Connect Ideas
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In this lesson, you’ll learn how to use transition words and phrases to smoothly connect ideas in your writing.

Transitions can help us express ideas in a smooth, logical, and clear way. Let’s learn how to use transitions!

Purpose of Transitions

Transitions are useful words and phrases that writers use to move from one idea to the next. They are used between paragraphs, between sentences, and within sentences. The word transition actually means move or change.

Let’s look at the following passage. Notice the transitions in bold letters:

I arrived early to our restaurant to assess the damage from the storm. First, I noticed that the electricity was not working. Next, I found water on the floor and saw many leaks in the ceiling. Finally, I saw that all of the windows were broken.

In the passage above, the writer explains the problems he saw at the restaurant in the order that he saw them-- by using the transition words first, next, and finally. The transition words move the reader smoothly and logically from one idea to the next idea.

Notice in the example that a comma was placed after each transition word. In most cases, you should place a comma after a transition.

As you can see, transitions are useful! Now let’s look at the many ways transitions help in our writing.

Sequence Events with Transitions

Transitions can help us explain the order in which events happened. The example passage in the first section of this lesson demonstrated sequencing events by using the transitions first, next, and finally.

Let’s look at another example. The transitions are in bold:

Yesterday, we launched our website. After just one day, we have over two hundred customer visits!

The passage uses two transition words to explain the order of events: first, the website was launched and then their website had several visits!

The following words and phrases can be used as sequencing transitions:

Transitions for Sequencing Events

After a while











Next Week









Until now



As soon as

Add Ideas with Transitions

Transitions are very useful when you want to add more information to your writing.

Let’s look at the following example. The transitions are bolded: are bolded:

Please research the best way to reach our older customers. Also, find out the age of our oldest customer. And finally, send out a short memo about what you learn.

The writer of this passage requested one task, and then used two transitions (also and finally) to add two more tasks.

These words and phrases can be used as transitions for adding ideas:

Transitions for Adding Ideas







In addition





In fact

Contrast Ideas with Transitions

If you want to contrast two or more ideas, use contrasting transitions.

Let’s look at the following example. The transition is bolded:

We made less money last year. However, we gained two excellent employees and built a new facility.

This writer of this passage expresses an idea that may be negative and then uses a contrasting transition (however) to express two positive ideas.

These words and phrases can be used as contrasting transitions:

Transitions for Contrasting Ideas



Despite that

Even so

Even though

In contrast



On the contrary

On the other hand






Provide Examples with Transitions

Often in your writing, you will want to use examples to support your ideas. Use a transition to move from an idea to an example.

Let’s look at the following example. The transition is bolded:

I am experienced in many computer applications, namely Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

This writer of this passage expresses a general idea and then uses the transition (namely) to lead into specific examples of the idea.

These words and phrases can be used as transitions for providing an example:

Transitions for Providing an Example

For example

For instance


In other words

In short


To illustrate


In fact

Summarize with Transitions

A majority of your writing will include general ideas with supporting examples—but a summary of those ideas is useful at the end of a paragraph, section, or document. This is when a summarizing transition is helpful.

Let’s look at the following example. The transition is bolded:

We need working chairs, better floors, and new windows. In short, we need a bigger budget.

The writer of this passage listed three specific needs and then used a summarizing transition (in short) to express the bigger, related issue—that they need more money.

These words and phrases can be used as summarizing transitions:

Transitions for Summarizing Ideas


All in all


In brief

In other words

In particular

In short

In simpler terms

In summary

That is


To summarize

Conclude with Transitions

After you finish a paragraph or a section of writing, and definitely when you have finished an entire document, you may need to signal to your reader that you are concluding your ideas. Use a transition to signal that the conclusion is coming.

Let’s look at the following example. The transition is bolded:

Your degree, passion, and computer knowledge make you somewhat qualified for this position. However, you are young and inexperienced. In sum, you need a few years’ experience in this field before we can hire you.

The writer of this passage provides some details about a candidate’s qualifications for a position and then ends the discussion. She ends by using a concluding transition (in sum) to explain what the candidate must do to be better qualified for the position.

These words and phrases can be used as concluding transitions:

Transitions for Concluding Ideas

In conclusion


In brief


In the end


To sum up

To summarize

To conclude

Practice Problems

1. Which word best fits the following sentence?:
On our way to the construction site, we lost phone service and didn’t have GPS. We looked for a paper map in the vehicle, but there wasn’t one. ____, we got lost.

  1. Thus
  2. Before
  3. In contrast
  4. Besides

2. Which word best fits the following sentence?:
After this year, four teachers and two librarians will retire. ____, we will be doing a lot of hiring next summer.

  1. Therefore
  2. Lastly
  3. To illustrate
  4. Until now

3. Which word best fits the following sentence?:
All of my patients have been given their medicine, ____ many of them refused to take it.

  1. although
  2. in short
  3. as soon as
  4. specifically

4. Which word best fits the following sentence?:
Imelda is the fastest typist I know. ____, she can type 100 words per minute.

  1. In fact
  2. Therefore
  3. On the contrary
  4. Also

5. Which word best fits the following sentence?:
My car got a flat tire when I was out for lunch. ____ I was on the phone informing my supervisor of the problem, I realized I did not have anything to fix the tire.

  1. Still
  2. While
  3. Even so
  4. Finally
Answer Key
  1. Thus
  2. Therefore
  3. although
  4. In fact
  5. While

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