Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

10.3: Transitions

  • Page ID
    225939
    \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    WHAT ARE TRANSITIONS?

    Transitional words can signal levels of importance, connections, and the direction of thoughts. For example, after a friend begins a sentence with "I like you very much," would you prefer that the next word be "and" or "however"? The word "and" signals more of the same, hinting that you could anticipate another pleasant compliment. On the other hand, "however" signals a change of thought, so brace yourself for a negative remark. If the next words were "consequently" or "therefore," you could anticipate a positive result or reward for the positive feelings. Such words are transitions and lead readers to anticipate the direction of a writer's thoughts. Transitions also reveal organizational patterns.

    In short, transitions…

    • are phrases or words used to connect one idea to the next.
    • are used by the author to help the reader move from one significant idea to the next.
    • show the relationship within a paragraph (or within a sentence) between the main idea and the support the author gives for those ideas.

    WHY USE TRANSITIONS?

    Transitions serve as “guiderails” through someone else’s logic. We all think differently, so it is helpful to use transitions to signal the direction of your thoughts. Like you use a turn signal in a car to let the car behind you know you are going left, transitions signal which direction you are going as you present a series of ideas and arguments to someone not familiar with your reasoning.

    HOW CAN I BEST USE TRANSITIONS?

    Being familiar with different transitions and the logical direction each signals is the first step in using them effectively in your writing.

    PATTERNS OF ORGANIZATION AND THEIR TRANSITIONAL WORDS:

    Addition (providing additional examples):

    furthermore, again, also, further, moreover, besides, likewise, and, indeed, in addition, too, next, first, second

    Cause and Effect (showing one element as producing or causing a result or effect):

    because, for this reason, consequently, hence, as a result, thus, due to, therefore, if, so, since

    Concession (acknowledging the merits of the counter argument before reasserting an opinion):

    whereas, granted that, even though, though, yet, while, although

    Illustration (explaining using examples):

    that is, for example, to illustrate, for instance, in fact, specifically, as seen in

    Comparison (listing similarities among items):

    in a similar way, similarly, parallels, likewise, in alike manner, also, in the same manner

    Contrast (listing differences among items):

    on the other hand, more than, but, however, conversely, on the contrary, although, nevertheless, still, in contrast, yet, even though

    Definition (defining a concept and expanding with examples and restatements):

    can be defined, means, for example, like, in short, specifically

    Description (listing characteristics or details using vivid language):

    is, as, like, could be described (using adjectives, adverbs and language that touches on the senses)

    Location or Spatial Order (identifying the whereabouts of objects or people):

    next to, near, below, above, close by, within, without, beside, around, to the right or left, opposite

    Narration or Time Order (listing events in order of occurrence):

    first, second, finally, after, before, next, later, now, at last, until, at the same time, while, during, as, meanwhile, then, immediately

    Simple Listing (randomly listing items in a series):

    also, another, several, for example

    Summary (condensing major points):

    in conclusion, to restate, briefly, to sum up, in short, in a nutshell, in other words, therefore, in summary

    Practice: Inserting Appropriate Transitional Words

    (1) Many people think that heavy fishing of a lake will eventually cause a serious depletion of the stock of fish; ____________________ in a lake with a limited food supply, heavy fishing often increases the fish supply.

    (2) I didn’t finish my homework, I’m behind in the reading, and I didn’t study for the exam today;

    ____________________ I think I’m going to fail the class and have to take it again.

    (3) The torrential rains in the Los Angeles area were highly destructive to the economy; _____________________ the rains brought much needed water to the farmers, the destruction to property and crops was enormous.

    (4) Today, college women are finding many acceptable alternatives to the "graduate and get married" pattern of the past. Many women _____________________ are pursuing graduate degrees or joining the military.

    (5) She had acquired some bad habits over the years of impatience and procrastination; ______________________ she started smoking and stopped working out.

    Answer

    (1) Many people think that heavy fishing of a lake will eventually cause a serious depletion of the stock of fish; HOWEVER (contrast) in a lake with a limited food supply, heavy fishing often increases the fish supply.

    (2) I didn’t finish my homework, I’m behind in the reading, and I didn’t study for the exam today;

    THEREFORE (cause/effect) I think I’m going to fail the class and have to take it again.

    (3) The torrential rains in the Los Angeles area were highly destructive to the economy; EVEN THOUGH (concession) the rains brought much needed water to the farmers, the destruction to property and crops was enormous.

    (4) Today, college women are finding many acceptable alternatives to the "graduate and get married" pattern of the past. Many women FOR EXAMPLE (illustration) are pursuing graduate degrees or joining the military.

    (5) She had acquired some bad habits over the years of impatience and procrastination; FURTHERMORE (additional examples) she started smoking and stopped working out.

    Practice: MAKING PARAGRAPHS COHESIVE AND LOGICAL USING TRANSITIONS

    Add transitions and join sentences to make this disjointed paragraph unified and clear. You don't need to change the sequence of sentences:

    Obstetricians perform too many cesareans. They can schedule deliveries for their own convenience. They can avoid sleepless nights and canceled parties. They resort to cesareans in any difficult delivery to protect themselves against malpractice suits. Cesareans involve larger fees and hospital bills than normal deliveries. Cesarean patients spend about twice as many days in the hospital as other mothers.

    The National Institutes of Health confirmed that doctors were performing many unnecessary cesarean sections. They suggested ways to reduce their use. The recommendation was widely publicized. The obstetricians apparently failed to take note. In 1985, the operation was performed in 16.5 percent of United States' births. In 1992, 24.7 percent of the births were Cesareans.

    Answer

    Obstetricians perform too many cesareans, SO they can schedule deliveries for their own convenience, AND they can avoid sleepless nights and canceled parties. ADDITIONALLY, they resort to cesareans in any difficult delivery to protect themselves against malpractice suits. MOREOVER, cesareans involve larger fees and hospital bills than normal deliveries BECAUSE cesarean patients spend about twice as many days in the hospital as other mothers.

    The National Institutes of Health confirmed that doctors were performing many unnecessary cesarean
    sections; AS A RESULT, they suggested ways to reduce their use. The recommendation was widely publicized; NEVERTHELESS, the obstetricians apparently failed to take note. In 1985, the operation was performed in 16.5 percent of United States' births, YET in 1992, 24.7 percent of the births were Cesareans.

    Transitions come in phrases too

    Transitions can be in the form of words like however, furthermore, meanwhile but they can also come in the form of phrases like: Not only x, but also y and If x, then y. Sometimes you’ll provide a full sentence to move your reader from one idea to the another: As a result of Malcolm X forging his own education, he learns many things that are not taught in the typical classroom which inspires him to fight for change (this moves the discussion from Malcolm X learning to read to what he learned to what he did).

    Here are some examples of transitional phrases:

    To explain something further:

    • Examples of this are,
    • To say this in another way,
    • In line with that, ...

    To say it is true in only one direction:

    • The converse is not true.
    • This only goes in one direction.
    • This is only true in this instance.

    To say that something is true in "both directions"

    • The converse is also true
    • and vice versa

    When you have given your conclusion first and want to then give your evidence, support, justification for it:

    • The evidence for ... is
    • The reason(s) for ... is (are)
    • One can see this because
    • This can be seen because
    • This is supported by

    To link together similar things (whether ideas or reasons):

    • You can number them
    • The following n things: [and then number them, or not number them, whichever seems more appropriate]
    • In the same vein,
    • Along with that,
    • Not only x, but also y

    To change topics:

    • Moving on to a different point
    • Considering something totally different now,
    • Let me digress for a moment...
    • Returning from the digression...
    • Returning to the above point about
    • Related to...

    When what you have presented leads up to, or supports, or makes a case for what you are about to say:

    • We can see from the previous that,
    • Because of the previous [sentence, paragraph, line of reasoning, three points,...] we can see that [or, it is rational to believe that, or it is reasonable to hold that]...
    • In light of this we can see that

    When you are going to "contradict" what has been said before [or contradict what you are about to say]:

    • In spite of this [or, in spite of the fact that ...,]
    • Despite the fact that ...
    • Unfortunately that does not ...
    • Contradicting that is
    • While it may seem that ...
    • The apparent implication is that ...,
    • While it may be that ...,
    • The previous does not imply/demonstrate/show
    • We cannot reasonably deduce/infer/assume from this...
    • Although x,y ...
    • While it is the case that..., it is not the case that (or it is not true that, or does not imply that ...)

    To show a cause and effect relationship:

    • Since [x is true], [y is true]
    • Since [x], y ...
    • Because (of) x, y...
    • Given that x, y ....
    • Factoring in that x, y...
    • Taking into account x, we can see that y...
    • As a consequence of x, y....
    • It follows from x, y
    • We can see from x, y

    Practice: Identifying Transitional Words and Phrases

    Using one of the body paragraphs from the essay on Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, underline all the transitional words AND the transitional phrases:

    After secretly learning to read and write on his own, Douglass discovered that freeing his mind led to anguished torment as he was unable to free himself from the entrenched institutions of slavery but change was set in motion. Being awakened to the stark realities of his condition only served to plunge Douglass into despair: “As I read and contemplated the subject, behold! that very discontentment which Master Hugh had predicted would follow my learning to read had already come, to torment and sting my soul to unutterable anguish (84). Once Douglass’s eyes were opened, he invariably suffered: “… I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing. It had given me a view of my wretched condition, without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out. In moments of agony, I envied my fellow-slaves for their stupidity” (84). So is ignorance bliss? The answer for us to live in a fair and decent world has to be no, never. To be ignorant allows others not only to make choices for you but to limit your choices without you even realizing it. Not knowing the factors and people who shape your life, enables those in power to act in their own self-interest and have no accountability when doing so. It also makes people unable to recognize when they are victimized by unjust situations, and if you cannot see the problem, then you can never demand or bring about change. After Douglass understood the evils of slavery, he suffered initially and even entertained thoughts of suicide, but later he escaped to the north and became an influential leader in the abolitionist movement and spent the remainder of his life fighting for the equality and rights of blacks as well as women.

    Answer

    Using one of the body paragraphs from the essay on Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, underline all the transitional words AND the transitional phrases:

    After secretly learning to read and write on his own, Douglass discovered that freeing his mind led to anguished torment as he was unable to free himself from the entrenched institutions of slavery but change was set in motion. Being awakened to the stark realities of his condition only served to plunge Douglass into despair: “As I read and contemplated the subject, behold! that very discontentment which Master Hugh had predicted would follow my learning to read had already come, to torment and sting my soul to unutterable anguish (84). Once Douglass’s eyes were opened, he invariably suffered: “… I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing. It had given me a view of my wretched condition, without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out. In moments of agony, I envied my fellow-slaves for their stupidity” (84). So is ignorance bliss? The answer for us to live in a fair and decent world has to be no, never. To be ignorant allows others not only to make choices for you but to limit your choices without you even realizing it. Not knowing the factors and people who shape your life, enables those in power to act in their own self-interest and have no accountability when doing so. It also makes people unable to recognize when they are victimized by unjust situations, and if you cannot see the problem, then you can never demand or bring about change. After Douglass understood the evils of slavery, he suffered initially and even entertained thoughts of suicide, but later he escaped to the north and became an influential leader in the abolitionist movement and spent the remainder of his life fighting for the equality and rights of blacks as well as women.


    This page titled 10.3: Transitions is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Skyline English Department.

    • Was this article helpful?