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Common English Transition Words and Phrases

Common English Transition Words and Phrases
Common English Transition Words and Phrases

As a “part of speech,” Common English transition words and phrases are used to link words, phrases or sentences. They help the reader to progress from one idea. Thus, they help to build up coherent relationships within the text.

Common English Transition Words and Phrases

The table below contains some common English transition words and phrases. All of them are explained with examples to be useful for ESL learners.

Transition Words and Phrases


Adding Information

  • and not only . . .
  • but also
  • also
  • moreover (more formal)
  • furthermore (more formal) in
  • addition (more formal)
  • We have seen the movie twice, and now we want to see it again.
  • Not only did my brother break his leg, but he also bruised his rib.
  • My friend speaks Korean and English. She also speaks Chinese.
  • Cheating is dishonest. Moreover, it hinders students from learning.
  • Students should be on time. Furthermore, they must be prepared.
  • You must complete this essay by 5 p.m. In addition, you must do the exercises on page 47.
Giving Examples

  • for example
  • for instance
  • specifically
  • in particular
  • The first (second, another, etc.) example/reason is . . .
  • I have been to many countries. For example, I have been to Russia, Canada, Mexico, and Spain.
  • He often eats strange foods. For instance, he once ate cow brains.
  • I like to travel. Specifically, I enjoy places with old cathedrals.
  • I love fruit. In particular, I like bananas, pineapple, and berries.
  • My friend hates skiing for several reasons. The first reason is that she dislikes being cold. Another reason is that she often falls.
Showing a Contrast

  • but
  • however
  • on the other hand
  • otherwise
  • instead
  • in contrast (more formal)
  • Bill earned an A on his essay,but Susan got a B.
  • We wanted to leave at 8:00. However, Mike arrived too late.
  • She hates housecleaning. On the other hand, she doesn’t mind cooking.
  • Students should attend class. Otherwise, they may lose their status.
  • I am not going out tonight. Instead, I will stay home and watch a video.
  • Women usually enjoy shopping. In contrast, men often dislike it.
Showing a Concession

  • yet
  • nevertheless (more formal)
  • even so
  • however
  • although
  • even though
  • despite the fact that . . .
  • despite
  • He knows that he should do his homework, yet he never does it.
  • I need to wear reading glasses. Nevertheless, I hate how I look in them.
  • I know you don’t like to study. Even so, you must pass your exam.
  • There are many benefits to exercising. However, you must take some precautions to avoid injury.
  • Even though the book is difficult to read, it is very interesting.
  • Although the book is difficult to read, it is very interesting.
  • Despite the fact that Kate is good at tennis, she lost the match.
  • Despite Kate’s skill at tennis, she lost the match.
Showing a Similarity

  • likewise (more formal)
  • similarly (more formal)
  • in the same way
  • Math was hard for me in high school. Likewise, it is hard in college.
  • Houseplants require much care and attention. Similarly, outdoor plants must be cared for properly.
  • Rock climbing takes much practice and skill. In the same way, learning to write well requires a great deal of practice.
Showing a Result

  • so
  • as a result
  • therefore
  • thus (more formal)
  • as a consequence
  • consequently (more formal)
  • Janet passed her exam, so she is very happy.
  • Tim was late. As a result, we could not go to the concert.
  • James is not feeling well. Therefore, he will not be here today.
  • The committee voted against the proposal. Thus, we must consider another idea.
  • I forgot that the cake was in the oven. As a consequence, it burned.
  • Tina lost her keys. Consequently, she could not drive home.
Establishing Time Relation or Sequence

  • first
  • second
  • finally
  • in conclusion
  • in summary
  • meanwhile
  • First, I think that she is studying hard.
  • Second, I believe that she is a bright student.
  • Finally, I know that she has great potential.
  • In conclusion, I feel that she deserves to win the scholarship.
  • In summary, we should offer her some financial help.
  • Jeff was working hard to clean the house. Meanwhile, his brother was watching television.
Showing a Condition

  • or
  • whether . . . or
  • if . . . (then)
  • I must study hard, or I will fail my exam.
  • Whether you are coming or not, I am still going to Amy’s party.
  • If you want to get good grades, then you must do your homework.
Explaining or Emphasizing

  • in fact
  • actually
  • in other words
  • namely (more formal)
  • The bookstore sells cards. In fact, they have the best cards around.
  • James is actually the first person I have known who has been to Africa.
  • He was late to class again. In other words, he didn’t wake up on time.
  • The plan needed only two things to succeed—namely, time and money.
Giving an Alternative

  • or
  • either . . . or
  • neither . . . nor (more formal)
  • We can go to the beach, or we can go to the mountains.
  • You can either ride the bus or walk to my apartment.
  • I like neither that person nor his brother.

Punctuation Rules

1. Coordinating Conjunctions (and, but, or, yet, so): Put a comma before these conjunctions. (Don’t use them at the beginning of a sentence in more formal writing.)

  • The movie has already started, but my friend has not arrived yet.

2. Correlative Conjunctions (These have two parts: either . . . or):
Put a comma before the second part if it connects 2 clauses (complete sentences).

  • Eric is not only an outstanding teacher, but he is also a gourmet cook.

You don’t need a comma if it only connects words or phrases.

  • Common English Transition Words and Phrases is not only important for ESL learners to learn but also to use them in their speaking and writing.

3. The position of Transitional Words and Phrases in sentences :

  • Put a comma after the transition word if it is used at the beginning of the second sentence.
    Example: I like to travel. Specifically, I enjoy places with a lot of greenery.
  • Use a semicolon before the transition word and a comma after it to connect two sentences.
    Example: I like to travel; specifically, I enjoy places with a lot of greenery.
  • Use a comma before and after the transitional word/phrase in the middle of a clause.
    Example: I like to travel. I, specifically, enjoy places with a lot of greenery.
  • Use a comma before the transition word if it is used at the end of the second sentence
    Example: I like to travel. I enjoy places with a lot of greenery, specifically.

Related posts

Kinds of Conjunctions


Rules For Using Gerunds and Infinitives


Independent and Dependent Clauses


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