Transitions are words and phrases that provide a connection between ideas, sentences and paragraphs. Transitions help to make a piece of writing flow better. They can turn disconnected pieces of ideas into a unified whole and prevent a reader from getting lost in the reading.
Since the goal of a writer is to convey information clearly and concisely, transitions help achieve that aim by providing a logical connection between one or more sections of a piece of writing. Transitions usually work best when used to link one paragraph to the next, and are usually found at the beginning of the paragraph, although they can be used anywhere when needed.
Some examples of transition words or phrases: another key point, indeed, in fact, first thing to remember, on the negative side, on the positive side.
A piece of writing usually contains two elements: the order in which different parts of a discussion or argument are provided to the readers, and the relationship the writer has used to link these parts together. Transitions cannot be used as a substitute for good organization but they do aid in making the writing easier and clearer to follow by keeping a constant, consistent flow from one paragraph to the next. Some clues which show that a writer needs to use transitions:
- The written work is choppy, abrupt and jumpy.
- The writer has moved from one point to the next abruptly and quickly without a visible connection between the two ideas.
- The readers have trouble following the writer’s train of thought or organization of ideas.
Disjointed Sentence: We will be here for a few more days so we can finish up some leftover work. We are staying longer because we do not want to miss the Tech Info conference taking place next week.
Revised with Transition: We will be here for a few more days so we can finish up some leftover work. Another reason why we are staying longer is because we do not want to miss the Tech Info conference taking place next week.
In the first sentence, the two ideas are abruptly linked without a transition present to connect the two together. In the revised version, the sentences are linked by a transition to connect the two ideas for smoother flow, giving the reader a better understanding of what the writer wanted them to know.
Transition examples are found:
1. Between Sections: In longer pieces of writing, transitional paragraphs summarize the information for readers, and specify the relevance of the information in the sections to come.
2. Between Paragraphs: Transitions form a relationship between paragraphs by connecting them with phrases, words or sentences that can be placed at the end of the first paragraph, the start of the second paragraph or in both places.
3. Within Paragraphs: These help the reader anticipate what is to come by acting as cues. Within paragraphs, transitions are usually short phrases or single words.
To show contrast between ideas: on the contrary, however, notwithstanding
To denote time: after, at last, before
To add to the previous point in the essay: furthermore, besides, moreover
To show similarity or comparison between ideas: likewise, similarly, in like fashion
To concede a point in the essay: although, at least, at any rate
To emphasize a point: indeed, above all, truly
To bring attention to details: especially, specifically, in particular
To show consequence or a result: with the result that, so that, consequently
To illustrate a point or provide examples: for instance, for example, to illustrate
To make a suggestion in the essay: to this end, for this purpose, with this in mind
To sum up the points: finally, therefore, consequently
Functions of Transitions
Transitions can be used in diverse circumstances. A transition can be a word, a phrase or even an entire paragraph. The function of a transition is the same in each case: it summarizes the content of the preceding paragraph or section and it helps the reader anticipate what’s to come in the next paragraph. However, the major function is not just to embellish one’s writing by making it read or sound better; these are words which serve the function of presenting the ideas in such a way that help the readers react in particular ways to the ideas presented. They play a very important part in helping the readers see the logical sequence of the idea.