APPENDICES: Academic Writing Basics

Appendix D: Transitional Words and Phrases for University Writing

In previous English classes, you may have learned the basic transitional words or phrases in Table D.1. These can be effective when writing simple information in a structure where you simply add one idea after another, or want to show the order of events.

TABLE D.1 Basic beginner-level transitions
first

second

third

last

moreover

firstly

secondly

thirdly

last but not least,

furthermore

first of all

next

then

finally

besides

However, more complex university-level writing requires more sophisticated transitions. It requires you to connect ideas in ways that show the logic of why one idea comes after another in a complex argument or analysis. For example, you might be comparing/contrasting ideas, or showing a cause and effect relationship, providing detailed examples to illustrate an idea, or presenting a conclusion to an argument. When expressing these complex ideas, the simple transitions you’ve learned earlier will not always be effective – indeed, they may even confuse the reader.

Consider the transitions in Table D.2, and how they are categorized. While this is not an exhaustive list, it will gives you a sense of the many transitional words and phrases that you can choose from, and demonstrate the need to choose the one that most effectively conveys your meaning.

TABLE D.2 Sophisticated university-level transitions
Addition Comparison Contrast Cause and Effect
also

and

in addition

in fact

indeed

so too

as well as

furthermore

moreover

along the same lines

in the same way

similarly

likewise

like

although

but

in contrast

conversely

despite

even though

however

nevertheless

whereas

yet

while

on the other hand

accordingly

as a result

consequently

hence

it follows, then

since

so

then

therefore

thus

Conclusion Example Concession Elaboration
as a result

consequently

hence

in conclusion

in short

in sum

it follow, then

so

therefore

thus

as an illustration

consider

for example

for instance

specifically

a case in point

admittedly

granted

of course

naturally

to be sure

conceding that

although it is true that…

by extension

in short

that is to say

in other words

to put it another way

to put it bluntly

to put it succinctly

ultimately

Transitional words and phrases show the connection between ideas, and show how one idea relates to and builds upon another. They help create coherence. When transitions are missing or inappropriate, the reader has a hard time following the logic and development of ideas. The most effective transitions are sometimes invisible; they rely on the vocabulary and logic of your sentence to allow the reader to “connect the dots” and see the logical flow of your discussion.

Common Transitional Strategies to Link Ideas
  • Repeat a word or phrase from the previous sentence (or use a synonym, related word, or antonym) to show that the same idea is still being discussed, but is being developed further
  • Use the pronoun “this + noun” to show continued discussion of the idea
  • Use one of the above transitional words or phrases to show HOW you are developing your idea (are you showing contrast? Are you using an example to develop your idea? Are you showing a cause and effect relationship? Are you concluding? Are you conceding a point?).

Transition Exercises:  Place the transitional words below the paragraph into the blanks where they work most logically into the paragraphs.

Exercise 1

A vegan can be defined as someone who does not eat meat, fish, or other animal products, such as eggs or cheese; ________, he or she eats vegetables, fruits, grains, and seeds.  __________ this diet consists of non-meat food sources, a vegan typically consumes less fat and cholesterol than an individual who consumes meat.   __________, raising animals for food uses valuable land, water, and energy.    __________, adopting a vegetarian diet helps conserve the valuable resources that our future depends on.

  • Consequently
  • Because
  • Furthermore
  • Instead
  • For example

Exercise 2

__________ many educators and parents have praised the Harry Potter series, some Christian parents have called for a ban on the books in their schools and libraries.    Some churches have even gone as far as burning the books, citing biblical injunctions against witchcraft, __________ those in Exodus and Leviticus.    __________, some Christians believe the books are compatible with Christianity, __________, that they embody basic Christian beliefs.

  • However
  • Although
  • In addition
  • Such as
  • Indeed

 

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Technical Writing Essentials by Suzan Last is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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