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Transitions

Your escape from awkward pauses and illogical skips, transitions play a vital but understated role in essays, stories, and all other forms of media and argumentation. Transition words are like guideposts, right down to the fact they need to be designed and positioned. The better designed and positioned a transition is, the more effective it is as a guide.

Definition of a Transition

A transition is any device that bridges two ideas. In written media and spoken discourses, these devices are words or phrases. They come between sentences and paragraphs. In visual media, these devices are cuts or edits. This article focuses on written media, especially essays, but also stories you might write or analyze.

Transition Words

The simplest transitions are single words.

We will begin by discussing cats. Then, we will continue by discussing dogs.

In this example, the word “then” is the only word needed to bridge the ideas. Here is an example where the transition word uses a phrase in order to bridge the ideas:

Although cats have been domesticated for thousands of years, cats still have a way of acting like wild animals.

"Although" is the transition word, which indicates a change in ideas. “Cats have been domesticated for thousands of years” contextualizes the transition. Because of this transitional phrase, the reader understands that what makes cats’ feral behavior remarkable is that they have been domesticated for such a long time.

Transition words can be divided into eight categories. The categories are transition words that indicate time, indicate place, explain, compare and contrast, emphasize, add information, indicate a result, or summarize. Each category represents a way in which transitions bridge ideas.

Transitions Words that Indicate Time

These are time words or phrases, such as: first, meanwhile, next, and often. Transition words that indicate time create order. This type of transition indicates the temporal relationship between ideas and things.

There are cyborgs everywhere. Often, you will meet a cyborg and not even know it.

Transition Words that Indicate Place

These are words or phrases such as: below, next to, opposite, and through. Transition words that indicate place create space. This type of transition indicates the spatial relationship between ideas and things.

You will find real snacks at the store. Here, in this essay, you will find why snacks should all be cheddar-flavored.

Transition Words that Explain

These are words or phrases such as: for example, for instance, in fact, specifically, and so on. Transition words that explain provide clarification. This type of transition indicates the direct relationship between ideas and things.

Board games are more viable than ever. For one thing, more were sold last year than in any of the prior fifteen.

Transition Words that Compare and Contrast

These are words or phrases such as: however, nevertheless, likewise, and in the same way. Transition words that compare and contrast create groups. This type of transition indicates how ideas and things of a group relate in similar or different ways.

Scheffleras make for good houseplants. Similarly, croton plants are great for your house.

Transitions, Compare and contrast transitions, croton houseplant, StudySmarterFig. 1 - Compare and contrast transitions are essential to your growth as a writer.

Transition Words that Emphasize

These are words or phrases such as: above all, critically, especially, and most importantly. Transition words that emphasize create tiers. This type of transition indicates how ideas and things relate in a hierarchy.

e9000 GPUs are great for gaming. Indeed, they are the best on the market for building your own rig.

Transition Words that Add Information

These are words or phrases such as: additionally, as well as, furthermore, and moreover. Transition words that add create more. This type of transition indicates how ideas and things relate in broadening terms.

Waste receptacles can hold trash. Besides that, they can hold recyclables and even compost.

Transition Words that Indicate a Result

There are words or phrases such as: as a result, consequently, for that reason, and therefore. Transition words that indicate a result create conclusions. This type of transition indicates the logical relationship between things and ideas. This can include causal relationships: in other words, cause and effect.

Betty got a raise. As such, she now makes more than me.

"Betty got a raise" is the cause. "She now makes more than me" is the effect (the result).

Transition Words that Summarize

These are words or phrases such as: again, in conclusion, to summarize, and on the whole. Transition words that summarize create perspective. This type of transition relates things and ideas to a broader reality.

In the end, it is less about what the author intended by their words, and more about the thousands of people who turned those words into a movement.

Transition Examples in an Essay

The following examples explain how to use transitions in the different sections of your essay.

Transitions After the Introduction

The introduction of your essay will contain a hook, your thesis statement, and an outline of where you are going. Once that is said, though, how do you transition into your body paragraphs? You can either end your introduction with an indication of what is happening next, and include your transition there, or you can end with a strong idea and begin the next paragraph with a transition word. Transition words can be in either paragraph.

To avoid stilted or rough transitions, don't draw too much attention to them. If you find that your transition is dragging on longer than a sentence or so, consider a different transition.

Using Transitions that Explain

You can reference something vague in your introduction and begin to explain it.

There are multiple ways to address this issue. For example, there is the matter of groundwater control at the local level.

Using Transitions that Compare and Contrast

You can contrast the issues raised in the introduction with the solutions.

This task might seem too daunting to approach. However, a place to begin is the matter of groundwater control at the local level.

Using Transitions that Emphasize

You can emphasize an important contention that is also a good starting point.

Most importantly when it comes to solving this issue, there is the matter of groundwater control at the local level.

Transitions Between Paragraphs

Once you’ve wrapped up one of your paragraphs, which should contain a strong point, how do you move on to another good point? First, consider the kind of point you are going to make next, and how it relates to your prior point. Then, place the transition where it feels best. This is a matter of style and something you will perfect with time.

Here are a few tips, though. End your body paragraphs with a transition if you feel the idea of the paragraph is not yet complete, and needs a little more. On the other hand, begin your next body paragraph with a transition if you feel the evidence in that paragraph needs extra context. Finally, and most importantly, you don't need to make every paragraph transition like the last. Transitions should not be copy and pasted. Vary them to engage your reader.

Again, it takes practice!

To keep your reader on track, refer back to important ideas and key words when writing a transition! Be careful of using pronouns that are unclear when you refer to previous ideas, and if you aren't sure, err on the side of using noun names.

Using Transitions that Explain

If your last point brought up some major questions, these transitions will help you to segue into an explanation.

When talking about the “indoor-outdoor problem,” specifically this refers to the relationship between cats, the house, and the outdoors, which is the next point.

Transitions Cat StudySmarterFig. 2 - Speaking of cats and transitions.

Using Transitions that Compare and Contrast

If your last point presented a very different angle or a very similar angle to your next point, this kind of transition solidifies that relationship to the reader.

Still, cats contend with medical issues if they are indoor-outdoor cats.

Using Transitions that Add Information

If you have more examples or points of logic that support your argument, you can use these transitions to reinforce your position.

Moreover, cats are not protected even when they spend some of their time indoors.

Using Transitions that Indicate a Result

If there is a next logical step in your progression, use one of these transitions to communicate that.

As a result, cats have problems whenever they go outdoors. This means that indoor-outdoor cats risk medical problems.

Transitions into the Conclusion

Finally, you will get to your conclusion. Remember, your conclusion should add to the essay and not merely recap your thesis. Plan your transitions accordingly!

Only use transition words when you need to. Extraneous "however"s look unprofessional. Your transitions should not be crutch words. They are there to facilitate, not to star. The content is in your ideas!

Using Transitions that Compare and Contrast

If you need to cover a caveat in order to cover your bases, these transitions are a go-to tool.

However, even these solutions may not solve all the problems that farmers face. Although beyond the scope of our immediate discussion, economic issues will need to be addressed and not merely climatological ones.

Using Transitions that Indicate a Result

If you have one final conclusion that brings everything full circle, transitions that indicate a result are a strong option.

The modern hardships that farmers endure are faced by many producers. Therefore, really, all these solutions are only one step in the right direction, when it comes to putting our growing society back on track.

Using Transitions that Summarize

If you have an illuminating new perspective on your core ideas, use transitions that summarize.

Of course, this is a global problem, not merely a problem for farmers. Comprehensive solutions will extend far beyond the scope of this paper.

Transitions, Transition examples, Conclusion transitions, Farm, StudySmarterFig. 3 - Transition words help to summarize the information for your conclusion.

Transitions in Stories

When analyzing a creative story, you will find transitions throughout the work. These transitions will bridge ideas, paragraphs, chapters, and even volumes.

Transitions in stories are usually not focused on the logic of an argument. Rather, transitions in stories focus on the logic between characters, objects, and scenery. Transitions are used to establish relationships between various scenes, whether those relationships are chronological, thematic, or narrative.

Transitions that indicate place are very common in stories. These transitions help to spatially arrange subjects and objects.

He dropped down beneath the counter. Opposite him under the kitchen table, Meg grimaced. She couldn’t believe this was happening, now of all times!

The obnoxious alien opened the box. Inside were a dozen chocolate candies that no doubt had magical properties.

Also, transitions that indicate time are very common in stories. These transitions help to order actions, especially.

Ataru mocked Shuutaro relentlessly. Then, as if a fuse blew in him, Shuutaro began to chase Ataru around the room.

She had been whittling the figure for hours. Before that, she had been cleaning the parlor for hours. There was still no sign of her child returning home.

In film, transitions are accomplished first through direction and camerawork. Although less critical now that editing film is so easy, these physical methods of transition remain an important way to guide viewers from one scene to the other. Film transitions are also accomplished in the editing room. No longer needing to splice real film together, a video editor will use digital tools to cut and arrange the scenes of a film. They might add camera effects to simulate camera transitions, such as the classic shutter transition. Films often have a dialogue element, too, however. This means that, in addition to visual transitions, characters might use some of our transition words to help the audience move between scenes. For instance, a character might say, “But, the party was a lot worse last year!” Cut to a humorous scene of last year’s Thanksgiving party.

Transitions - Key Takeaways

  • A transition is any device that bridges two ideas.
  • The eight types of transition words are transition words that indicate time, indicate place, indicate a result, or explain, compare and contrast, emphasize, add, and summarize.
  • Transitions can end or begin paragraphs. Vary your style and approach!
  • When transitioning into your conclusion, be sure you are segueing into pertinent information. Do not simply restate your thesis statement in your conclusion.
  • Transitions in stories are used to establish relationships between various scenes, whether those relationships are chronological, thematic, or narrative.

Frequently Asked Questions about Transitions

A transition is any device that bridges two ideas. In written media and spoken discourses, these devices are words or phrases. 

Transition words and phrases, such as "therefore" and "ultimately," bridge ideas between sentences and paragraphs. 

The eight types of transition words are transition words that indicate time, indicate place, indicate a resultexplain, compare and contrast, emphasize, add, and summarize

The purpose of transition words is to to bridge two ideas.

To make a smooth transition between paragraphs and avoid stilted or rough transitions, don't draw too much attention to them. If you find that your transition is dragging on longer than a sentence, consider a different transition. Additionally, use transitions only when you need to. When they are overused, they can stick out.

Final Transitions Quiz

Question

A transition is in any device that _____ two ideas.

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Answer

Bridges.

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Question

What are the most simple transitions?

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Answer

Single words.

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Question

Can a transition be a phrase?

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Answer

Yes.

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Question

Identify the transition in the following sentence:


"We will begin by herding cats. Then we will go to store for cheese."

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Answer

We will begin by herding cats. Then we will go to store for cheese.

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Question

Transition words that indicate _____ create order.

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Answer

Time

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Question

Transition words that indicate place indicate the direct relationship between ideas and things.

True or false?

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Answer

False. 

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Question

Transition words that explain _____.

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Answer

Create reasons.

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Question

Transition words that _____ create groups.

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Answer

Compare and contrast.

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Question

Transitions that emphasize indicate how ideas and things relate _____.

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Answer

In a hierarchy.

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Question

Transition words that add _____.

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Answer

Create more

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Question

Transition words that _____ create conclusions.

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Answer

Indicate a result.

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Question

Transition words that summarize relate things and ideas to a _____.

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Answer

Broader reality.

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Question

If you find that your transition is _____, consider a different transition. 


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Answer

Dragging on.

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Question

Is using a variety of transition words a good idea?

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Answer

Yes! But don't overuse the rarer ones. 

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Question

Should you rely on your transitions to get your point across in an essay?

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Answer

No, you should rely on your ideas. 

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Question

Which of the following is not something transition words can do?

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Answer

Indicate time.

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Question

What does the transition do in the following example?

The bridge is four hundred and fifty feet above the water. As such, it is tall enough for the boat to pass under.

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Answer

Indicate a result.

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Question

What does the transition do in the following example?


There are instructions for the spreadsheet in the email. Additionally, you can follow the guidelines on the website. 

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Answer

Indicate time. 

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Question

What does the transition do in the following example?


Again, the study was inconclusive.

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Answer

Summarize.

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Question

To avoid stilted or rough transitions, don't draw too much attention to them.


True or false?

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Answer

True.

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