Transitional Words and Phrases

One of your primary goals as a writer is to present ideas in a clear and understandable way. To help readers move through your complex ideas, you want to be intentional about how you structure your paper as a whole as well as how you form the individual paragraphs that comprise it. In order to think through the challenges of presenting your ideas articulately, logically, and in ways that seem natural to your readers, check out some of these resources: Developing a Thesis Statement, Paragraphing, and Developing Strategic Transitions: Writing that Establishes Relationships and Connections Between Ideas.

While clear writing is mostly achieved through the deliberate sequencing of your ideas across your entire paper, you can guide readers through the connections you’re making by using transitional words in individual sentences. Transitional words and phrases can create powerful links between your ideas and can help your reader understand your paper’s logic.

In what follows, we’ve included a list of frequently used transitional words and phrases that can help you establish how your various ideas relate to each other. We’ve divided these words and phrases into categories based on the common kinds of relationships writers establish between ideas.

Two recommendations:
Use these transitions strategically by making sure that the word or phrase you’re choosing matches the logic of the relationship you’re emphasizing or the connection you’re making. All of these words and phrases have different meanings, nuances, and connotations, so before using a particular transitional word in your paper, be sure you understand its meaning and usage completely, and be sure that it’s the right match for your paper’s logic.
Use these transitional words and phrases sparingly because if you use too many of them, your readers might feel like you are overexplaining connections that are already clear.


Transitions to help establish some of the most common kinds of relationships

Causation–Connecting instigator(s) to consequence(s).

accordingly
as a result
and so
because

consequently
for that reason
hence
on account of

since
therefore
thus

Chronology–Connecting what issues in regard to when they occur.

after
afterwards
always
at length
during
earlier
following
immediately
in the meantime

later
never
next
now
once
simultaneously
so far
sometimes

soon
subsequently
then
this time
until now
when
whenever
while

Combinations
Lists–
Connecting numerous events.
Part/Whole–
Connecting numerous elements that make up something bigger.

additionally
again
also
and, or, not
as a result
besides
even more

finally
first, firstly
further
furthermore
in addition
in the first place
in the second place

last, lastly
moreover
next
second, secondly, etc.
too

Contrast–Connecting two things by focusing on their differences.

after all
although
and yet
at the same time
but

however
in contrast
nevertheless
nonetheless
notwithstanding

on the contrary
on the other hand
otherwise
though
yet

Example–Connecting a general idea to a particular instance of this idea.

as an illustration
e.g., (from a Latin abbreviation for “for example”)

for example
for instance
specifically
that is

to demonstrate
to illustrate

Importance–Connecting what is critical to what is more inconsequential.

chiefly
critically

foundationally
most importantly

of less importance
primarily

Location–Connecting elements according to where they are placed in relationship to each other.

above
adjacent to
below
beyond

centrally
here
nearby
neighboring on

opposite to
peripherally
there
wherever

Similarity–Connecting to things by suggesting that they are in some way alike.

by the same token
in like manner

in similar fashion
here
in the same way

likewise
wherever

Other kinds of transitional words and phrases
Clarification

i.e., (from a Latin abbreviation for “that is”)
in other words

that is
that is to say
to clarify
to explain

to put it another way
to rephrase it

Concession

granted
it is true

naturally
of course

to be sure

Conclusion

finally
lastly

in conclusion
in the end

to conclude

Intensification

in fact
indeed
no

of course
surely
to repeat

undoubtedly
without doubt
yes

Purpose

for this purpose
in order that

so that
to that end

to this end

Summary

in brief
in sum

in summary
in short

to sum up
to summarize