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Achieving Coherence in Writing: Transition Words and Phrases

Among the many tasks facing a writer, one of the most important is to provide transitions that explain how ideas in a text are related to one another. Coherence in writing is the "logical glue" that allows readers to move easily and clearly from one idea to the next.

To achieve coherence, writers usually turn to conjunctions, adverbs, and prepositional phrases and clauses that function as adverbs. To make that task easier, we have compiled the following list of transitional words and phrases organized according to the logical connection, or transition, they indicate.

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You may find it helpful (as we do!) to keep this list posted near your keyboard, where you can see it easily when writing. We have chosen not to alphabetize the items in the lists because we want to discourage you from gravitating toward the word or phrase that may have already come into your mind rather than scanning the entire list to identify the one that best provides the "glue" you need.

The following set of lists is available as a printable PDF :

To indicate examples:

  • occasionally
  • usually
  • often
  • frequently, especially
  • specifically
  • principally
  • mainly
  • namely
  • significantly
  • indeed
  • for example, for instance
  • first of all
  • for one thing
  • most important, most importantly
  • to illustrate
  • in particular
  • in general
  • in this way, in this manner

To indicate comparison:

  • at the same time
  • in the same way
  • in a like manner
  • likewise
  • similarly
  • like
  • as

To indicate addition:

  • and
  • also
  • above all
  • further, furthermore
  • moreover
  • first, second, third . . .
  • next
  • other
  • besides
  • too
  • likewise
  • last
  • again
  • finally
  • in addition
  • in the second place, secondly
  • what is more
  • indeed
  • in fact

To indicate contrast:

  • although, even though, though
  • at the same time
  • and yet
  • conversely
  • however
  • but
  • in contrast
  • nevertheless, nonetheless
  • notwithstanding
  • on the one hand, on the other hand rather
  • still
  • yet
  • whereas
  • or
  • not
  • on the contrary

To indicate concession:

  • no doubt, doubtless, doubtlessly
  • surely
  • certainly
  • naturally
  • granted that
  • although this [noun] may be true
  • admittedly
  • I admit
  • one must admit
  • I concede
  • one must concede
  • after all

To indicate result:

  • therefore
  • for that reason
  • consequently, as a consequence
  • as a result
  • then
  • thus
  • so
  • hence

To indicate cause/reason:

  • because
  • since
  • for

To indicate repetition:

  • again
  • as has been pointed out
  • as I have pointed out, as I have mentioned
  • to repeat
  • in other words
  • again, once again
  • in fact
  • indeed
  • to recapitulate, to recap
  • to repeat

To indicate time:

  • before
  • after, afterward
  • earlier
  • formerly
  • later
  • subsequently
  • presently
  • soon
  • shortly
  • meanwhile
  • simultaneously
  • now
  • then
  • after a while
  • at last
  • finally
  • at that time
  • in the meantime
  • in the past
  • up to now, until now

To indicate place:

  • between
  • among
  • here, there
  • elsewhere
  • above, below, behind, beyond
  • on top of
  • next to
  • adjacent to
  • opposite from, opposite to
  • farther, farther on
  • in the background

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