One of your responsibilities as a writer is to build a relationship between yourself and the reader. An easy way to do that is to start with your words. Build a relationship between your ideas, thoughts, and emotions; then you can connect to your audience. Whether you are writing essays, novels, or your next writing assignment, transition words show the reader what to do with the information you present to them.
Has anyone ever told you that it is difficult to follow your train of thought? Perhaps you tend to write the same way that you think (by jumping between ideas). If so, then you could use some help on your transition words and phrases. If your organization looks more like you pasted several different paragraphs together, you definitely need help.
Think of transitions as a smooth connecting bridge between sentences and paragraphs, thoughts and ideas.
Aim to create writing that is smooth, with few abrupt jumps between sentences and ideas. Doing this will make you a better writer and convey thoughts with more authority and clarity. Guess what? Now your silky smooth writing will help you to score higher on your next writing assignment – who doesn’t want that?
Also, feel free to check out our article about tips to win procrastination in writing!
Put Into Practice
Take a look at the following for an example to see what happens when you leave out transition words.
“Learning to play guitar is not easy. Basic lessons can be frustrating and give only little reward. Many young guitar players quit at this early stage. They should dedicate the time to learn how to play well. You will never be good at guitar if you don’t take the time to practice.”
Wow. Reading this feels like standing in line at the movies – like you’re never going to get to the point that the writer is trying to make.
Here is that same paragraph revised using transition words.
“Learning to play guitar is not easy because you cannot immediately play your favorite song and entertain your friends. Although basic lessons can be frustrating and give only little reward, after a few hours you will be strumming along like a pro! Many young guitar players quit at an early stage despite having many resources to help them learn. As a result, you should remember not to give up when you start learning and dedicate the time necessary to get good at it. Eventually, you will be jamming alongside your favorite tunes and be planning your future life as a rock star.”
See? Now we are getting somewhere!
The point of this exercise is to show the reader connections between your thoughts by using connecting words. If you can remember to show WHY a reader should care (aka what’s in it for them) then they will remain engaged throughout your writing. The first paragraph doesn’t tie anything together or give the reader a reason to care. Meanwhile, the second paragraph describes the reasons for quitting and shows him what to do with the information that you have given him!
The first paragraph doesn’t tie anything together or give the reader a reason to care. Meanwhile, the second paragraph describes the reasons for quitting and shows him what to do with the information that you have given him – boom!
It’s simple: transition words will make you a better writer.
Using Your Transitions
Transition words and phrases provide the glue to help the reader understand the relationship between your ideas. They improve logical organization and readability to help the reader follow the movement of the discussion. Lastly, they can also alert the reader to a change in mood from the previous sentence.
Here are some quick examples of transition words and when to use them. Consider these as tools to add to your writing toolkit. You don’t need to bloat your sentences with them.
- To add information: also, furthermore, besides
- To show contrast: but, however, instead
- To show concession: yet, nevertheless, however
- To emphasize: in fact, actually, naturally
- To summarize: after all, in any case, in conclusion
Taking Transitions To The Next Level
After you understand what transition words are and why you use them, you are now ready to put them into practice. But before you do that, remember the two major uses for your new tools are to show a transition between logic and a transition between thought.
A Transition of logic consists of words or phrases that convey “logical intent”: that is, they show the logical connection between two ideas. Some hints for use:
- When you write, think about the relationship between your ideas and use an appropriate transition to let your reader know what you are thinking. Ex: in addition, however, lastly, then, specifically
- Be careful not to use too many transitions, which can sound wordy and add clutter to your sentence structure
- Transitions become stronger when they are the first word in a sentence and milder when they are moved a few words into the sentence
A transition of thought consists of words or phrases that help maintain the continuity of thought from one sentence or paragraph to the next. Some other hints:
- Pronouns and possessive pronouns flow the sentence or idea around the same subject
- Keyword repetition within your sentences will help keep your reader engaged
Treat transition words like you are building bridges between your sentences. Transition words show your audience the connection between sentences and paragraphs, thoughts and ideas. Once the reader knows what to do with the information you have given him and why he should pay attention, he can follow your arguments and be engaged.
Remember, just because you can insert a transition word doesn’t mean you have to. But with fewer abrupt jumps between thoughts and ideas, your writing will flow better.
In closing, your quest to become a better writer involves adding tools to your tool kit and using them when appropriate. The only way to write with clarity is to practice, so open up that assignment and get to it!
Hopefully, the lessons in this article were helpful to you. Let us know in the comments section. For more free tips on becoming a better student, subscribe to our email list!