10 Types of Transitions

By Mark Nichol

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Writing is simply a matter of expressing ideas, but as we all know, it’s not so simple after all. One challenge is to coherently connect those ideas. This post lists ten categories of words and phrases one can employ to signal a transition, with several examples for each type.

These words and phrases can be used within a sentence as well as at the beginning. Note, too, that many can apply to more than one category. (These groupings are arbitrary, created for the sake of presentation; transitional terms can be organized in various ways.)

1. Addition
“Also, I have to stop at the store on the way home.”

“Besides, it would give me great satisfaction to help you.”

“First, I’d like to thank you for inviting me to speak tonight.”

2. Comparison
“In the same way, the author foreshadows a conflict between two minor characters.”

“Likewise, the sequel was very successful.”

“Similarly, we observed no differences in response rate.”

3. Concession
“Granted, you did not ask ahead of time.”

“Naturally, the final decision is up to her.”

“Of course, he will want to examine the documents himself.”

4. Contrast
“At the same time, what she said has some truth to it.”

“However, I don’t see what that has to do with anything.”

“Otherwise, how can they expect us to comply?”

5. Consequence
“Accordingly, I have consulted with him for a second opinion.”

“As a result, I’m not sure what to do.”

“For this reason, we have decided to halt the project.”

6. Emphasis
“Above all, we must exercise discretion.”

“Certainly, he’ll find out for himself in time.”

“In fact, they’re on their way right now.”

7. Example
“For example, he could have asked for advice first.”

“In particular, I draw your attention to the stain on the carpet.”

“Namely, consider the consequences of your decision.”

8. Sequence
“Earlier, you had mentioned a report.”

“Eventually, we’ll see some improvement.”

“Meanwhile, I’ve been waiting for you.”

9. Space
“Below, you’ll find instructions for assembling the shelf.”

“In the distance, he could see the approaching figure.”

“Off to one side, a package wrapped in plain paper caught her attention.”

10. Summary
“In conclusion, I see no reason to delay any longer.”

“In other words, they’re incompetent.”

“Therefore, your decision leaves me no choice.”

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4 Responses to “10 Types of Transitions”

  • dragonwielder

    Gee, would’ve been nice to have something like this when learning to write essays in high school!

    Thanks, Mark–great post!

  • thebluebird11

    What a nice post! A little breath of fresh air at the end of my long day (night). Now I have been reminded of options to sprinkle in conversation and writing and keep them fresh. Ahhh!

  • Veritas

    This is appalling advice. Guaranteed to make your writing turn readers off.


    Absolutely clueless advice from a naive and inexperienced writer. In almost every example the writing would be improved by deleting the example suggestions.

  • Mark Nichol

    In vino, Veritas? In truth, I’m taken aback by the vehemence of your rigid pedantry, and the dearth of tact and diplomacy in your comments. In vain, perhaps, I encourage you to be more receptive to opinions at odds with your own and more respectful in your critiques.

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