Definition of Transition

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 storyline.

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 include:

  • 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: (1) the order in which different parts of a discussion or argument are provided to the readers; and (2) 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 that a writer needs to use transitions include:

  • 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.

Following is an example of a disjointed paragraph can be made to flow smoothly by the use of transitions:

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 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.

Common Locations of Transitions

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 serving as cues. Within paragraphs, transitions are usually short phrases or single words.

Examples of Transition

Example #1:

To show contrast between ideas: on the contrary, however, notwithstanding

Example #2:

To denote time: after, at last, before

Example #3:

To add to the previous point in the essay: furthermore, besides, moreover

Example #4:

To show similarity or comparison between ideas: likewise, similarly, in like fashion

Example #5:

To concede a point in the essay: although, at least, at any rate

Example #6:

To emphasize a point: indeed, above all, truly

Example #7:

To bring attention to detail: especially, specifically, in particular

Example #8:

To show consequence or a result: with the result that, so that, consequently

Example #9:

To illustrate a point or provide examples: for instance, for example, to illustrate

Example #10:

To make a suggestion in the essay: to this end, for this purpose, with this in mind

Example #11:

To sum up the points: finally, therefore, consequently

Function of Transition

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 readers react in particular ways to the ideas presented. They play a very important part in helping readers see the logical sequence of the idea.

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