What Are Spanish Transition Words?

Instructor: Vanessa Botts
Transition words help connect ideas and show the relationship between a main idea and a supporting detail. They also improve oral conversation. Let's discuss the importance of these words and various examples you can incorporate into your Spanish writing.

What Are Transition Words?

Think about crossing a raging river. Would you be able to jump across? Would you dare swim against the current? Probably not, right? A bridge would solve your problem, as it would allow you to safely and seamlessly cross this potentially dangerous body of water because it connects one side of the river to the other.

Well, transition words are like bridges for writing, they connect ideas, sentences, and even paragraphs. These words bridge one idea to the next so the reader avoids having to jump or swim across the river (one paragraph or idea to the next). Instead, they can take a nice stroll to get to the other side and understand the logic of what they are reading.

Let's discuss how writers can use Spanish transition words to improve their writing and help guide the reader. We will also discuss how they can help in oral conversation.

Using Transition Words

In addition to acting as a bridge between ideas for the reader, transition words help the writer improve their writing in a variety of ways. No matter what language we use, whether it is our first, second or even third language, when we are beginner writers, we typically write the way we think because our brains tend to jump from one idea to the next.

To complicate things further, when we write in a language we are also learning, our thoughts become even more jumpy or we may have a difficult time making our writing flow. The same is true in conversation where disjointed phrases and sentences may interfere with the message we are trying to get across.

For instance, maybe you say or write something like this in Spanish class:

La muchacha es bonita. La muchacha es inteligente. A la muchacha le gusta bailar el merengue. A la muchacha no le gusta bailar la salsa. (The girl is pretty. The girl is intelligent. The girl likes to dance merengue. The girl does not like to dance salsa)

You will probably notice there is nothing grammatically wrong with the sentences, but they are a bit 'jumpy' and quite basic. To improve the flow of the sentences and to make this short composition more interesting and advanced, you can use transition words. Take a look at the re-written work:

La muchacha es bonita y también es inteligente. Le gusta bailar merengue, pero no le gusta bailar las salsa. (The girl is pretty and also intelligent. She likes to dance merengue, but does not like to dance salsa.)

Much better, right! Did you notice the use of transition words in bold?

As you can see, transition words can help you to better communicate both orally and in writing. Now, let's take a look at some examples of useful transition words in Spanish.

Example Transition Words

Words to Introduce Ideas

  • Para empezar - To begin with (pronounced: PARR-ah em-pay-ZAR)
  • Primeramente - Firstly (pronounced: pree-mare-ah-MEN-teh)
  • Primero - First (pronounced: pree-mare-oh)
  • En primer lugar - In the first place (pronounced: Ehn pree-mare loo-GAHR)

Words to Add Information

  • además - moreover (pronounced: AH dem-AHS)
  • también - also (pronounced: TAHM-bee-in)
  • por ejemplo - for example (pronounced: POHR eh-HEM-ploh)
  • de hecho - as a matter of fact (pronounced: DEH EH-choh)

Words to Present an Opposing View

  • sin embargo - however (pronounced: SEEN em-BAR-goh)
  • pero - but (pronounced: PEH-roh)
  • aunque - even though (pronounced: AH-oon-keh)
  • por otro lado - on the other hand (pronounced: POHR OH-troh LADD-oh)

Words to Emphasize an Idea

  • sobre todo - above all (pronounced: SOB-reh TODD-oh)
  • especialmente - specially (pronounced: S-peh-see-ah-MEHN-teh)
  • principalmente - principally (pronounced: preen-see-pahl-MEHN-teh)
  • igualmente - equally (pronounced: ee-goo-ahl-MEHN-teh)

Words to Explain an Idea

  • en otras palabras - in other words (pronounced: EHN OH-trahs pahl-AH-bras)
  • como - like, such as (pronounced: COH-moh)
  • para ilustrar - to illustrate (pronounced: PAH-ra EE-loos-TRAHR)
  • es decir - that is (pronounced: S deh-seer)

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