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Author: Martina Shabram

Identify the appropriate transitional word or phrase when connecting ideas in a sentence.

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Source: [image of building blocks, public domain,] [image of dog, public domain,]

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Hello, students. My name is Dr. Martina Shabram. And I will be your instructor for today's lesson. I'm genuinely excited to teach you these concepts. So let's get started.

So what are we going to cover today? This lesson is all about transitions. So we'll introduce transitions, learn about the different types of transitions you might use, and practice selecting the most effective transition in any writing moment. So here we go.

What are these things, transitions? Well, they're tools that we use in sentences and paragraphs to move from one idea to the next. Transitions are words, phrases, or sentences that clarify connections between ideas. So this means that they will click together two ideas, like building blocks, telling the reader how a passage moves from one idea and into the one that's about to come.

This can happen on a small level, such as transitions between sentences. Or on a bigger level, such as when you transition between paragraphs and, therefore, between bigger, fuller ideas. So what do transitions look like?

Well, first of all, all conjunctions are transitions. You might recognize some common conjunctions like and, but, and or. But, there are lots more kinds of transitions and they fall into a few different categories-- contrast, additional information, example, qualification, and result. Let's look at some sample sentences to show how these might work.

Contrast transitions will show the difference between two ideas. That might look like this. Additional information demonstrates that the next idea will build on ideas from the first. That will look like this. Example transitions indicate that the next idea will be an example of the first idea. That may look like this. Qualification transitions point out that there might be conditions to the first idea. That might look like this. And result transitions identify that the first idea is a cause and the next idea is the effect. So that will look like this.

So now it's your turn to try these transitions out. Here are two paragraphs with some missing transitions. Pause for a moment to read through and decide what transitions you think should fill those blanks. Look for context clues in the sentences to help you decide. Press play whenever you're ready.

All right, got your answers? Let's compare. We'll start here. What kind of transition should this be? Well, the first sentence is an example about what some people argue. And the second is an argument from the opposite side. So this is a contrast. And we might then use a contrast transition, like, on the other hand.

OK, what about here? This time the transition is linking two paragraphs. When transitioning between paragraphs, it's useful to think about what each paragraph's main idea is. In the first paragraph, the main idea is that there are pro and con arguments for teaching these texts. In the second paragraph, we see a discussion of the ways in which pop culture texts might make sense in college courses. So the argument of the first paragraph results in the exploration of the second. Ah, so this should be a result transition. Perhaps like this.

OK, last one. This is a transition within a compound sentence. So we know that this can easily be a conjunction. Let's try one out. That works. Now these aren't the only transitions we could have chosen. But these are the kinds of transitions that make the most sense in each spot. So even if you selected different transitions, as long as you chose ones from the same category, your sentences will likely still make sense.

So as you can see, there are lots of possible transitions you can use in any writing situation. So how do you choose? Well, to select the most effective transition, check these three conditions first.

To start with, avoid being too wordy. Good writing is often concise writing. So aim for brevity and avoid unnecessarily complicated phrasing. For example, too wordy. Instead, why not try-- much better.

Second, match the tone of the sentences. If the paper is written in a formal voice, certain transition words like thus and therefore are particularly useful, whereas those very formal words might sound stiff in a more casual text. So think about the purpose and the context.

And finally, make sure that the transition itself is logical. When in doubt, ask yourself about the connection between the two ideas and then try to fit that connection into one of our five categories. If the transition doesn't fit, the ideas won't make sense and the connection won't be clear.

For example, well, this is peculiar. In addition implies that the dog's fleas are an additional reason that you'd want to pet him. But fleas are usually a reason not to pet a dog. So instead, let's try a different category of transition. There we go. Much better.

So what did we learn today? Well, we learned about transitions to connect ideas and move from one sentence or paragraph to the next. We outlined the five different categories of transitional words and phrases and saw how each category might work in a sentence. Finally, we practiced selecting the appropriate transitional word or phrase for any context.

Well, students, I hope you had as much fun as I did. Thank you.

Terms to Know

Words, phrases, or sentences that clarify connections between ideas.