Using Transitional Words and Phrases

Learning Objectives:

  • Use transitional words and phrases within a multi-paragraph essay.
  • Identify pattern transitions within a multi-paragraph essay.

Writers use transitionsTying two events, passages, or pieces of information together in a smooth way. In writing, transitions are sometimes called links. to show connections between information. These connections help the reader understand the contentThe text in a writing that includes facts, thoughts, and ideas. The information that forms the body of the work. and the writer's purposeThe reason the writer is writing about a topic. It is what the writer wants the reader to know, feel, or do after reading the work.. Transitions help create cohesiveIn writing, ideas and evidence that work together to create a unified statement. writing by linkingTo connect ideas together within a paragraph or to create a transition from one paragraph to the next, as well as back to the thesis. sentencesA group of words, phrases, or clauses that expresses a complete thought. A complete sentence has these characteristics: a capitalized first word, a subject and a predicate, and end punctuation, such as a period (.), question mark (?), or exclamation mark (!). together, as well as linking paragraphsA selection of a writing that is made up of sentences formed around one main point. Paragraphs are set apart by a new line and sometimes indentation. together, all with the goal of connecting to the writer's thesisAn overall argument, idea, or belief that a writer uses as the basis for a work.. Writers can use transitions in different ways, but two of the most common are to use transitional wordsWords within a sentence that help tie one thought to another. Examples: however, similarly, also. and transitional phrasesPhrases within a sentence that help tie one thought to another. Examples: on the other hand, in contrast, for example. and to repeat key ideas, creating pattern transitionsWords and phrases that help organize a text and make it easier for the reader to follow an argument and help keep the focus on a particular idea. For example, writers may refer back to the thesis statement or main idea throughout the essay. Or they may start paragraphs with words like first, second, meanwhile, or after to show the time sequence of events..

Transitional Words and Phrases
Writers use transitional words and phrases to show connections between information.

Common Transitional Words and Phrases


For example









In the end



On the other hand


A writer can select from several other transitions when trying to achieve a certain effect in his or her essayA short piece of writing that focuses on at least one main idea. Some essays are also focused on the author's unique point of view, making them personal or autobiographical, while others are focused on a particular literary, scientific, or political subject. . This can include using transitions to show exemplificationA style of writing that uses personal experience to support an opinion., comparisonA discussion of two or more things based on the categories of characteristics they share. Written comparisons must include both the subjects being compared and the similarities and/or differences between the subjects. and contrastTo identify what is different between people, objects, or concepts., definitions, processes, or cause and effectAn examination of the relationship between why and/or how something happened. Causes, which are usually events or actions, lead to effects, or the consequences of those causes.. The tables below show examples of transitions that work well with each style of writing.

Transitions Showing Exemplification

Another example

For example


As an example

For instance

Such as

As evidenced by


To illustrate


In particular

To show this


Transitions Showing Comparison & Contrast



In the same way

As opposed to

In addition



In comparison

On the other hand


In contrast



Transitions Showing Definition

Another definition

As defined by

As supported with

Another meaning

As evidenced by

As these examples show

As compared with

As explained by

Is complicated by

As contrasted with

As illustrated by

To define


Transitions Showing Process




Another step



At this point







Transitions Showing Cause and Effect



On account of

As a result



Based on

In the end



In view of


Pattern Transitions
Another way to connect information is to use pattern transitions. In this technique, writers repeat key ideas to keep paragraphs cohesive and keep the focus on a particular idea. Writers will often refer back to the thesis statementA brief statement that identifies a writer's thoughts, opinions, or conclusions about a topic. Thesis statements bring unity to a piece of writing, giving it a focus and a purpose. You can use three questions to help form a thesis statement: What is my topic? What am I trying to say about that topic? Why is this important to me or my reader? or main ideaThe most important or central thought of a reading selection. It also includes what the author wants the reader to understand about the topic he or she has chosen to write about. throughout the essay. For example, if the topicThe subject of a reading. of the essay is how to apply for admission to college, then the writer will often refer to that by writing such phrasesA set of words that express an idea. A phrase may or may not form a complete sentence. as "Another step in the admission process…" or "Gaining admission to your college of choice is…"