Transition Sentences – How to Use Them Correctly

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Transition-sentences-Definition

Transition sentences are important through lines for a paper, as they add to the flow and connectivity of an argument. Learn how to use transition sentences to connect paragraphs and create a convincing, well-written paper below.

Transition Sentences – In a Nutshell

  • Transition sentences are ways of connecting sentences and ideas. They’re a vital element of high-quality academic writing.
  • Transition sentences are used for clarity and cohesion.
  • You can overuse transition sentences, words, and phrases, so always aim to introduce them as naturally as possible.

Definition: Transition sentences

Transition sentences are crucial to the flow of a paper and for clear comprehension. They help guide a reader through a piece of research; its findings and arguments. They also help to understand how central ideas in your paper are connected.

As such, transition sentences are used to structure paragraphs and link up sections. This commonly involves referring to language or phrases used in a previous paragraph at the beginning of a new one. 1

Example:

“… The Great Depression brought an end to the Weimar Republic’s soaring progress. However, Heinrich Brüning’s policy of deflation and austerity exacerbated those economic woes.”

What makes good transition sentences?

Good transition sentences make explicit connections between ideas in a way that’s unique to your paper.

While we tend to use specific words and phrases in transition sentences, you should avoid the use of “this”. It’s not always clear what “this” means – so the more specific the transition, the better.2

Oftentimes, it just takes a few tweaks to create a convincing connection between sentences. Use of signposting language, like “however”, “furthermore”, “by comparison”, etc., helps carry thoughts through from sentence to sentence. The best transition sentences, however, are more specific.

Example:

“… The company recorded increased sales over the last quarter, which surged profits to their highest yet. These exceptional profits were due to the company’s migration to e-commerce.”

Here, the paragraphs are organically transitioned in the discussion of “the company” and “profits”.

Transition sentences between paragraphs

Transition sentences between paragraphs aim to introduce what a new paragraph is about and how it links to the previous paragraph. You can utilize a range of linking words to make this transition clear.

Example:

Transition sentence Paragraph link
Further data collected by David confirmed Wallis’ hypothesis. The new paragraph complements the previous one by providing further evidence.
Having outlined the research question, we can begin the process of defining our methodology. The paragraph treats the previous one(s) as a base from which it will define its terms
However, Smith's argument was written without consulting the new archival records. The paragraph indicates a contradiction with the previous one and sets itself up to present new evidence.

Transition sentences generally appear at the beginning of a paragraph. As each paragraph contains its own focal topic, you should avoid explaining what’s to come at the end of a paragraph. This is a waste of time and risks becoming over-explanatory.

Transition sentences between paragraphs

Transition sentences to indicate a new section

Unlike transitions between paragraphs, new sections often require a more detailed breakdown of previous arguments and how you’ll build on them or provide a new direction.

It’s good practice to dedicate a whole paragraph to this sort of transition if needed. This works to summarize your previous section while indicating how you’ll build on or provide new evidence.

However, the general academic consensus of being as clear and concise as possible still applies. If you can transition to a new section in just one sentence, that will suffice.

Transition sentences within a paragraph

Transition sentences within paragraphs are important for the flow of a paper as a way to lead a reader through your argument.

Here are some ways to implement transition sentences and phrases within paragraphs.

The known-new contract

Known-new is a writing concept for sentence structure. It recommends that new sentences should begin with a reference to a previous sentence (the known) before connecting that to new information.

Arguments should be presented within the known-new contract order for clarity and cohesion. What’s more, by repeating known information, you also make an argument clearer by recognizing its key points.

Example of a passage that lacks a clear sentence flow:

“The Second World War had many causes. The invasion of Poland, an ally of Britain and France, by Nazi Germany was a causal event that led to official declarations of war.”

By restructuring the passage so that the second sentence transitions more smoothly from the first, you can produce a more effective piece of writing.

Example:

“The Second World War had many causes. The precipitating causal event was the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, which led to official declarations of war…”

The transition comes sooner in the sentence, creating a more obvious link between the two sentences. While this known-new contract is recommended, you don’t have to apply it to every sentence. Try it out when you’re struggling to get two sentences to flow.

Transition words and phrases

Transition words and phrases are simple language tools used to connect sentences. There are four groups:

  1. Additive: These transitions introduce new information or evidence.
  2. Adversative: These transitions indicate a contradiction or moving on.
  3. Causal: These transitions deal with cause and effect.
  4. Sequential: These transitions underscore a sequence.

Example:

Group Example sentence Example words
Additive After World War Two, the US and Soviet Union's superpower status meant that Europe lost considerable influence in international politics. Moreover, World War Two started the decolonization process. Moreover, furthermore, for example, similarly, in other words, what's more, in regard to
Adversative America encouraged trade growth between Japan and Europe. However, Europe was concerned Japan would re-engage with its global dumping activities. However, although, regardless, above all, nevertheless, at least
Causal Because of the above policies, development is part of the agreement. Because, therefore, consequently, provided that, so that, if
Sequential This happened for many reasons. First, the embargo led to a decline in agricultural prices. First, second, third (etc.), firstly, lastly, finally, subsequently, in conclusion, as previously stated

Grouping similar information

While transition words are recommended for flow, too many can lead to wordy passages. To avoid over-using transition words, similar information can simply be grouped for clarity. This helps produce a clearer and cleaner bit of text.

Example:

“Richards (2002) believes that the results should be rejected. However, Pratt (2003) argues that they are valuable. What’s more, Davis (2003) agrees with Richards. Moreover, Hawkins (2004) also contends the results are void.”

This can easily be rewritten as:

“Richards (2002), Davis (2003), and Hawkins (2004) all agree that the results should be rejected, whereas Pratt (2003) contends they are valuable.”

FAQs

Transition sentences are like bridges between sentences, allowing you to connect different ideas or indicate a development in an argument.

They aid comprehension to develop stronger written arguments.

They let readers know of connections between evidence and function as introductions to topics. They also signpost when a topic changes or a new argument is being formed.

Without transition sentences, sentences would appear random, unorganized, and difficult to read.

All academic writing should aim for clarity, and transition sentences help this.

Sources

1 Purdue Online Writing Lab. “Writing Transitions.” Purdue University. Accessed November 29, 2022. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/mechanics/transitions_and_transitional_devices/index.html.

2 The Writing Center. “Transition Sentences.” The College of Saint Rose. Accessed November 29, 2022. https://www.strose.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Transition-Sentences-Handout-2012B.pdf.