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It’s very helpful for readers to know the connections between sentences. Sometimes, the writers assume that putting two pieces of information side by side is enough to show their connection, but readers need to know how that information is connected. Transitions like however, on the other hand, in addition, etc. provide those links.

There are two important things to remember about transitions.

  1. They are not magic glue.

    If you put a transition between two sentences that have no relationship, the transition won’t magically create a relationship. For instance, “Rocket ships are hard to build, by extension apples are delicious.” You can see that the transition “by extension” does not work here because there is no real relationship between the sentences “rocket ships are hard to build” and “apples are delicious.” Remember that transitions illustrate relationships that already exist; they don’t create new relationships.
  2. They are not random.

    Because transitions illustrate relationships that already exist, you can’t just stick any transition between two sentences; you first need to figure out what their relationship is. For instance, imagine if I wrote the previous paragraph like this: Although transitions illustrate relationships that already exist, you can’t just stick any transition between two sentences; admittedly you have to figure out their relationship first. That sentence doesn’t make any sense, because the transitions are just random.

    Here is a list of a few transitions and their purposes:
    Function Example
    To Add

    Also, Furthermore, In addition, In fact, Indeed, Moreover

    Furthermore, Holden’s heroic nature appears in his relationships with Jane and Phoebe.

    To Give an Example

    After all, As an illustration, For examples, For instance, Specifically, Consider

    After all, Holden loves his sister, and his greatest desire is to keep her free from the harm he associates with adult life.

    To Elaborate

    By extension, In short, That is, In other words, Ultimately

    By extension, Holden transfers his protective attitude from his children to all children

    To Compare

    Likewise, Similarly,

    In the same way Holden preserves his memories of Jane in the same way.

    To Contrast

    Although, By contrast, Conversely, Despite, Even though, However, In contrast, Nevertheless, On the other hand, Regardless, Whereas, While

    Despite his many flaws, Holden can still be considered a hero.

    To Show Cause and Effect

    As a result, Consequently, Hence, Since, Therefore,

    Thus Holden decides that the people around him are phonies; consequently, he runs away to New York.

    To Concede

    Admittedly, Granted

    Granted, Holden can be very annoying.

    To Conclude

    As a result, Consequently, Hence, In conclusion, In short, In sum, Therefore, Thus

    Holden’s story resonates with many young people who read this book; therefore, The Catcher in the Rye should continue to be taught for many years to come.

    This handout has a table that will help show you how to use transitions effectively: Transitions / UNC Chapel Hill Writing Centre