How to Determine the Text Structure of a Passage Using Transitions

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Text structures are identifiable patterns in the organization of text in a written work. This lesson will discuss the use of transitions to determine text structure. We will end with a very short quiz to see what you have learned.

Text Structure

Think about the last thing you read. Was it a newspaper? Or maybe even a text message? Depending on what you read, the text structure was likely very different. Text structure is the pattern of organization within a passage. Text structure helps to convey the message of the author. For example, if you read a newspaper article, the author's purpose was probably to inform you of something. Therefore, his or her text structure would be designed to do just that.

For instance, if you were reading about an event, the author might present ideas in chronological order according to when they took place. This organization of the material supports the author's purpose of providing information.

Now that we understand what text structure is, let's take a closer look at how we can use transitions to determine the text structure of a passage.

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  • 0:00 Text Structure
  • 1:00 Transitions in Text Structure
  • 1:44 Chronological Order
  • 2:23 Compare & Contrast
  • 2:58 Cause & Effect, Descriptive
  • 3:49 Lesson Summary
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Transitions in Text Structure

Transitions are words or phrases that relate or connect sentences and ideas. A text without transitions would not flow and might seem like a hodgepodge of unrelated sentences and ideas. Words like however, for example, later, above all, and in short are transitions. Transition words help readers understand what the author is trying to say.

Furthermore, the transitions used by an author can tell a lot about the overall text structure of the passage. By focusing on the specific transitions used in a passage, readers can quickly determine the text structure. Let's give it a try with specific examples.

Chronological Order

Earlier in this lesson, we discussed a newspaper article that was designed to inform us of an event. This type of article would probably use a lot of transition words that refer to time or order of events, such as first, before, after, or as a result of because they indicate a point in time. For example, in describing the arrival of an important figure in the news, the author might begin by stating that first the arena was prepared before the speaker arrived. These transition words give readers clues that the text structure of the article is about a sequence of events.

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