How to Use Transition Phrases Effectively For Better Writing

Writing is a critical skill for any researcher or academic. In order to write well in English, it is essential to be able to connect ideas so that they flow well and your thoughts are clear. However, too many transition phrases, or poorly placed transition phrases, can have the opposite effect of making writing difficult to understand. Learning to effectively use transition phrases will ensure that your writing is smooth and can be readily understood by your reader. In this article, we look at some common transition phrases, discuss how and when to use them, and also discuss how you can avoid making mistakes when using transition phrases in English writing.

What are Transition Words and Phrases?

Transition words and phrases are just what they sound like: phrases or words that are used to communicate a move from one sentence, paragraph, section, or idea to another. They clarify the relationship between two sentences or ideas, linking them together. Transition words or phrases can introduce or add on, oppose or limit, express causality or conditionality, indicate an example, or conclude a thought. Some common transition words and phrases, and what they are used for, are shown in the table below.

 

Introduce/Agree/Add on Example/Support Oppose/Limit Cause and Effect Conditionality Conclude
Coupled with For example Unlike Since Unless To sum up
To begin In general However Hence If In short
First of all In fact On the contrary Therefore Even if To conclude
First/Second/Third/

Fourth

Notably In contrast Due to As long as In summary
Moreover Significantly Although As a result of In case Altogether
In addition Specifically Conversely Under the circumstances Whether Overall
Further/Furthermore Markedly On the other hand Consequently   In essence
Likewise To clarify Notwithstanding      
And Especially Despite      

 

These are not the only transition words, although you will see them frequently in academic and scientific writing. Other types of transitions include time transitions (earlier, before, later, as soon as, suddenly, when) and location transitions (beside, behind, in front of, next to, beyond, below, above). Transition words frequently are placed at the beginning or end of a sentence. Longer transition phrases likewise tend to be placed at the beginning or end of a paragraph or section, but they can be placed wherever two ideas need to be connected.

How Do I Use Transition Words and Phrases?

Let’s look at a couple of examples of how to use transition words effectively. Take the following paragraph.

Students who study more hours don’t necessarily do better than their peers. A recent study showed that there was no benefit to studying six hours to prepare for a test compared to four hours. Students who studied four hours a day did better on a test than students who did not study. Students who studied two hours did the same as students who studied four hours for the same test.

While it is clear that the paragraph above is discussing how time spent studying relates to test results for students, it is a little bit difficult to follow the author’s argument. Let’s rewrite this paragraph with transition words.

Students who study more hours don’t necessarily do better than their peers. In fact, a recent study showed that there was no benefit to studying six hours to prepare for a test compared to four hours. Admittedly, students who studied four hours a day did better on a test than students who did not study. However, students who studied for two hours did the same as students who studied four hours for the same test.

The transition phrases clarify the author’s opinion and what they want to tell us about the study. Transition words and phrases should also be used to connect paragraphs when writing. These phrases can be written at the end of the preceding paragraph or the beginning of the subsequent paragraph.

For example:

Next, I will discuss the impacts of sleep habits on studying.

Contrary to the previous argument, some scientists believe vaccines should not be patented.

As a result of this meeting, it was decided to levy sanctions.

Common Transition Word Mistakes

The most common mistakes that writers make when using transition phrases are due to not knowing the exact meaning of the transition words they are using. One example of frequently confused transitions are the phrases “even if” and “even though.”

Correct: Even if they give us funding, there won’t be enough money to pay an intern.

Incorrect: Even though they give us funding, there won’t be enough money to pay an intern.

Even if refers to a future conditional, while even though should be used to explain a present or past conditional. “Therefore” is another commonly misused transition word, as many writers struggle to use it for cause and effect.

Correct: I ate all of the apples, and therefore no apples remain.

Incorrect: I ate all of the apples, and therefore it is raining outside.

“Therefore” should only be used to mean “A happened, and (therefore) as a result, B happened.” Since I am not a witch who can eat apples to cause rain, the second example sentence is incorrect.

Another common problem with transition words is using them in the wrong place in a sentence. For example, the words “and,” “but,” “also,” and “so” are common transition words, but should not be used at the beginning of a sentence in formal academic writing. When they are in the beginning of a sentence, they should be replaced with “in addition,” “however,” “therefore,” and so on.

Get Your Transitions Right Every Time

Learning to use transition words correctly takes practice, but even the most seasoned academic writers can still have trouble. If you are unsure when, where, why, or how to use transition words or sentences in your academic writing, using an AI grammar checker like Trinka can help you. Trinka can not only help you by suggesting improvements to your writing. Trinka’s Academic Phrasebank can provide you with phrases or sentences while you are writing if you just can’t think of the right way to say something. If you need to figure out how to introduce a new topic, contrast two ideas, and so on, Trinka’s academic phrasebank can give you suggestions with just one click. There is no need to struggle with transitions in your writing anymore!

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