As a "part of speech" transition words are used to link words, phrases or sentences. They help the reader to progress from one idea (expressed by the author) to the next idea. Thus, they help to build up coherent relationships within the text.
This structured list of commonly used English transition words — approximately 200, can be considered as quasi complete. It can be used (by students and teachers alike) to find the right expression. English transition words are essential, since they not only connect ideas, but also can introduce a certain shift, contrast or opposition, emphasis or agreement, purpose, result or conclusion, etc. in the line of argument.
The transition words and phrases have been assigned only once to somewhat artificial categories, although some words belong to more than one category.
There is some overlapping with prepositions and postpositions, but for the purpose of usage and completeness of this concise guide, I did not differentiate.
Agreement / Addition / Similarity
The transition words like also, in addition, and, likewise, add information, reinforce ideas, and express agreement with preceding material.
in the first place
not only ... but also
as a matter of fact
in like manner
in the same fashion / way
first, second, third
in the light of
not to mention
to say nothing of
by the same token
as well as
Opposition / Limitation / Contradiction
Transition phrases like but, rather and or, express that there is evidence to the contrary or point out alternatives, and thus introduce a change the line of reasoning (contrast).
although this may be true
of course ..., but
on the other hand
on the contrary
at the same time
in spite of
even so / though
be that as it may
as much as
Cause / Condition / Purpose
These transitional phrases present specific conditions or intentions.
in the event that
as / so long as
on (the) condition (that)
for the purpose of
with this intention
with this in mind
in the hope that
to the end that
for fear that
in order to
seeing / being that
in view of
only / even if
so as to
Examples / Support / Emphasis
These transitional devices (like especially) are used to introduce examples as support, to indicate importance or as an illustration so that an idea is cued to the reader.
in other words
to put it differently
for one thing
as an illustration
in this case
for this reason
to put it another way
that is to say
with attention to
by all means
important to realize
another key point
first thing to remember
most compelling evidence
must be remembered
point often overlooked
to point out
on the positive side
on the negative side
with this in mind
to be sure
Effect / Consequence / Result
Some of these transition words (thus, then, accordingly, consequently, therefore, henceforth) are time words that are used to show that after a particular time there was a consequence or an effect.
Note that for and because are placed before the cause/reason. The other devices are placed before the consequences or effects.
as a result
under those circumstances
in that case
for this reason
Conclusion / Summary / Restatement
These transition words and phrases conclude, summarize and / or restate ideas, or indicate a final general statement. Also some words (like therefore) from the Effect / Consequence category can be used to summarize.
as can be seen
in the final analysis
all things considered
as shown above
in the long run
given these points
as has been noted
in a word
for the most part
by and large
to sum up
on the whole
in any event
in either case
all in all
Time / Chronology / Sequence
These transitional words (like finally) have the function of limiting, restricting, and defining time. They can be used either alone or as part of adverbial expressions.
at the present time
from time to time
sooner or later
at the same time
up to the present time
to begin with
in due time
as soon as
as long as
in the meantime
in a moment
in the first place
all of a sudden
at this instant
by the time
Many transition words in the time category (consequently; first, second, third; further; hence; henceforth; since; then, when; and whenever) have other uses.
Except for the numbers (first, second, third) and further they add a meaning of time in expressing conditions, qualifications, or reasons. The numbers are also used to add information or list examples. Further is also used to indicate added space as well as added time.
Space / Location / Place
These transition words are often used as part of adverbial expressions and have the function to restrict, limit or qualify space. Quite a few of these are also found in the Time category and can be used to describe spatial order or spatial reference.
in the middle
to the left/right
in front of
on this side
in the distance
here and there
in the foreground
in the background
in the center of
List of Transition Words
Transition Words are also sometimes called (or put in the category of) Connecting Words. Please feel free to download them via this link to the category page:
Linking Words & Connecting Words as a PDF.
It contains all the transition words listed on this site. The image to the left gives you an impression how it looks like.
Usage of Transition Words in Essays
Transition words and phrases are vital devices for essays, papers or other literary compositions. They improve the connections and transitions between sentences and paragraphs. They thus give the text a logical organization and structure (see also: a List of Synonyms).
All English transition words and phrases (sometimes also called 'conjunctive adverbs') do the same work as coordinating conjunctions: they connect two words, phrases or clauses together and thus the text is easier to read and the coherence is improved.
Usage: transition words are used with a special rule for punctuation: a semicolon or a period is used after the first 'sentence', and a comma is almost always used to set off the transition word from the second 'sentence'.
People use 43 muscles when they frown; however, they use only 28 muscles when they smile.
However, transition words can also be placed at the beginning of a new paragraph or sentence - not only to indicate a step forward in the reasoning, but also to relate the new material to the preceding thoughts.
Use a semicolon to connect sentences, only if the group of words on either side of the semicolon is a complete sentence each (both must have a subject and a verb, and could thus stand alone as a complete thought).
Further helpful readings about expressions, writing and grammar: Compilation of Writing Tips How to write good ¦ Correct Spelling Study by an English University
Are you using WORD for writing professional texts and essays? There are many easy Windows Shortcuts available which work (almost) system-wide (e.g. in every programm you use).
Vocabulary and spelling series
Transitional Words & Phrases
Using transitional words and phrases
helps papers read more smoothly, and at the same time allows the reader to flow more smoothly from one point to the next.
Transitions enhance logical organization and understandability
and improve the connections between thoughts. They indicate relations,
whether within a sentence, paragraph, or paper.
This list illustrates categories of "relationships" between ideas,
followed by words and phrases that can make the connections:
also, again, as well as, besides, coupled with, furthermore, in addition, likewise, moreover, similarly
When there is a trusting relationship coupled with positive reinforcement, the partners will be able to overcome difficult situations.
accordingly, as a result, consequently, for this reason, for this purpose,
hence, otherwise, so then, subsequently, therefore, thus, thereupon, wherefore
Highway traffic came to a stop as a result of an accident that morning.
Contrast and Comparison:
contrast, by the same token, conversely, instead, likewise,
on one hand, on the other hand, on the contrary, rather,
similarly, yet, but, however, still, nevertheless, in contrast
The children were very happy. On the other hand, and perhaps more importantly, their parents were very proactive in providing good care.
here, there, over there, beyond, nearly, opposite, under, above,
to the left, to the right, in the distance
She scanned the horizon for any sign though in the distance she could not see the surprise coming her way.
by the way, incidentally
He stumbled upon the nesting pair incidentally found only on this hill.
above all, chiefly, with attention to, especially, particularly, singularly
The Quakers gathered each month with attention to deciding the business of their Meeting.
aside from, barring, beside, except, excepting, excluding, exclusive of, other than, outside of, save
Consensus was arrived at by all of the members exclusive of those who could not vote.
chiefly, especially, for instance, in particular, markedly, namely,
particularly, including, specifically, such as
Some friends and I drove up the beautiful coast chiefly to avoid the heat island of the city.
as a rule, as usual, for the most part, generally, generally speaking, ordinarily, usually
There were a few very talented artists in the class, but for the most part the students only wanted to avoid the alternative course.
for example, for instance, for one thing, as an illustration,
illustrated with, as an example, in this case
The chapter provided complex sequences and examples illustrated with a very simple schematic diagram.
comparatively, coupled with, correspondingly, identically, likewise, similar, moreover, together with
The research was presented in a very dry style though was coupled with examples that made the audience tear up.
in essence, in other words, namely, that is, that is to say, in short, in brief, to put it differently
In their advertising business, saying things directly was not the rule. That is to say, they tried to convey the message subtly though with creativity.
at first, first of all, to begin with, in the first place, at the same time,
for now, for the time being, the next step, in time, in turn, later on,
meanwhile, next, then, soon, the meantime, later, while, earlier,
simultaneously, afterward, in conclusion, with this in mind,
The music had a very retro sound but at the same time incorporated a complex modern rhythm.
after all, all in all, all things considered, briefly, by and large, in any case, in any event,
in brief, in conclusion, on the whole, in short, in summary, in the final analysis,
in the long run, on balance, to sum up, to summarize, finally
She didn't seem willing to sell the car this week, but in any case I don't get paid until the end of the month.