What Are Transition Words? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:04 Transition Words
  • 0:46 Reinforcement
  • 1:24 Contradiction
  • 1:51 Cause & Effect
  • 2:15 Chronology
  • 2:39 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Expert Contributor
Kaitlyn Danahy

Kate has a bachelor's degree in literature & creative writing from Gordon College. She taught high school literature in India and tutored in the US.

In this lesson, we'll examine the use of transition words to smoothly connect thoughts and ideas. We'll look at specific examples of transition words that support, contrast, indicate time, or show consequences.

Transition Words

Why do you need to know about transition words?

Take a look at this sentence:

The petit fours were individually wrapped; however, the crudités were placed on trays.

Now, look at this sentence:

The petit fours were individually wrapped after the crudités were placed on trays.

The basic information contained in the clauses is the same, but the meaning is slightly altered by the choice of transition words. Transition words are used by writers to improve the flow of writing by smoothly shifting between ideas. Among other things, transition words may be used to connect, contrast, show cause/effect relationships, and indicate chronology or position between ideas. Let's examine some transition words and look at examples of how they're used in writing.


Sometimes, transition words are used to support or add information to the preceding clause or sentence. The following examples in the table that follows are examples of commonly used transition words that provide extra information to readers.

again to and
also then equally
identically uniquely like
as too moreover
likewise comparatively correspondingly
similarly furthermore additionally

Some are simple like 'to' and well, 'and.' And, some are more difficult to use effectively, like 'moreover' or ' correspondingly.' It's important to know how to effectively and accurately use these transition words when you're writing an essay or long-form piece.

For example:

Toby sat down to finish his taxes. Similarly, Aaron occupied the chair across the table from him, where he completed his homework.


At other times, transition words are used to show disagreement between two ideas. Take a look at some of these contradictory transition words appearing right now:

but unlike or
while albeit besides
although instead whereas
despite conversely otherwise
however rather nevertheless
nonetheless regardless notwithstanding

You might recognize some of them, like 'but' and 'or,' though there are some that some people might have more difficulty with using effectively, like 'notwithstanding' or 'albeit.'

For example:

Despite the committee's recommendation, the company decided to move forward with the decision to hire one hundred additional employees.

Cause & Effect

Sometimes, transition words are used to indicate cause and effect relationships. The following list appearing in the next table provides examples of transition words that indicate consequence.

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Additional Activities

Transitional Words Practice:

Now that you've learned all about transitional words, it's time to practice. Below are four examples. Connect the sentences together by inserting one of the transitional words suggested at the start of the second sentence in each example. Consider the purpose of using the word where indicated (category) to help you choose the best answer.

1) Juliet told her mother she was visiting her friend in nursing school. She was really visiting Romeo.

(however, additionally, thus, since)

2) Hamlet was upset and moody after his father's death. He fought with Ophelia after it even though they had never fought before.

(instead, when, consequently, furthermore)

3) Desdemona never pictured herself sneaking out of her father's house to meet a boy. Othello appeared and everything changed.

(because, besides, likewise, when)

4) Imogen's father had been very strict since his two sons went missing. Since she started dating Posthumous, it had only grown worse.

(whereas, additionally, meanwhile, therefore)

Now, read the following paragraph. Insert up to five transition words of your choosing.

At Shakespeare High, there was a rivalry between the comedy club and the drama club. The comedy club, headed by Beatrice and Benedick, liked to prank the drama club; the drama club, headed by class president Macbeth, was not amused. There was a third club for history nerds, headed by a young man named Hal, who was known as a delinquent. Hal's father was the principal. Most students belonged to one of the three clubs. Some students, like Cressida, Troilus, and Isabella, did not fit in with any of the three and were considered problem students. A few of these problem students, such as Hermione, Pericles, and Miranda, were thinking about starting a club for students who liked romance stories.

Answer Key:

1) However; the ideas are contradicting ("really" suggests she lied to her mother).

2) Consequently; the death caused Hamlet to be upset and fight with Ophelia.

3) When; Desdemona's behavior suddenly changed, so it is a chronological transition world.

4) Additionally; the detail about her father growing worse reinforces the previous sentence's statement. (Bonus: there is another transitional word here! "Since" reinforces chronology.)

For the paragraph exercise, answers will vary widely.

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