The Use of Transitional Devices and Words

What are transitional words  – Definition

Before you get to applying transition words, it is good to understand what exactly are transitional devices.  Transitional words just from the word transit, means to bridge something from one point to another, therefore these are words used in an essay to link points and paragraphs to facilitate smooth flow. In addition to that, they can be used to move to another paragraph to show the continuity of ideas. If not properly used, it can make your research paper look clumsy and may give the reader a hard time. Well, used transition words will help one create a well-structured research paper, with sentences and paragraphs that flow well from one idea to the other. In a research paper, you need to state your findings and support them adequately. The moment you write your essay and move from one point to another without bridging it then you are likely to lose the meaning of your points or the reader might not understand you well.

Transitional Devices vs Transitional Words – The Difference

Just like transitional words, transitional devices are words used to show the connection between ideas or to move from one sentence to another. They show the link between sentences and paragraphs to bring out the ideas in a smooth and organized manner. You may find your work not flowing because they lack transitional words to link different parts of your essay.

Examples of transitional devices

There are two main types of transitional devices, they include conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs. They can be grouped according to their various uses.


Conjunctions are used to connect words or phrases. Below are some of the examples of conjunctions:

  1. Correlative conjunctions

These are pair of words that connect words, paragraphs of the same grammatical form.


Either… or

Neither… nor

Not only… but also

You either respect the law or face the consequences.

Not only did they clean the house but also did the laundry.

  1. Subordinating conjunctions.

They join passages which are not grammatically equivalent. They show the show the dependence in clauses.








So that

  1. Coordinating conjunctions

They are used to connect elements of a sentence which are of the same grammatical equivalence.


so, but, for, yet, and.

Elsy and Brian are in love. (and has been used to connect two nouns)

Conjunctive adverbs

These are used to modify an action by showing connectivity between points or paragraphs which are independent. In most cases they are not used at the start of a paragraph. Besides, they are used to show disparity, continuity and other relationship of ideas.

  1. Of addition/ inaddition


Besides, also, moreover, as well, too, etc.

Brio is rich as well as young.

  1. To show comparison


Similarly, like, as if

Peter is a boxer; similarly, his son job, is a boxer too.

  1. As a result of/ effect


Hence, thus, therefore etc.

The patient did not follow the doctor’s prescription; therefore, his situation got worse.

  1. For contrast or difference

Still, however, instead, nonetheless etc.

The students had a lot of time to finish their work; still, they could not finish it.

  1. Of time relationship


In conclusion, lastly, finally, next etc. Mix the flour with all the ingredients well; next, prepare the dough.

Synonyms can also be used as transitional words in your writing. Synonyms are words that have the same meaning and therefore you can use synonyms to bridge your points. Examples of synonyms include:  likewise, for similar, comprehend for understanding etc.

How to use transitional words and devices

Transitional words can be used in your essay in several instances:

  • To start your paragraphs- you can use transitional words to begin your essay or paragraphs.
  • To add something- you can easily add your points by use of transitional phrases.
  • To compare two different things- in research papers you will need to compare different versions and come up with the main point, and all this can be achieved through transitional words.
  • To prove something or support- you need to support your points in a research paper by use of transition words.
  • To indicate exemption
  • To show time frame
  • To repeat a point earlier said
  • To emphasize some points
  • To indicate sequence or flow
  • While stating examples
  • While concluding your work

It is very important for you to go through various samples of transitional devices because they help your work look more organized. Reading various transitional words may not be helpful if you do not apply them. In the application of transitional devices, you need to go through the work of other writers so that you can be able to understand when and how to apply different transitional devices in your essay. It is good to understand how to use transitional words in your essay. Transitional words usually serve to make your paper look more appealing because the reader can easily flow from the introduction to the body and finally the conclusion.


You can apply the transitional words in the introduction the body and the conclusion. In the introduction, you can use transitional devices such as ‘to start off with.’ When you mention that to the reader, they will be able to know that you are starting your work and this is applied mostly on the introduction, or you can use it in the introduction of a paragraph or point.

The body

When you are writing the body, you can use words such as ‘in addition to ‘to add up on your points. Conjunctions are mostly used in the body because it is at this point that you are focusing on the major points and supports for your essay.

The conclusion

The conclusion is usually the last part of your essay, and you need to employ the use of the transitional devices at this point because the reader has to know that you are coming to a completion. You can start your conclusion with words such as ‘To finish with.’ When you introduce your conclusion with transitional words, the reader would be prepared to come to an end and that would improve the flow of your work.

Importance of using transition words in your essay

  • It helps to navigate from one paragraph to another- transition words help the reader to understand that they are getting to another paragraph.
  • It improves the flow of your work- the flow of your essay is mainly dependent on the linkingfrom one point to another. You should know how to introduce your points and link them for the reader to be able to connect.
  • It adds up to your vocabulary- some of the transitional words are phrases that add flavour to your work and it makes the reader praise your work.
  • It differentiates different parts of your essay- when you employ the transition words wisely, you will be able to notify the reader that they are reading either the introduction of the body or the conclusion.
  • It helps in support of your points- in the body of research papers you need to state a point and support it for validation purposes. Transition words can help in the achievement of this easily and to the satisfaction of your readers.