transitions help with the flow of writing from beginning to end, as well as the sense of the coherence of the whole essay. Transitional words and phrases often occur at the beginning of a sentence and, for more formal writing, transitional expressions are set off with a comma. Some transition words (for example, "too" or "as well") more often occur at the end or even in the middle of a sentence, however.


To help you practice transitional words, here is a transition word list that shows the relationship the transitional words or phrases indicate. As a transition word exercise, revise a paragraph adding the appropriate transition word or phrase.


English Transition Words and Phrases

Adding information also, and, as well, besides, equally important, finally, furthermore, in addition, moreover, then, too
Comparing ideas in like manner, in the same way, likewise, similarly
Conceding a point agreed, certainly, granted, obviously, of course, to be sure
Contrasting ideas at the same time, but, conversely, even so, even though, however, in contrast, nevertheless, nonetheless, on the one hand, on the other hand, still, yet
Providing an example as an illustration, as can be seen by, for example, for instance, in other words, namely, specifically, to illustrate
Relating time and order of ideas afterward, before, currently, eventually, finally, first, (second, third, fourth, fifth?), immediately, in the future, in the past, later, less important, meanwhile, most important, next, often, sometimes, soon, subsequently, then, today, when
Resulting from the previous idea accordingly, as a result, consequently, so, thereby, therefore, thus
Showing relative location adjacent, at the side, between, here, in the back, in the background, in the distance, in the foreground, in the front, nearby, there, to the side
Summarizing ideas finally, hence, in brief, in conclusion, in short, in summary, that is, that is to say, to sum up


In summary, use a variety of good transition words within your paragraphs to create coherent paragraphs. Use good paragraph transition words in essays to help your ideas flow throughout the essay, as well. In these ways, transition words serve as a sort of writing glue. Yet, don't use the same transition repeatedly, unless you are doing so for a specific effect. Remember, you can always check grammar, spelling, and writing style with WhiteSmoke's free online grammar checker.

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