Transitions | St. Lawrence University WORD Studio


You can create transitions between or within paragraphs in several ways; the simplest is to use the words or phrases below. These words and phrases are called conjunctions (they make a junction between clauses—which are complete thoughts with a subject and verb) and transitional phrases. Conjunctions and transitional phrases come in several types, which are punctuated differently.

Coordinating Conjunctions
Coordinating conjunctions join two independent clauses; use a comma before the conjunction

and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet

Example: He wanted to buy his wife a new pair of shoes, but the stores were all closed.

Subordinating Conjunctions
Subordinating conjunctions make a previously complete sentence or independent clause into a subordinate clause. Although subordinate clauses have a subject and verb, they are incomplete as sentences and depend on a main clause for complete meaning. Either the main or subordinating clause can come first in a sentence; the subordinating conjunctions stay with the subordinate clause. If the subordinate clause comes first, follow it with a comma.

after, although, as, as if, because, before, even though, if, since, so that, than, that, though, unless, until, when, where, whereas, whether, while

Example: He wanted to buy his wife a new pair of shoes although she had always hated his taste. Although his wife had always hated his taste, he wanted to buy her a new pair of shoes.

Conjunctive Adverbs and Transitional Phrases
Conjunctive adverbs and other transitional phrases can begin sentences (in which case they are followed with a comma) or being independent clauses (use a semicolon before and a comma after). They can also come in the middle of a clause, in which case you place commas on both sides.

Conjunctive adverbs: accordingly, also, anyway, besides, certainly, consequently, conversely, finally, furthermore, hence, however, incidentally, indeed, instead, likewise, meanwhile, moreover, nevertheless, next, nonetheless, otherwise, similarly, specifically, still, subsequently, then, therefore, thus

Transitional phrases: after all, as a matter of face, as a result, at any rate, at the same time, even so, for example, for instance, in addition, in conclusion, in fact, in other words, in the first place, on the contrary, on one hand…on the other hand

His wife had always hated his taste; nevertheless, he insisted on buying her a new pair of shoes every Christmas. (Conjunctive adverb joining two independent clauses with semicolon and comma)
He couldn’t decide whether to buy his wife a new pair of shoes. At the same time, he was debating a divorce. (Transitional phrase beginning a sentence, introduced by a comma)
Their marriage was rapidly deteriorating; he did, however, insist on buying her new shoes every Christmas. (Conjunctive adverb in the middle of a clause, surrounded by commas)