Grammar 8 min read

Transition Words: How & Why to Use Them

Whether you’re trying to smooth out your writing and help readers follow along or just want an answer to the age-old question “What are transition words?”, we’ve got you covered.

We’ve scoured the internet for the most up-to-date information. We’ve even polled our experts to get the lowdown on the howevers, stills, and subsequent lines. All that wisdom is explained in this handy-dandy guide.

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Main Takeaways:

  • The four types of transition words are additive, adversative, causal, and sequential.
  • Transitional words help improve the flow between words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs.
  • Transition words help link ideas and statements.
  • Using transitional words at the beginning or end of a paragraph can help the reader understand when you introduce a new topic.
  • Transition words increase readability, which helps boost your SEO.

As so often happens in the wacky and exciting world of grammar, we often use grammatical concepts without even realizing we’re doing it. Transition words are a great example of that.

While you may already be using transition words in your writing on a day-to-day basis, you may not know why. Understanding what these words are and how to properly incorporate them into your writing could help you improve your skills.

Even better, using these tips could help you impress all kinds of important people—like your teacher, your boss, or yourself!

What are Transition Words?

Transition words are links that join together other words, phrases, or even entire sentences. Without them, a book or essay might seem choppy and disjointed. In addition to improving flow, transition words are a great way to help your audience progress from one idea to the next. Think of them as a way to tell your readers how they should process and understand the information you’re giving them. Including transition words is like installing GPS so your readers know exactly where they’re going and how to get there.

Transition words ensure the seamless flow of ideas in your content.
Transition words ensure the seamless flow of ideas in your content.

What are the Four Types of Transition Words?

There are a lot of different ways to categorize transition words. In this post, we will discuss the four main types of transition words: Additive, Adversative, Causal, and Sequential.

1. What are Additive Transitions?

These transition words add or introduce another idea. They may also reference a previously mentioned concept, identify a similarity, or clarify an idea. Additive transitional words include:

Also, And, Furthermore, Regarding, Similarly, Namely, Thus

2. What are Adversative Transitions?

Adversative transitions may be used to signal opposing ideas or dismiss a previously discussed idea altogether. Some adversative transition words include:

But, However, Conversely, Still, Besides, Although, Albeit, Admittedly, Instead, Rather

3. What are Causal Transitions?

As for causal transitions, they’re most commonly used to denote cause and effect. They may also indicate the reason an idea or action is happening or has happened. Causal transition words include:

For, Since, If, Unless, Hence, So, Then

4. What are Sequential Transitions?

As the name suggests, sequential transitions are used to put a sequence of ideas in order (usually chronological). This helps the reader understand where ideas fall in a list or when you’re wrapping up your text. Sequential transitions include:

Initially, Secondly, Thirdly, Subsequently, Previously, Eventually, Finally, Incidentally, Briefly, Overall, Hence, Altogether
PurposeTransition Words / PhrasesExample Sentences
Introduce New ConceptThus, Alternatively, In additionYou may drop by our office to discuss the coverage of your insurance policy. Alternatively, you can also chat with one of our agents online.
Reference Past ConceptMoreover, Also, SimilarlyThe new book she wrote has 300 pages. Similarly, the first one was long as well.
ContradictionWhile, Whereas, In contrastWhile the east part of the island is filled with beautiful flowers and trees, the west side has nothing but barren land.
DismissalWhichever happens, Whatever happens, In the eventWhatever happens in the meeting, you need to keep yourself calm and alert.
Cause and EffectAs a consequence, As a result, HenceHe was incarcerated for 20 years as a result of his heinous crimes.
Numerical SequenceFirstly, Secondly, In the (first, second, third…) placeIn the first place, he’s not involved in the project.
ResumptionTo get back to the point, To resumeTo get back to the point, I propose that we increase our marketing budget for next quarter.
ConclusionFinally, In short, In sumIn short, it’s not about you or me. It’s about the future of the next generation.

What are Some Examples of Transition Words and Phrases?

In addition to all the words listed above, there are some multi-word phrases that you can use to improve your text:

Not to mention, Equally important, As a matter of fact, Not only/But Also, In addition, In fact, For example, What is more, In particular, On the other hand, When in fact, But even so, Whatever happens, In any case, Because of, Due to, In the event that, With this in mind, To conclude, By the way, To return to the subject, As has been mentioned, Given these points
Transition words help you switch smoothly between ideas. Seamlessly like the changing of seasons
Transition words help you switch smoothly between ideas. Seamlessly like the changing of season.

What are Some Examples of Transition Sentences?

The best way to understand how transitional words work is to see them in action. Remember, as important as these grammatical tools are, it’s not a good idea to overuse them. Too many transitional phrases can make your text seem complicated and wordy. It could also make you seem like a chronic overexplainer, and nobody wins when that happens.

You can use transitions to go from sentence to sentence:

I fell off my bike. As a result, I have a terrible bruise.
I hate chocolate ice cream. Furthermore, I don’t think strawberry is very good either.
Mary didn’t want to go to prom. Instead, she threw a house party and invited all her friends.

You can also use transition words and phrases to go from paragraph to paragraph:

A career in e-commerce can be exciting and lucrative. With the right foundation and planning, you can make lots of money selling online. At the same time, investing in e-commerce can be risky. The key to success is plenty of preparation and research.

Transition to a Closing

Finally, you can use transitions to introduce a new section or conclude your previous one—or wrap up the entire text. You may even use a transition to reinforce the general idea of your content before ending your piece:

Lastly, put the cake in the oven to cook.
Overall, the majority of people agree that the sky is blue, grass is green, and pineapple on pizza is delicious.
In conclusion, transitional phrases are an important part of mastering proper grammar and making your text easy to read.

Why Are Transition Words Important for SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a process that involves optimizing your content for search engines to help improve ranking. The higher you are in search results, the more visibility your content will have. The more visible your content, the more people will see and learn about your brand.

Unlike keywords or meta tags, transitions between sentences or paragraphs don’t directly help boost your search ranking. Instead, it’s all about readability and structure.

See, Google runs on algorithms and those algorithms are big fans of order and ease of use. In other words, clarity is everything.

In the olden days (you know, like the 2010s), Google was like a heat-seeking missile for keywords. Basically, the more keywords you could stuff in your copy, the better you’d rank. That led to a lot of web pages that said something like, “buckets buckets buy some buckets buckets for sale the best buckets.”

What are they selling? You guessed it: buckets!

Google (and the rest of the world) soon realized the keyword stuffing wasn’t really good for anyone. Instead, search engines began focusing on how web pages could best serve the reader. Now, algorithms analyze web content for readability, and transition words play a huge role in that determination.

Transition Words Give Direction

Transition words give your work direction
Transition words give your work direction

Transition words also help you structure your content. Remember our road map? Transitional words can act as street signs, pointing readers left or right, directing them to take a U-turn, or propelling them onward.

Bottom line: Transition words make your content easier to read and understand. For this reason, it’s vital to rely not only on helpful tools but also on your own mind. If it reads well to you, it’ll likely read well to your audience.

Transition Words Quick Grammar Quiz

Which type of transition signals opposing ideas?

Adversative transitions may be used to signal opposing ideas or dismiss a previously discussed idea altogether.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The correct answer is letter C. Adversative transition words may be used to signal opposing ideas or dismiss a previously discussed idea altogether. (E.g., but, however, conversely, still, and besides)

What's an example of a causal transition word?

Consequently is an example of causal transition word.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The correct answer is letter B. Consequently along with words like for, since, unless, as a result, and hence are all causal transition words. (E.g., "Flexible workers often find themselves in great demand, and consequently, earn high wages.")

Why are transition words important to SEO?

Transition words help improve the flow of ideas within a piece of content, making it more readable and easy to understand. Content with an excellent readability score is good for your SEO.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The correct answer is letter B. Transition words help improve the flow of ideas within a piece of content, making it more readable and easy to understand. Content with a high readability score can boost your SEO.

Read More: What Does A Question Mark Sign Mean?

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Krista Grace Morris

Krista heads up Marketing and Content Creation here at INK. From Linguistics and History to puns and memes, she's interested in the systems we create to share our ideas with each other.

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