We should probably start by asking ourselves what are transition words and what value do they add to an essay? You need to connect ideas in your essay to improve readability. If your points are isolated and unrelated, then reading becomes difficult and boring.
As a matter of fact, most software that check for readability of texts look for correct usage of transition words. Some people recommend that you can add transition words when you are revising the paper. However, you have to get a good flow from the beginning. This means that you should be adding these words as you write. Transition words are very many. Using them might be confusing and that is where this article breaks them down into 4 major types depending on how and where you can use them.
These are the kind of words that you will want to use when writing about a list of points in prose. The words in this category are:
- Firstly, secondly, thirdly
- To begin with, initially, to start with, finally
- Subsequently, afterwards, previously
The list is by no means endless. However, what you should know about words in this category is that they help you in introducing sentences of paragraphs that follow a sequence in prose. Using lists or numbers in an essay might be inappropriate and appear untidy. However, you might need to introduce related points and demonstrate that they are related. For instance, you want to write down three factors that lead to global warming. You might use "to begin with" for the first point, "secondly" for the second point, and "finally" for the third point. This will not only make it easy to read, but show the reader that the points are related.
Casual transition words show the relationship between sentences and paragraphs, where the proceeding point emerges as a cause or effect of the previous. Some words in this category are:
- Consequently, as a result, due to the fact that
- Therefore, thus, otherwise
- For, since, unless
You can easily identify casual transition words by looking at the relationship they create between two sentences or paragraphs. For instance, you can have two independent sentences like: I was later for school. I was punished by the head teacher. You can improve readability by showing that the second action was as a result of the first. Your sentence can look something like this: "Due to the fact that I was late for school, I was punished by the head teacher. When using casual transitions, you should always be keen on establishing the nature of relationship between sentences and paragraphs.
These are the kind of transitions you use when you want to show that the current point is an addition to the previous. You should not confuse additive with sequential. In the case of additive, the current point is only directly related to the previous. However, in case of sequential there is a relationship between all the points mentioned in the sequence. Examples of additive transitions are:
- In addition to, furthermore, similarly, likewise
- In other words, to illustrate, for instance
You can use these words to explain in detail the previous point. They can be used to avoid run on sentences where the reader is forced to read a long sentence without a pause. For instance, let us consider the following sentences:
- Technology has made life easier through the introduction of gadgets such as smart phones and technology has also promoted peace
- Technology has made life easier through the introduction of gadgets such as smartphone. Furthermore, it has also promoted peace.
The first sentence is a perfect example of a run on sentence. The readability is poor and it could be confusing. However, you can create a relationship between the two ideas by introducing an additive transition. This makes it easy for the reader to notice the connection.
These transitions accomplish the task opposite to additive transitions. Instead of adding, they show conflict between ideas. Examples in this category are:
- Regardless, nonetheless, however
- Otherwise, regardless, on the other hand
The words in this category are mostly used when writing an analysis or argumentative essay. This is because you will mostly find that explaining opposing views will provide a better analysis or argument. You can also use these transitions to provide alternative, not necessarily opposing, views. The list of transition words is long because there are many examples. You will hear most students asking for examples of transition words. However, it is important to understand the different types and how they are used first. Once you are conversant with the types, you will only need to look at an example within a sentence to be able to use the same in an essay. When it comes to transition words, you will definitely need to improve on your reading habits. With time they will sink in and you will find using them easy.