What is a transition word?

Transition words are words that join sentences and phrases together. Also known as linking or connecting words, transition words help us move from one idea to the next in such a way that readers can understand. Using them correctly gives our writing a sense of structure and flow, making it more coherent and enjoyable to read.

What are the essential transition words?

Check out this essential transition words list for your little ones to keep in their back pocket when writing balanced arguments, persuasive writing, stories, or instructional texts.

  • Firstly
  • Furthermore
  • In addition to this
  • Next
  • According to this,
  • Nearby
  • Father
  • Conversely

Types of transitional words or phrases

While there are many different transition words and many uses for them in a sentence, these can be divided into three different types of transitional words. These include:

  1. Transition words between areas or subjects: Students might use transition words to move between topics or issues when writing longer narratives or assessments.
  2. Transitions between paragraphs: If you are writing in multiple sections, you might need to use particular order transition words between paragraphs to guide the reader through the text. These transitions highlight a relationship between two points or paragraphs by summarising the previous paragraph and suggesting something of the content of the new paragraph. A transition between paragraphs can be a word or two, such as, for example, similarly.
  3. Transitions within paragraphs: Similar to changes used between sections and paragraphs, changes can help readers anticipate what is coming before they read it.

What are some examples of transition words? Transition words list

Before you begin writing with your students, you might want to browse this transition words list.

However, Therefore In contrast,
Also In addition to this, Moreover,
On the other hand, On the contrary, As a result
Furthermore, Hence Again,
Finally, Regardless Because of this,
Comparatively In contrast, In comparison,
In that case, For this reason Last week
One morning, Again For example,
Nearby Firstly Next door,
Despite this Secondly Rather than
All of a sudden Thirdly Similarly

How do you use transition words?

Transition words and phrases are parts of a sentence that can be used between sentences and paragraphs to explain the relationship between information and thoughts. In simple terms, the words and phrases in this transition words list tell the reader what to do with the knowledge that surrounds them. They function as written signs that tell the readers how to think about, organize, and react to the ideas that your students are writing about.

Just like many other word classes, there are many ways that you can use transition words in your student’s writing. Transition words are primarily used to compare, contrast, summarise, order, and reinforce ideas in writing. Typically, you’ll find transition words at the beginning of a new sentence, but they can also be found between clauses and occasionally at the end.

In total, there are ten ways that your students will use transition words. Read on to learn more about some of these uses.

1) Using transition words to contrast:

If you are writing a balanced argument or discussing a topic from multiple angles, you might want to use transition words to contrast ideas. To use transition words to determine pictures, you must first establish your first fact or opinion. For example, in the following sentence, you will need to open your sentence with a contrasting transition word before explaining an opposing idea or option. For example:

  • I had a big breakfast this morning. However, I am still hungry. – This shows the contrast between similar things or between expectation and reality.
  • She wanted to go to the party on Saturday. On the other hand, she had a big test on Monday, and she should study. – This shows a comparison of two choices or two sides of an issue

Contrasting transition words and phrases, such as ‘but,’ ‘rather,’ and ‘or,’ suggest that there is evidence or a reason to believe the opposite or point out alternatives.

2) Using transition words to show consequences:

We learn in school that every action has an equal reaction. Therefore, to show cause, effect, and consequences, your student must learn to use transition words such as ‘as a result,’ ‘therefore,’ ‘then,’ and ‘consequently.’ These are time words that are used to show that, after a particular time, there was a consequence or an effect. See these examples of this use of transition words:

  • As a result of the late bus, I was late for school. – Here, we have used the transitional phrase to indicate the relationship between two events.
  • He was absent over 50% of the time and missed the final exam. Therefore, he failed the course. – This signals a causal relationship. Also signals a logical conclusion or reasonable inference.

3) Using transition words to suggest order

Transition words are commonly used to indicate an order or sequence. This is common in stories and instructional texts, as they suggest to the reader in what order the events occurred. For example, First, next, then, second, and then.

Check out these simple examples to see the order of transition words in action.

  • Second, he walked the dog for 20 minutes.
  • Third, he came home and got ready for school.
  • Finally, he locked the house door and caught the bus on time.

6) Using transition words to conclude or summarise ideas.

Transitional phrases can finally be used to conclude, summarise and provide a final statement in a narrative. For example

  • She had a lovely time at the wedding
  • In the end, they lived happily ever after
  • In conclusion, research has shown regular assessments benefit students
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