2.jpg Transitions in Essays

Abstract: This resource provides the introduction of transitions, the functions and importances of them, as well as specific transitional devices and transition strategies.
Contributor: cathy3212

zm2_120.JPG Definition

In both academic and professional wrting, transitions serve as the media to convey information clearly and concisely by establishing logical connections between sentences, paragraphs, and sections in essays. The form of a transition can be a word, a phrase, a sentence or an entire paragraph which function as signs with particular meanings to reveal the logic and ideas of an essay.

3.jpg Functions and Importances of Transitions

Basically, transitions provide the reader with directions for how to piece together ideas into a logically coherent argument.A transition can be a single word, a phrase, a sentence, or an entire paragraph. It functions in two ways:
1. The transition can either directly summarizes the content of a preceding sentence, paragraph, or section or implies such a summary in order to remind the reader of what has come before.
2. The transition helps the reader anticipate or comprehend the new information to present.
Good transitions can connect paragraphs and turn disconnected writing into a unified whole. Instead of treating paragraphs or sections of an essay as separate ideas, transitions can help readers understand how paragraphs or sections work together, reference one another, and build to a larger point.

3.jpgBefore Employing Transitions
Since the clarity and effectiveness of transitions largely depend on the organization of an essay, it is important to evaluate a paper's organization before employing transitions.

zm2_120.JPGTypes of Transitions

The types of transitions available should be used according to circumstances in the text.
1.Transitions between paragraphsIf you have done a good job of arranging paragraphs so that the content of one leads logically to the next, the transition will highlight a relationship that already exists by summarizing the previous paragraph and suggesting something of the content of the paragraph that follows. A transition between paragraphs can be a word or two (however, for example, similarly), a phrase, or a sentence. Transitions can be at the end of the first paragraph, at the beginning of the second paragraph, or in both places.

2. Transitions within paragraphs—As with transitions between sections and paragraphs, transitions within paragraphs act as cues by helping readers to anticipate what is coming before they read it. Within paragraphs, transitions tend to be single words or short phrases.

3. Transitions between sections—Particularly in longer work, it may be necessary to include transitional paragraphs that summarize for the reader the information just covered and specify the relevance of this information to the discussion in the following section.

3.jpgTransitional Devices

1. Definition of Transitional devices

Transitional devices are words or phrases that help carry a thought from one sentence to another, from one idea to another, or from one paragraph to another. They run the gamut from the most simple — the little conjunctions: and, but, nor, for, yet, or, (and sometimes) so — to more complex signals that ideas are somehow connected — the conjunctive adverbs and transitional expressions such as however, moreover, nevertheless, on the other hand.

2. Functions of Transitional Devices

Transitional devices are like bridges between parts of your paper. They are cues that help the reader to interpret ideas a paper develops. In addition, transitional devices link sentences and paragraphs together smoothly so that there are no abrupt jumps or breaks between ideas.

There are several types of transitional devices, and each category leads readers to make certain connections or assumptions. Some lead readers forward and imply the building of an idea or thought, while others make readers compare ideas or draw conclusions from the preceding thoughts.

3. A List of Common Transitional Devices for Reference

Note: Transitional words and phrases can creat powerful links between ideas in your paper. However, these words have different meanings, nuances, and connotations. Before using a particular transitional word or phrase, be sure you understand its meaning and usage completely and that it is the right match for the logic in your paper.

  • To Add:
and, again, and then, besides, equally important, finally, further, furthermore, nor, too, next, lastly, what's more, moreover, in addition, still, first (second, etc.)
  • To Compare:
whereas, but, yet, on the other hand, however, nevertheless, on the contrary, by comparison, where, compared to, up against, balanced against, vis a vis, but, although, conversely, meanwhile, after all, in contrast, although this may be true, likewise
  • To Prove:
because, for, since, for the same reason, obviously, evidently, furthermore, moreover, besides, indeed, in fact, in addition, in any case, that is
  • To Show Exception:
yet, still, however, nevertheless, in spite of, despite, of course, once in a while, sometimes
  • To Show Time:
immediately, thereafter, soon, after a few hours, finally, then, later, previously, formerly, first (second, etc.), next, and then
  • To Repeat:
in brief, as I have said, as I have noted, as has been noted
  • To Emphasize:
definitely, extremely, obviously, in fact, indeed, in any case, absolutely, positively, naturally, surprisingly, always, forever, perennially, eternally, never, emphatically, unquestionably, without a doubt, certainly, undeniably, without reservation
  • To Show Sequence:
first, second, third, and so forth. A, B, C, and so forth. next, then, following this, at this time, now, at this point, after, afterward, subsequently, finally, consequently, previously, before this, simultaneously, concurrently, thus, therefore, hence, next, and then, soon
  • To Give an Example:
for example, for instance, in this case, in another case, on this occasion, in this situation, take the case of, to demonstrate, to illustrate, as an illustration, to illustrate
  • To Summarize or Conclude:
in brief, on the whole, summing up, to conclude, in conclusion, as I have shown, as I have said, hence, therefore, accordingly, thus, as a result, consequently
  • Demonstratives Acting as Transitions:
this, these, that, those
  • Pronouns Serving as Links to Refer to A Specific Word or Phrase:
his, its, hers, theirs, it, their, your, her, they, our

3.jpgTransition Strategies in Writing

There are different ways of making an effective transition:

1) Place a strong sentence at the end of the preceding paragraph.

The last sentence of some paragraphs in a critical essay or paper may act as a mini-conclusion to the paragraph. It may wrap up the thought, or tie the information presented to your thesis. It may also act as a bridge to your next paragraph. Consider this example, from a paper in which a writer compares Americans' reactions to traveling to other parts of the country:

Many Westerners don't like rivers in the East. They are alarmed by the muddy water, the overhanging trees, and the snakes. Some Easterners aren't too thrilled about Western rivers, either.

Western rivers can seem shallow, freezing cold, too exposed to the sun, rocky, and uninviting to someone used to the gentle and fertile rivers of the East. Instead of a gentle float in a canoe, a Western "river run" can be a terrifying experience for the novice Easterner. . .

Note: how the writer begins the transition at the end of the first paragraph and then continues the transition with a strong topic sentence in the next paragraph.

2) Make an allusion to the topic of the preceding paragraph.

You might refer to the main topic of your last paragraph. Read your topic sentence or gloss the paragraph to make sure you know its main thrust (see the Writer's Web handout on glossing).
In the preceding example, how the second paragraph's topic sentence sets the reader up for the new topic (Western rivers) and also refers back to Eastern rivers. It is also possible to begin a transition in the second paragraph, like this:

Many Westerners don't like rivers in the East. They are alarmed by the muddy water, the overhanging trees, and the snakes. Westerners often won't stick their big toes in rivers that look like the James.

To Easterners, on the other hand, Western rivers can seem shallow, freezing cold, too exposed to the sun, rocky, and uninviting. . .

In this example, the final sentence of the first paragraph serves as that "mini-conclusion" discussed above.
Note: Whatever type of transition you use, you should clearly present the topic of the paragraph that follows.



External Links

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/574/01/ (transition strategies)
http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/transitions.htm ( introduction of transitions and transitional devices)
http://www.uvu.edu/owl/infor/pdf/content_organization/transitions.pdf (transition strategies)
http://virtual.yosemite.cc.ca.us/lumanr2/English_25/Using%20Transitions2.ppt ( introduction of transitiona and transition strategies)