Transition Words and Phrases in English

the ultimate transitions guide

Imagine a road with no street signs to point the way. How would you follow the right route if you didn’t have a sign showing you which way to go?

Words and phrases like similarly, nevertheless, in order to, likewise, and as a result show the relationships between your ideas and can help illustrate agreement, contrast, or cause and effect.

What Are Transition Words?

Transition words are the road signs in writing. They help readers follow your train of thought without becoming bogged down trying to discern your meaning.

When used correctly, they keep up the flow of your writing as you shift in meaning, tone, and ideas from one sentence or paragraph to another. Transition words clarify the relationship between what you just said and what you're about to say for your readers.

Here’s an example of a well-placed transition:

  • Original: The boy kicked the ball into the street. A speeding car came around the corner.
  • Rewrite: The boy kicked the ball into the street. At the same moment, a speeding car came around the corner.

The rewrite uses a transition phrase to show when the event happened. We see the action in a wider lens: the ball goes into the street just as a car comes careening around the corner. The first illustration is short and choppy. It doesn’t flow well. The rewrite leads you smoothly between two related, but different thoughts.

The addition of at the same moment also clarifies the connection between the ideas for the reader. Since we know these events are connected and happening at the same time, we feel more tension for what's about to happen.

transitional words examples

Transitional Words Examples: Fiction

Let’s take a look at some of these words in context to better examine how they work.

Fiction Transitions Example 1:

Take the following two sentences. Which one reads more fluidly?

  • Mark tended to avoid the campus dining hall where his former friends hung out. He loved its food.
  • Mark tended to avoid the campus dining hall where his former friends hung out, although he loved its food.

In the second construction, you understand how the two ideas are related. The first construction reads as choppy, two disparate ideas connected solely by proximity. By adding the transition word although and combining the two sentences, the second construction makes it clear that avoiding the dining hall had consequences for Mark. It gives more meaning to both sentences.

two sentences from above, one with a transition one without

Fiction Transitions Example 2:

Here’s another example of transition word usage in fiction writing:

  • Mindy thought her mother was over-reacting to her predicament. She waited two days after the first phone call to visit.
  • Mindy thought her mother was over-reacting to her predicament. So, she waited two days after the first phone call to visit.

The use of so in the second construction makes clear to the reader that the gap in time between the call and the visit was a direct result of the over-reaction.

Transitional Words Examples: Non-Fiction

Transitions don’t just help fiction readers. Let’s take a look at how you can use transitions to improve your non-fiction writing.

Non-Fiction Transitions Example 1:

Take the following two constructions. Which one reads more fluidly?

  • Marketing numbers have performed worse than we expected this year. We will be hiring a marketing consultant.
  • Marketing numbers have performed worse than we expected this year, so we’ll be hiring a marketing consultant.

In the second construction, you understand how the two ideas are related. You see straight away that the poor marketing results are the direct reason for hiring a marketing consultant. By adding this connection, the relationship between the two ideas becomes clear. Similarly, the second version flows better and feels less self-contained.

Non-Fiction Transitions Example 2:

Here’s another example of transition word usage in non-fiction writing:

  • The recent rise in oil pricing has made gas more expensive for consumers. Food prices have skyrocketed.
  • The recent rise in oil pricing has made gas more expensive for consumers. Similarly, food prices have skyrocketed.

The use of similarly in the second construction makes it clear that there’s a relationship between the two ideas. The first construction feels disconnected since one sentence focuses on gas prices and another on food. The second construction makes it clear that the two ideas are related based on how they affect prices for consumers.

What Are the 6 Examples of Transitions?

What makes these phrases different from other words? They all move your writing from one idea to another.

The specific word or phrase you choose for your writing will depend on the type of transition you want to make. Each category of transition has multiple words or phrases you can choose from. Later in this article, we’ll show you hundreds of transition words or phrases to suit every need.

the six types of transition words with definitions

Before we get to the ultimate list of examples, let’s take a look at the categories.

Cause and effect: Show how two ideas are connected.

  • I’m tired, so I’m going to bed.

Contrast: Show differences between two or more ideas.

  • I hate most desserts. However, I love cookies.

Example and Emphasis: Introduce examples that help highlight or explain a previous point, or to add strength to a particular idea.

  • I have a lot of fears. For instance, I’m terrified of spiders.

Addition & Enumeration: Break down, draw connections to, or add more support to an existing idea.

  • Today, I’m going to do my homework. In addition, I’m going to clean my room.

Time: Explain how two or more ideas are related in time.

  • Mary-Ann went out, looking for a bright new world. Meanwhile, Wanda looked all around their hometown and all she found was Earl.

Conclusion: Introduce a final point or summarize information.

  • In conclusion, I deserve a new car because I’ve done all my chores for the month.

How ProWritingAid Can Help You with Transition Words

Clear, readable writing tends to use around 25% transition phrases. Of course this isn't set in stone—but if you have considerably fewer than this in your document, you may be losing your reader.

ProWritingAid's Transitions Report highlights all of the transition words in your document so you can see how your writing flows. Here's how it works:

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What Are Some Examples of Transition Words?

Looking for examples of transition words you can use in your writing? Look no further! We’ve put together the ultimate list with hundreds of examples you can use.

On to the list!

Cause and Effect Transition Phrases

Also known as condition or purpose transitions, these words and phrases explain how ideas are related.

cause and effect transition words examples

given that
in view of
because of
in the event that
granted (that)
as/so long as
on (the) condition (that)
for the purpose of
with this intention
with this in mind
in the hope that
to the end that
for fear that
in order to
in case
provided that
given that
only/even if
so that
so as to
owing to
inasmuch as
due to

Contrast Transition Words

If you have two differing ideas, contrast transitions help to set up those differences.

in contrast
different from
of course ..., but
on the other hand
on the contrary
at the same time
in spite of
even so/though
be that as it may
then again
(and) still
(and) yet
as much as
even though

Example and Emphasis Transition Words

Example and emphasis transition words and phrases explain or give more information about a previously introduced idea. Sometimes known as clarification transitions, these words help make your meaning more clear.

example and emphasis transition phrases examples

to be sure
in other words
to put it differently
for one thing
as an illustration
in this case
for this reason
to put it another way
that is to say
with attention to
by all means
in fact
in general
in particular
in detail
for example
for instance
to demonstrate
to emphasize
to repeat
to clarify

Addition and Enumeration Transition Words

Also known as agreement or similarity transitions, these words express agreement and reinforce relationships and ideas that came before.

as well as
together with
of course
equally important
in the first place
not only ... but also
as a matter of fact
in like manner
in addition
coupled with
in the same fashion/way
first, second, third
in the light of
not to mention
to say nothing of

Time Transition Words

Time transition words help define time in your writing. They explain how your ideas relate when it comes to time.

time transitional words examples

at the present time
from time to time
sooner or later
at the same time
up to the present time
to begin with
in due time
as soon as
as long as
in the meantime
in a moment
without delay
in the first place
in time
prior to
by the time

Conclusion Transitions

As you reach the end of an idea or or group of ideas, conclusion transitions can help introduce your final point or summarize previous information.

as can be seen
generally speaking
in the final analysis
all things considered
as shown above
in the long run
given these points
as has been noted
in a word
for the most part
after all
in fact
in summary
in conclusion
in short
in brief
in essence
to summarize
on balance
by and large
to sum up
on the whole
in any event
in either case
all in all

How to Use Transition Words More Effectively

Using transition words and phrases isn’t always as easy as it looks. Here are some best practices to keep in mind so that you can effectively use transition words.

1. Understand the relationship between your ideas

The better you understand the relationships between the ideas in your text, the more effectively you’ll be able to wield transition words and phrases. The relationships between your ideas will help you understand which you should pick.

2. Know your transition words

Different transitions are appropriate in different contexts. Don’t just pick a random transition to use. Make sure the one you’ve chosen is appropriate for what you’re trying to say. Also, don’t be afraid to try out a new transition word from the list we’ve provided above. Just like in other types of writing, repetitive language can be boring for your readers. Try out new transition words (as long as they’re the right type) to increase the interest of your writing.

2 transition tips: understand relationships between ideas and know transition categories

How ProWritingAid Helps You Improve Transition Words and Phrases in Your Writing

Since transitions help to organize your ideas and demonstrate connections, it’s important to include them in your writing to make it more clear. ProWritingAid can help. Our software analyzes your writing to determine whether or not you’ve used transitions appropriately in your work.

Depending on what you’re writing, you can find your Transitions score in two places: your goals and the Transition Report.

ProWritingAid knows that different genres require different amounts and types of transitions, so your suggested transition percentage changes depending on what you’re writing. If you’re working on an academic paper, for instance, transitional phrases are important to improving understanding. So you’ll find a goal for transitions in your sidebar.

On the other hand, formal transitions are less common in some types of fiction writing, so you may not see this goal if you’re working on say, a crime novel.

You can always find your score, regardless of what you’re writing, by running the Transition Report. The ProWritingAid Transition Report will scan your writing and give you a “transitions score." This measures the percentage of your sentences that begin with a transition word.

prowritingaid software highlighting all transition words at the start of sentences in a piece of text

Check your transitions with a free ProWritingAid account.

Transitions: The Links Between Ideas

To conclude, great transitions lead to more sophisticated structure. (See what we did there with that transition?!)

Adding transitions to your writing creates clear connections for your readers. By adding transitions, you’ll help your readers better understand what you’re trying to say.

Happy writing!

Common Questions about Transition Words and Phrases in English

Transition Usage

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