Transition words are important in both writing and speaking in order to help your audience understand the logic of your message.  These words are especially important in English, because English is a writer-responsible language.

When communicating in English, it is the writer or speaker’s responsibility to make the message clearly understood.  This is why schools in English-speaking countries focus so much on clear, direct, and unambiguous message structures.  To be clearly understood by your reader or listener, is it important that you make use of transition words and phrases.

The transition words and phrases we will examine in the post are particularly useful in essays, speeches, emails, reports, and any other form of academic or formal communication.  Many of these words and phrases are relatively formal, and so it is more appropriate to use them in formal writing and speaking situations rather than daily conversation.

We will begin with transitions words related to sequence and causation.  These are some of the most common situations in which clear transitions improve your message.

For more information on writer-responsible and reader-responsible languages, visit http://www.callearning.com/blog/2011/01/who-is-responsible-for-the-message/

Causation: Provide a consequence

These words and phrases introduce a consequence or result.  Use them after a sentence or paragraph that describes a cause.

  • Thus
  • As such
  • Therefore
  • Consequently
  • As a result
  • Hence
  • Accordingly

For example:

  • The company is growing rapidly. [Accordingly / Consequently / As such] it is necessary to hire new staff.
  • The conference speaker’s flight has been delayed. [As such / Therefore / As a result] we will reschedule the lecture.
  • Monday is a national holiday. [As a result / Accordingly / Thus / Hence / Consequently] classes will be canceled.

Causation: Provide a reason

These words and phrases introduce a reason or cause.  Use them to begin writing or speaking about a cause and effect relationship.  But be careful, when you use these at the beginning of a sentence, you must also include a result or consequence at the end of the sentence.

  • Since + [verb phrase]
  • As + [verb phrase]
  • Because of + [noun phrase]
  • As a result of + [noun phrase]
  • Due to + [noun phrase]
  • Owing to + [noun phrase]

For example:

  • [Because of / As a result of / Due to / Owing to] the company’s rapid growth, it’s necessary to hire new staff.
  • [Since / As ] the conference speaker’s flight has been delayed, we will reschedule the lecture.
  • [Since / As] Monday is a national holiday, classes will be canceled.
  • [Because of / As a result of / Due to / Owing to] the national holiday on Monday, classes will be canceled.

Sequence

Use these words and phrases to show the sequence and order of events or ideas.  These are especially useful at the beginning of paragraphs, but can be just as important at the beginning of other sentences to show the relationship between ideas.

  • First, second, third….
  • First of all
  • To begin with
  • Next
  • Then
  • Following this
  • At this time
  • Now
  • At this point
  • After
  • Afterward
  • Subsequently
  • Finally
  • Previously
  • Before this
  • Simultaneously
  • Next
  • Meanwhile