Abruptly switching topics in essays can be jarring; however, transition words can smooth the change for the convenience of the reader. Moreover, you can use essay transition words to start a paragraph, sentence, or clause more naturally. Additionally, essay transition words can connect new information to the previous statement so you don’t have to say everything at once.
This guide looks at how to use transition words in essays. We’ll explain what they are and how to use them, plus we even share an essay transition word list with the most common and useful transition words examples.
What are essay transition words?
In general, transition words and phrases bridge the gap between two topics whose connection isn’t obvious. Transition words and phrases like however, although, likewise, and on the contrary cue the reader that a change is coming so they know to expect it.
The type of transition word or phrase signals which type of change is coming. For example, transition words like therefore show a cause-and-effect relationship, while transition words like in conclusion introduce a summary or wrap-up. Often, conjunctive adverbs work well as transition words.
Essay transition words are no different from other types of transition words. They are often the same words and phrases used in other pieces of writing, just used for all types of essay, such as an informative essay or a narrative essay.
How to use essay transition words
Transition words and phrases are used to make transition sentences, which either contain two opposing topics in the same sentence or join together the opposing sentences or paragraphs that come before and after the transition sentence.
Essay transition words aren’t necessary for every sentence; you need them only when a shift in topic is so pronounced that it interrupts the writing flow. For example, consider this example, which doesn’t use transition words:
The GPS told us to go left. We went right.
Although those two sentences are grammatically correct, the abrupt change in topic is a bit jarring to readers. Some may feel like they need to reread the passage because they’re worried they missed something. That’s where transition words come in handy.
The GPS told us to go left. However, we went right.
The transition word however acts as a signal to the reader to prepare for a change in topic. When the reader sees transition words like this, they know to expect the switch, so it’s not so jarring.
You can use transition words to start a paragraph, sentence, clause, or even a brief phrase or individual word.
Although tired, we had to continue.
Even in situations when the connection between topics is obvious, essay transition words can help keep your writing organized and comprehensible. This is especially true with ordinal numbers and transition words like next, then, and last, all of which keep items from a series or sequence in order.
First, you wet your hair, and then you apply the shampoo. Last, you rinse the shampoo with warm water.
Keep in mind that transition words aren’t always sentence starters. Sometimes essay transition words and phrases like also, too, or above all can come at the end of a sentence, clause, or phrase.
We were happy to get second place, but we wanted first place above all.
However, most essay transition words work best at the beginning of a sentence, where they can more effectively bridge the gap between two seemingly unrelated topics.
92 transition words examples
Essay transition word list for contradictions
- above all
- as much as
- on the contrary
- on the other hand
Essay transition word list for additions
- coupled with
- equally important
- in addition
- in the same way
Essay transition word list for introducing examples
- for example
- for instance
- in particular / particularly
- to illustrate
Essay transition word list for conditions and cause and effect
- as a result
- as long as
- because of
- due to
- for fear of
- for this reason
- in effect
- in the event of
- under these/those circumstances
Essay transition word list for extra clarification
- after all
- by all means
- in fact
- in general
- in other words
- of course
- to clarify
Essay transition word list for summarizing
- briefly / in brief
- in conclusion
- in summary/summation
- in the end
- to summarize
Essay transition word list for time relations
- at the same time
- in the meantime
Essay transition word list for series and sequences
- first, second, third, etc.
Essay transition words FAQs
What are essay transition words?
In general, transition words and phrases bridge the gap between two topics whose connection isn’t obvious. Transition words and phrases like however, although, likewise, and on the contrary cue the reader that a change is coming so they know to expect it. Essay transition words have the same function in essays.
When should you use essay transition words?
Use essay transition words and phrases to either contain two opposing topics in the same sentence or join together the opposing sentences or paragraphs that come before and after them. Essay transition words aren’t necessary for every sentence; you need them only when a shift in topic is so pronounced that it interrupts the writing flow.
What are some essay transition words examples?
Some of the most common essay transition words examples include however, although, ultimately, in summary, next, last, also, in general, for that reason, as a result, for example, in the meantime, therefore, similarly, and likewise.