I. What are Transitions?
Transitions are words or phrases that tell readers that a new thought, paragraph, or section is coming. They are key ingredients that keep writing clear and organized. Without transitions, writing can be disorganized and confusing.
In paragraphs, transitions move readers from idea to another. In essays and reports, transitions move the reader from one paragraph to another, while other transitions move us from one section to another in the paper. Transitions are like road signs, showing the way to go. They’re also referred to as bridges; connecting ideas.
II. Examples of Transitions
Basic transitions that we learn when first writing are words such as first, second, finally, for example, however, although. These are used within paragraphs to organize thoughts. They move sentences in an organized manner.
The next set of transitions we usually learn are transition sentences. These connect paragraphs. An example would be the following paragraphs. The last sentence in the first paragraph uses the word “goal” to connect the paragraphs; this word is used again in the first sentence of the second paragraph. Combined with “then,” this sentence is the transition sentence, connecting the two paragraphs.
First of all, you need to think about your ultimate goal. Do you want to go into a professional job, or are you interested in academics/research? For most professional careers, a master’s would be sufficient. For those whose goals are in academics and research, you’ll want to go on to the PhD.
Then, you need to figure out which school would best help you reach your goal. Get on the web and check out schools in areas you would like to go – if you are looking for help with tuition, also check for schools with graduate assistantships (teaching or research).
III. Types of Transitions
There are three main types of transitions depending on the circumstance. A few examples are listed with each.
a. Transition words
These words connect ideas and thoughts. Generally, they’re used to help make paragraphs flow.
- Causal – Consequently, Being that, Providing that, As a result of
- Additive – Indeed, Such as, Furthermore, Furthermore
- Sequential – Initially, Subsequently, Secondly, As a final point
- Adversative – However, Nevertheless, Either way, Despite this,
b. Transition sentences
These sentences or phrases will connect one paragraph to another. It’s important to make sure your reader can follow your ideas, so using a repeating phrase from the previous sentence or restating the basic ideas of the paragraph will show how the paragraphs are related.
- …This is why using a can of air to clean your keyboard is the safest way to get all the debris out from under the keys.
Once you have the keyboard cleaned of all debris, then you can start working on the monitor.
c. Transition paragraphs
Transition paragraphs are when you have a large report with many sections. The reader has to process a lot of information throughout the work, so may get confused. Transition paragraphs would be in between sections, leaving the reader with the most information restated, somewhat like a summary paragraph, except that as it reviews information already stated, it will also preview new information coming up.
IV. The Importance of Transitions
Have you ever had a friend who talked quickly, jumping from one topic to the next? The conversation was probably confusing and tough to follow. This is what writing is like without transitions. It’s difficult to follow the ideas and important points if there are no transitions to connect them.
Transitions are extremely important. Without clues that a new thought or idea is ahead, articles, essays, and reports would be hard to understand. They guide the reader through the steps of the written piece, leading through the ideas. For instance, transitions help make the leap from one thought to another, showing how they are connected.
V. How to Use Transitions
When students are told to put transitions in their papers, they’re often confused and unsure what to do, but it’s not very difficult to use transitions. To see where transitions should go, it might help to start with an outline or web organizer. Organizing your information into groups will let you identify where you should use transitions.
As you put ideas together into paragraphs, you start with the main idea. The supporting details that prove the main idea need to be separated somehow, so that readers know when the writer is moving on to a new detail. These supporting details will have a transition to indicate they are a new concept. The examples that illustrate the supporting details also need transitions to guide the reader. The paragraph below breaks down how to use transitions within a paragraph.
Writing requires organization based on the purpose of the paper you are writing. First, you need to figure out your audience – who will be reading your paper. For example, maybe you want to reach people who smoke. Second, once you know your audience, then you need to decide how to organize your ideas, such as cause and effect or problem and solution. For instance, you need to think about which tactic would be best to get your point across. Finally, once you start writing, figure out what transitions will work best. To be specific, you need to make sure you use transitions that fit the purpose for a cause and effect relationship or problem and solution.
To transition from one paragraph to another, the concluding idea of one can lead to the main idea of the next, or the main idea can refer back to the concluding sentence of the previous paragraph. This sentence is referred to as the transition sentence.
VI. When to Use Transitions
Transitions should be used any time ideas are beginning, changing, advancing, or ending, or if the information needs a more clear connection. They should always be used to help the reader understand how two or more ideas are related.
Transitions should always be used in any kind of academic writing, such as research papers, essays, and reports. Most business letters and writing also need good transitions to ensure information and ideas are being presented clearly. Narrative essays, plays, poems, books, and short stories, etc., may not use transitions in a clear manner, since they are telling a story. The plot events and dialogue will move the story more than the explicit use of transitions.
VII. Examples of Transitions in Pop Culture
One of the newest phenomenon in today’s pop culture is YouTube. You can find videos of your favorite songs (even really really old ones!), movie clips, and videos of normal people posting images from their normal life. Teachers have taken to YouTube to help students learn more about their topic, such as this teacher who made his own rap song about transitions as a parody of Kesha’s song “Tik Tok.”
Songs are like stories, so don’t use a lot of explicit transitions, but the use of a chorus (those words that are repeated throughout the song) act as transition paragraphs to connect verses. This song “Seasons” by Future Islands has a couple transitions: “As it breaks” leads us into summer’s arrival, while the use of “but” transitions into the opposite season, winter.
VIII. Examples of Transitions in Literature
Jane Austen’s books have become popular in the last couple decades, with most of them having been made into movies. “Pride and Prejudice,” which she wrote in 1813, was made into a movie starring Kiera Knightly. People of all ages enjoyed this look at historical romance. Austen uses transitions in her books to help move the story along, just as any writer needs.
With a book he was regardless of time; and on the present occasion he had a good deal of curiosity as to the event of an evening which had raised such splendid expectations. He had rather hoped that his wife’s views on the stranger would be disappointed; but he soon found out that he had a different story to hear.
Oh! My dear Mr. Bennet,” as she entered the room, “we have had a most delightful evening, a most excellent ball. I wish you had been there. Jane was so admired, nothing could be like it. Everybody said how well she looked; and Mr. Bingley thought her quite beautiful, and danced with her twice!” (Chapter 3).
The use of “soon found out” and a “different story to hear” alert the reader that the next paragraph will change direction to information about the ball. The fact that he hoped she would be disappointed is contrasted with “most delightful evening” and reminds us of his thoughts. The words “as she entered” lets us know that she has just returned. These words are all part of transition sentences, guiding the reader from one scene to another in the story.
IX. Related Terms
Conjunctions are a type of speech that connect words, sentences, clauses, or phrases to other parts of the sentence. They are also called joiners. Common conjunctions are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.
A bridge is used to connect two roadways. Without a bridge, cars and people may be lost in the river. Just as a bridge connects the roads to keep traffic going, transitions connect ideas and concepts to keep the reader on “the road” as they make their way through articles and other written materials. We also use the term in writing sometimes, when we talk about creating a bridge between ideas.
Transitions are helpful and important in good writing. Students get frustrated when teachers write, “Needs transitions,” but with a little review and thought, they can easily be learned. Remember that just as bridges connect roadways, transitions connect thoughts and ideas.