Smart Words of the English Language

Transition Words and Phrases

This structured list of commonly used English transition words — approximately 200, can be considered as quasi complete. It can be used (by students and teachers alike) to find the right expression. English transition words are essential, since they not only connect ideas, but also can introduce a certain shift, contrast or opposition, emphasis or agreement, purpose, result or conclusion, etc. in the line of argument.
The transition words and phrases have been assigned only once to somewhat artificial categories, although some words belong to more than one category.

There is some overlapping with preposition and postposition, but for the purpose of clarity and completeness of this concise guide, I did not differentiate.

Agreement / Addition / Similarity

The transition words like also, in addition, and, likewise, add information, reinforce ideas, and express agreement with preceding material.

 

in the first place

not only ... but also

as a matter of fact

in like manner

in addition

coupled with

in the same fashion / way

first, second, third

in the light of

not to mention

to say nothing of

equally important

by the same token

again

to

and

also

then

equally

identically

uniquely

like

as

too

moreover

as well as

together with

of course

likewise

comparatively

correspondingly

similarly

furthermore

additionally

 

 

Opposition / Limitation / Contradiction

Transition phrases like but, rather and or, express that there is evidence to the contrary or point out alternatives, and thus introduce a change the line of reasoning (contrast).

 

although this may be true

in contrast

different from

of course ..., but

on the other hand

on the contrary

at the same time

in spite of

even so / though

be that as it may

then again

above all

in reality

after all

but

(and) still

unlike

or

(and) yet

while

albeit

besides

as much as

even though

although

instead

whereas

despite

conversely

otherwise

however

rather

nevertheless

nonetheless

regardless

notwithstanding

 

 

Cause / Condition / Purpose

These transitional phrases present specific conditions or intentions.

 

in the event that

granted (that)

as / so long as

on (the) condition (that)

for the purpose of

with this intention

with this in mind

in the hope that

to the end that

for fear that

in order to

seeing / being that

in view of

If

... then

unless

 

when

whenever

while

 

because of

as

since

while

lest

in case

provided that

given that

only / even if

so that

so as to

owing to

inasmuch as

due to

 

Examples / Support / Emphasis

These transitional devices (like especially) are used to introduce examples as support, to indicate importance or as an illustration so that an idea is cued to the reader.

 

in other words

to put it differently

for one thing

as an illustration

in this case

for this reason

to put it another way

that is to say

with attention to

by all means

 

 

important to realize

another key point

first thing to remember

most compelling evidence

must be remembered

point often overlooked

to point out

on the positive / negative side

with this in mind

notably

including

like

to be sure

namely

chiefly

truly

indeed

certainly

surely

markedly

 

especially

specifically

expressively

surprisingly

frequently

significantly

in fact

in general

in particular

in detail

for example

for instance

to demonstrate

to emphasize

to repeat

to clarify

to explain

to enumerate

such as

 

 

Effect / Consequence / Result

Some of these transition words (thus, then, accordingly, consequently, therefore, henceforth) are time words that are used to show that after a particular time there was a consequence or an effect.

Note that for and because are placed before the cause/reason. The other devices are placed before the consequences or effects.

 

as a result

under those circumstances

in that case

for this reason

in effect

for

thus

because the

then

hence

consequently

therefore

thereupon

forthwith

accordingly

henceforth

 

 

Conclusion / Summary / Restatement

These transition words and phrases conclude, summarize and / or restate ideas, or indicate a final general statement. Also some words (like therefore) from the Effect / Consequence category can be used to summarize.

 

as can be seen

generally speaking

in the final analysis

all things considered

as shown above

in the long run

given these points

as has been noted

in a word

for the most part

after all

in fact

in summary

in conclusion

in short

in brief

in essence

to summarize

on balance

altogether

overall

ordinarily

usually

by and large

to sum up

on the whole

in any event

in either case

all in all

 

Obviously

Ultimately

Definitely

 

Time / Chronology / Sequence

These transitional words (like finally) have the function of limiting, restricting, and defining time. They can be used either alone or as part of adverbial expressions.

 

at the present time

from time to time

sooner or later

at the same time

up to the present time

to begin with

in due time

as soon as

as long as

in the meantime

in a moment

without delay

in the first place

all of a sudden

at this instant

first, second

 

immediately

quickly

finally

after

later

last

until

till

since

then

before

hence

since

when

once

about

next

now

 

 

formerly

suddenly

shortly

henceforth

whenever

eventually

meanwhile

further

during

in time

prior to

forthwith

straightaway

 

by the time

whenever

 

until now

now that

 

instantly

presently

occasionally

 

 

Many transition words in the time category (consequently; first, second, third; further; hence; henceforth; since; then, when; and whenever) have other uses.

Except for the numbers (first, second, third) and further they add a meaning of time in expressing conditions, qualifications, or reasons. The numbers are also used to add information or list examples. Further is also used to indicate added space as well as added time.

 

Space / Location / Place

These transition words are often used as part of adverbial expressions and have the function to restrict, limit or qualify space. Quite a few of these are also found in the Time category and can be used to describe spatial order or spatial reference.

 

in the middle

to the left/right

in front of

on this side

in the distance

here and there

in the foreground

in the background

in the center of

 

adjacent to

opposite to 

here

there

next

where

from

over

near

above

below

down

up

under

further

beyond

nearby

wherever

around

between

before

alongside

amid

among

beneath

beside

behind

across

 


 

List of Transition Words

Transition Words & Phrases

Transition Words are also sometimes called (or put in the category of) Connecting Words. Please feel free to download them via this link to the category page:
Linking Words & Connecting Words as a PDF.

It contains all the transition words listed on this site. The image to the left gives you an impression how it looks like.

 

 

Usage of Transition Words in Essays

Transition words and phrases are vital devices for essays, papers or other literary compositions. They improve the connections and transitions between sentences and paragraphs. They thus give the text a logical organization and structure (see also: a List of Synonyms).

All English transition words and phrases (sometimes also called 'conjunctive adverbs') do the same work as coordinating conjunctions: they connect two words, phrases or clauses together and thus the text is easier to read and the coherence is improved.


Usage: transition words are used with a special rule for punctuation: a semicolon or a period is used after the first 'sentence', and a comma is almost always used to set off the transition word from the second 'sentence'.

Example 1:
People use 43 muscles when they frown; however, they use only 28 muscles when they smile.

 

Example 2:
However, transition words can also be placed at the beginning of a new paragraph or sentence - not only to indicate a step forward in the reasoning, but also to relate the new material to the preceding thoughts.

Use a semicolon to connect sentences, only if the group of words on either side of the semicolon is a complete sentence each (both must have a subject and a verb, and could thus stand alone as a complete thought).

 

 


 

Further helpful readings about expressions, writing and grammar: Compilation of Writing Tips How to write good   ¦   List of their hidden meanings Scientific Phrases   ¦   Correct Spelling Study by an English University

 


 

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