In this blog entry I’m going to talk with you about transition words. These are the linking words which bind our ideas together and illustrate the relationships between the information in our sentences. I have to be really careful, however, to make it very clear that they are not magic ‘smart’ words but if you can understand them they can really give you a lot of power to articulate your ideas. These words are nothing but pretence when you use them carelessly. Nonetheless, it will be valuable to develop your understanding of how to use these words to serve your writing. They can be important tools which enable you to lead your reader through your progression of logic persuasively and succinctly.
Linking Words and High Heels
I want to illustrate this point by sharing with you a funny story about something a very witty woman, with whom I work on campus, told me about transition words and high heels. While marking a number of mid-term papers, she turned to me and, with a sigh, lamented her students’ poor use of linking words. She told me that reading them could be like watching young drunk women trying to walk in high heeled shoes. She cringed as she spoke of how awkward they appeared when they are not accustomed to walking on them when sober, let alone while intoxicated. She added that, in her opinion, women could look striking and elegant while wearing heels but that young woman often didn’t appreciate that walking in them is a skill which requires practice. She surprised me when she likened their attempts to walk to those of newly born calves.
Transition words are wonderful tools. Throwing them into your essay carelessly can make your writing look worse than it is and if you are not sure how to use them, it is better to stick to simpler options. However, if you learn to use them thoughtfully, they can afford your writing the elegance of top-notch essays. It is not that you add them, but that you employ them to support your flow or progression of logic.
20 Examples of Important Transition Words
There are many linking words which can lead us into additional information and while it is useful to vary your vocabulary beyond ‘and,’ these words are not mere replacements for ‘and.’ They have nuanced differences, thus, by these particular meanings, we can offer a more delicate illustration of the relationships between our ideas.
- ‘Furthermore’ is used to add information that expands upon the previous point. It precedes information that expands upon that already given. It usually occurs at the beginning of an independent clause.
- ‘Moreover’ and ‘More so’ are both similar to ‘furthermore’ while giving special emphasis to the greater importance of the following clause.
- “Despite cutting back on other staff, her father gave her a position, furthermore, he gave her an enviable office while still not having a role for her.”
- Writers also sequence additional information. ‘Firstly,’ ‘secondly’ and ‘thirdly’ are obvious options used to achieve this, however, there are others. For example, we can look into the past with ‘previously,’ ‘until the present’ or ‘preceded by.’
- “Present growth in the company was *preceded by several quarters of stagnation”*
- ‘Meanwhile’ and ‘simultaneously’ talk about things which are happening at the same time as another, while ‘concurrently’ does this while emphasizing that the two ideas have played out in conjunction with one another.
- Usually, ‘incidentally’ is used to add relevant information while downplaying its significance compared with that of other ideas.
- “The priority of the zoo had been to protect species’ from extinction. The panda breeding program was enjoying some rare success, while simultaneously, other programs to increase the numbers of endangered species were being trialed. Meanwhile, the zoo was being visited by an influx of tourists who were, incidentally, able to enjoy seeing the young animals.”
- ‘Subsequently’ and ‘afterward’ lead into information after the fact.
Compare and Contrast
When writers need to illustrate similarity they can employ words such as ‘in like manner,’ ‘comparatively,’ and ‘correspondingly.’ Whereas, when they wish to highlight difference they have phrases like ‘on the contrary,’ ‘however,’ ‘notwithstanding,’ ‘nevertheless’ and ‘on the other hand.’
Notwithstanding the vehement opposition to online education programs being made available to inmates, considerable improvements were made to the re-employment prospects of many offenders who benefited from the trial. On the contrary, prisoners who were not able to access education while incarcerated were found to be more likely to reoffend and return to prison.
When it comes time to clarify an argument or point, some of the transitional phrases which are used are, ‘to reiterate,’ ‘specifically,’ or ‘inasmuch as.’
Consequence and Conclusion
When we have lead our reader through our flow of logic, there might be nothing more rewarding than driving our point home by showing consequence or concluding our arguments. There are a lot of strong phrases such as ‘accordingly,’ ‘hence,’ ‘thus’ and ‘thereupon’ which can do this.
I hope you will feel encouraged, by this article, to continue to further your understanding of how transitional words can work to guide your reader through your flow of logic. When used well, they add power and order to your argument and can add to the result you see from your work
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