Transitions

Peanut butter, caramel, marshmallow, what do these things have in common. They are all delicious treats, that also can be used to hold things together. As much as I would like to write about my favorite snacks, instead i’m going to talk about the glue that holds writing together… Transitions!

Without transitions holding together ideas and topics, your argument can seem “jumpy” and lacking connection. No one wants that. If you want your writing to be smooth and easy to follow, you need to use transitions.

Now the key question is, what exactly are transitions? They range from paragraphs, to phrases, to sentences, to simply just a few words. What’s most important is that they get the reader from point A to point B in the clearest way possible.

Examples:

  • I have been to many countries. For example, I have been to Russia, Canada, Mexico, and Spain.
    • Using “For example” lets the reader know that the next point you’re going to bring up is related to the previous point in that they are examples.
  • Tim was late. As a result, we could not go to the concert.
    • “As a result” is used to connect the next idea of missing the concert, with Tim being late.

If you take out these transitions, the sentences still make sense, but they sound choppy and separated. Also these transitions help the reader know where the writer is going next. It’s like saying “Hey, another idea is coming that’s related to what I just said!”, or “Now I’m going to give an exception.” Instead of yelling at your audience that another idea is coming, you can use transition words to get this point across. Transitions lead the reader from one idea to another.

Another important thing to understand about transitions, is how long they should be.

Transitions to connect sections: This should be used for longer essays and writing. You should add a paragraph in between the sections that summarizes what you just said, along with referencing its relevance to the next section.

Transitions to connect paragraphs and sentences: These can be short phrases that summarize and connect the past paragraph to what is going to be discussed in the next, or simply a few words that do the same.

Some simple transition words are:

  • However
  • For example
  • Similarly
  • In other words
  • As a consequence
  • Although

These can start a paragraph or a new sentence, and should be used when you are going from one point to another.

robot.pngDoes your essay seem choppy, and when you read it out loud you kind of sound like a robot? If so you may need to add TRANSITIONS.

A trick you can use to help make your writing smoother would be to summarize each paragraph into one word or a phrase, and make sure that it relates to the analysis as a whole.

Here are some more examples of properly used transitions:

  • James is not feeling well. Therefore, he will not be here today.
  • He was late to class again. In other words, he didn’t wake up on time.
  • Math was hard for me in high school. Likewise, it is hard in college.
  • Although the book is difficult to read, it is very interesting.

See, no robot sounds like this.

Source: http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/transitions/

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