July 13, 2021| Category: Writing Tips
Clear writing and effective presentation of thoughts are essential parts of academic papers. Each person wants to read essays with clear ideas, logical flow, and properly structured information. No matter how valuable information you present in a paper, it becomes absolutely useless if the audience cannot understand the main idea because of abrupt thoughts, vague structure, and not tied paragraphs. Transitions work as the components that help shift from one idea to another, creating a connection between the paragraphs.
What Is the Role of Transitions?
A transition is a specific word or a phrase that helps to shift from one idea to another, helping to connect to statements. Depending on what a transition unites, you may put it at the beginning of a sentence, a clause, or a paragraph. A major role of a transition is to ensure that the information in the text flows logically and softly, you have clear ideas and effective thoughts. However, they will not work if you do not have powerful transitions between them. Transitions do not affect clear writing, as this is your responsibility as a writer to develop ideas consequently. However, transitional phrases help link these ideas to show the logic between paragraphs and in this way, to help a reader to see the unity of a text.
Categories of Transitions
Years of practice have helped us develop a system of how transitional words and phrases can be categorized. There are four basic categories of transitions you may use in writing. The choice of a transition category depends on the purpose of your writing and the idea you want to deliver to a reader.
- Additive transitions help you to inform the reader that the following information is additional
- Adversative transitions show that the following information may conflict or disagree with the previously provided
- Causal transitions point to the cause-and-effect relationships between the ideas
- Sequential transitions show a strict sequence of ideas pointing to the structure of a paper
More information about each of the transitional categories is provided below.
These words and phrases help indicate that the following information will add new facts, deepen into the discussion of the previous data, refer to some examples and/or clarifications, or stress some information making it valuable. Here are some of the examples of transitional words you may use in different situations:
- You may refer to the following phrases when you want to add some information: additionally, also, moreover, furthermore, in addition to, as well as and the same which reflect the idea of providing additional information
- If you plan to introduce or highlight some ideas, use the following transitions: notably, such as, for example, particularly, for instance, especially
- When you plan to refer to some facts, you may write the following: considering, regarding, concerning, as for, with regards to, looking at, on the subject of
- You may wish to show similarity: equally, similarly, in a similar way, likewise, in the same way
- In case you need to clarify or identify important information, you may use the following words: namely, specifically, in other words, what this means is, this means (that)
This type of transition helps to show that further information will contradict the already mentioned facts. These transitions are useful when you want to present different points of view, in argumentative and opinion papers, in critical discussions.
- You may contrast some idea of show conflict by means of the following words: still, however, whereas, in contrast, conversely, on the contrary, while, on the other hand, but, by way of contrast
- When you distinguish or emphasize the idea, you may wish to use the following words: besides, significantly, even more, primarily, above all, indeed, more/most importantly
- Conceding a point of the discussion, you may resort to: nonetheless, although, despite, however, admittedly, even if/ though, regardless of, in spite of, notwithstanding, nevertheless
- If you want to dismiss an argument, use the following phrases: either way, in any case, in any event, regardless of, whatever happens, at any rate
- You may wish to replace an argument or indicate an alternative with the following phrases: rather, instead of, at least
Causal transitions indicate the reasons or purpose of the information. They may help point to the conditions and circumstances of the events. All in all, these phrases point to the cause-and-effect relationships between the parts of the text.
- If you need to show cause or reason of a particular idea or event, you may resort to: since, for, as, because, due to, owing to
- When you explain the conditions, you may need to use the phrases like: if…then, only if, granting/ granted that, provided that, as/so long as, unless, in the event that
- Pointing to the result or effect of a particular event, you may refer to: therefore, consequently, thus, because of, accordingly, as a consequence, as a result
- If you want to show a person some idea or statement, you may directly write: for the purpose of, in the hope that, with this idea in mind, in order to
- You may highlight the significance of circumstances by means of: otherwise, in that case, under those circumstances, if so
These transitions are helpful in organizing your paper in a highly structured manner. In this case, the reader will definitely see what comes first, what next, and which stages are final. There are several ways of organizing these ideas, including the numbers and sequential words.
- If you want to arrange your list in a numerical manner using smooth text, you need to use the following words: firstly, secondly, thirdly, (first/second/third), finally, first of all, to start/begin with
- In cases you need to show continuation, you will refer to the words like: previously, subsequently, afterwards, next, eventually
- Summarizing ideas by repeating some information may be presented as follows: once again, in summary, to repeat, as mentioned/stated earlier/above
- You may resume the previously mentioned ideas by means of the following statements: incidentally, anyway, coincidentally, returning to the subject, by the way, to resume, at any rate
- If you need to finish your writing, you may use words like: hence, finally, therefore, overall, consequently, to conclude/ in conclusion, altogether, as a final point, ultimately, given these points, in summary, thus, to summarize
Types of Transitions
Thus, depending on the purpose of the further information, there are different categories of transitions. At the same time, there are also the types of transition. This information will help you properly choose the transition word you want to use and make your writing clear and logically smooth. The types of transitions have been categorized depending on the parts of the text they unite and their length. Transitions can be a word, a phrase, a sentence, or a paragraph. Everything depends on the pieces you want to unite. If you connect two sentences, a word or a phrase will be enough. At the same time, if you unite large ideas, you may need a sentence to develop a clear tie. Finally, in case you have to connect large parts such as chapters in the dissertations, you may need a transition paragraph to shift from one chapter to another and to show the connection between those.
- Transitions between sections. You may use this type of transitions between large parts of a text such as chapters in a dissertation. It is essential to draw conclusions of each chapter before beginning a new one. You may summarize the chapter and clarify why the next section is important.
- Transitions between paragraphs. If you write an essay, you may need to skip from one idea to another. If you do it without transitions, it may sound illogical and abrupt. Using transitional sentences and phrases, you may conclude what you have written in a paragraph and tie this idea to the information you will develop in the next paragraph.
- Transitions within paragraphs. You may definitely need to come from one idea to another within a paragraph. Use transitional words to show a reader the flow of your ideas.
Common Mistakes in Using Transitions
We pay much attention to the use of transitional words because many writers improperly utilize them in their writing. Poor insertion of a transition word or a phrase may distract a reader from checking your paper. The consequences may be devastating if a reader is your professor who will not be able to assess your essay properly, or your audience, for example, who will not check your content, and you will not attract many people to your blog.
Improperly used transitions may spoil the content of your paper, and it will lose its sense and logical flow. Here is a list of the most common mistakes writers make when they misrepresent the connections between sentences and ideas.
1. Wrong use of therefore
The main idea of “therefore” transition word is to show a cause-and-effect result. Many writers use this word to introduce the conclusion statement, which is not always correct. Moreover, using this word many writers make illogical connections. For example, it will be logically wrong to say the following:
We asked the subjects to either confirm or reject the statement. Therefore, we received more confirmed statements than expected.
The fact that the research results show more confirmations is not a result of the choice of a scale. It will be correct to say the following:
We asked the subjects to either confirm or reject the statement. As a result, we received more confirmed statements than expected.
2. Beginning a sentence with also, and, or so
Writing academic papers, you need to structure a sentence properly following a formal writing style. If you use such words as “also,” “and,” and “so” in your writing, you risk receiving a lower mark. It is wrong to write:
Also, a teacher offered students an additional task.
It is better to write:
A teacher also offered students an additional task.
3. Transition words creating sentence fragments
Some writers confuse transitional words with subordinating conjunctions. For example, such words as “although” and “because” may serve as transitional words and subordinating conjunctions. In the first case, you may remove transitions without violating the meaning of a sentence. In the case of subordinating conjunctions, a word is a part of a sentence, and it is impossible either to remove the word or write one clause separately from another. It is wrong to write the following,
Mr. Green has personal position in this situation. Although the family members show their disagreement.
There are several ways of writing correctly:
Mr. Green has personal position in this situation although the family members show their disagreement.
Mr. Green has personal position in this situation. However, the family members show their disagreement.
4. It is wrong to substitute and by a phrase as well as
Writers frequently use “and” and “as well as” as interchangeable phrases. However, this is wrong. When you use “and”, you presuppose that two points you mention are equally important, while the phrase “as well as” adds some additional information being less important. An example of a wrong transition use:
The course offers some theoretical information as well as introduces practical classes.
The use of a transitional phrase is incorrect because it sets some theoretical information more valuable than the practical part, which is not true.
It is better to say in the following way,
The course offers some theoretical information and introduces practical classes.
The course introduces practical classes as well as offers some theoretical information.
Mind that in case you use “both in a sentence, you must use “and” and never “as well as.”
5. Use of and/or
Writing academic papers you should refuse using a combination of transition words “and/or”. Moreover, it is important to mind the meaning. It may sound incorrect if you ask:
Would you like some water and/ or sandwiches?
It will be better to offer water, sandwiches, or both.
6. Use of archaic transitions
Sometimes, you may come across such word forms as “hereby,” “therewith,” and the like. Writers do not use these forms in the contemporary English language, and you use a direct quote, you may leave it. However, no need to use it in your writing.
The use of transition words should be properly developed; do not allow abrupt or unplanned use of transitions in your writing. When you write an essay, you need to develop a proper outline and attentively select the words you will use in writing.
The use of transitions should be sparing. Do not put transition words in the places where you feel they are not necessary. At the same time, you should definitely add a transition word if the ideas you have written lack unity. Still, do not overburden your essay, as too many transition words spoil the paper as well as their lack.