How to understand and use transition words in English

How to understand and use transition words in English

by Adriana Stein

Updated June 15, 2023

What are transition words in English and why do they matter? As a former English teacher, I can confirm that they matter a whole lot! Plus, using them correctly is a clear indication of a higher level of English. So to give you a bit of help on how transition words work, take a look below!

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The purpose of transition words in English

Transition words are commonly used when speaking and writing in English for transitioning from one point to another. They help break up longer texts when writing, and help clarify the flow of a story when speaking. During the process of learning English, getting familiar with using both written and spoken transition words brings you closer to becoming fluent.

One a quick note about grammar, when we use transition words there is always a comma after them at the beginning of the sentence, or both before and afterwards when used in the middle of a sentence as in:

Therefore, I decided not to buy that dress.

I decidedtherefore, not to buy that dress.

Types of English transition words and when to use them

There are different types of transitions words you can use in various contexts. Here is an overview of some of the most common transition words and phrases, as well as examples for how to use them.

1. Additions and similarities

Transition word or phraseExample
in additionI love many types of vegetables. In addition, I also like bananas and strawberries.
furthermoreYou can use scissors for cutting and snipping. Furthermore, scissors are a common arts and crafts object.
moreoverTexting while driving is illegal. Moreover, it’s quite dangerous.
correspondinglyIt was raining today. Correspondingly, I decided not to go for a picnic.
additionallyHe needs to vacuum, do the dishes, and do his laundry. Additionally, he has a lot of homework to finish.
as a matter of factAs a matter of fact, I do like apples, even though I didn’t like that apple pie.
in light of + nounIn light of the previous results, we decided to cancel the experiment.
of courseOf course, going outside in winter means you need a good coat.
similarly to + nounAll my siblings love to read. Similarlywe are writers.
comparativelyComparatively, I used to love reading much more when I was a child.

2. Oppositions and contradictions

Transition word or phraseExample
in contrast to + nounIn contrast to my mother, I love animals.
on the one hand/on the other handOn the one hand, I love animals. On the other hand, I don’t like snakes.
be that as it mayIt’s not that cold outside. Be that as it may, I won’t go outside in the winter without a coat.
even soI love dogs. Even so, sometimes I am afraid of them.
howeverThey need to do their homework. However, they need to wash the dishes first.
at the same timeI love my cat. At the same time, sometimes he annoys me, because he chews on my shoes.
althoughWe should go home. Although, we could stay another hour.
converselyHe needed to go home. Conversely, he stayed and missed his curfew.
neverthelessYou love the summer. Nevertheless, you still get too hot without air conditioning.

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3. Causes and purposes

Transition word or phraseExample
with this in mindThe ocean is full of sharks. With this in mind, I will never go diving.
unless + causeUnless you wear a coat, you shouldn’t go outside.
provided that + causeProvided that you wear a coat, you can go outside.
in view of + nounIn view of the cold weather, I decided to stay inside.
in the event that + nounIn the event that something bad happens, please call me.
to that endHe had a bad experience with swimming. To that end, he never went swimming again.
if (conditional tenses)If you don’t go shopping, you can’t cook dinner.
whenever + causeWhenever I eat too much chocolate, I feel sick.

4. Examples and support

Transition word or phraseExample
for exampleI love to cook. For example, my favorite thing to make is soup.
for this reasonIt was too hot outside. For this reason, I decided to sit by the fan instead.
indeedIndeedwearing a coat when you go outside in the winter is a good idea.
certainlyCertainly, those who learn to cook will eat better food.
to emphasiseTo emphasise, I love cooking more than anyone!
in factHe went to school from 1994-2000. In fact, he even graduated at the top of his class.
in generalIn general, going to bed early is a good idea if you also need to wake up early.
to clarifyTo clarify, what I meant by my statement earlier is that I actually have the opposite opinion.

5. Consequences and results

Transition word or phraseExample
as a result + nounAs a result of the volcano eruption, Pompeii was destroyed.
in that caseIt’s a sunny day today. In that case, I’ll go to the park.
thereforeI have already mentioned that before. Therefore, I won’t repeat myself.
thusThe money conversion rate was good today. Thus, she exchanged a lot of money.
in effectIn effect, that was a good idea, even though my friend had warned me otherwise.
due to + nounDue to the rain, the event was cancelled.

6. Conclusions and summaries

Transition word or phraseExample
generally speakingGenerally speaking, it’s good to rest when you have a cold.
in conclusionIn conclusion, my essay discusses the different viewpoints on the current political situation.
given these pointsGiven these points, I will need to reconsider my opinion.
in briefToday, she went shopping, worked, and prepared dinner. In brief, it was a very busy day.
as can be seen from + placeAs can be seen from the presentation, my opinion on the election is clear.
all things consideredIt rained a lot today. All things considered, it was still a good day.

Once you start using some of these English transition words and phrases, you’ll take your speaking level to advanced in no time!

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