You can use words or short phrases which help to guide your reader through your writing, and to link sentences, paragraphs and sections both forwards and backwards. Good use will make what you have written easy to follow; bad use might mean your style is disjointed, probably with too many short sentences, and consequently difficult to follow. Your mark could be affected either way.
The best way to "get a feel" for these words is through your reading. Most textbooks and articles are well-written and will probably include a lot of these cohesive devices. Note how they are used and try to emulate what you have read. Do make sure though that you fully understand their meaning: incorrect use could change completely what you're trying to say. Try to use a variety of expressions, particularly in longer pieces of writing.
Don't forget "AND"! Two short sentences are often best connected together with this little word.
There follows a list of words and phrases that can be used. The list is not exhaustive, and BE CAREFUL: although grouped together, none is totally synonymous. Their position in the sentence can also vary; this is where your reading and dictionary come in.
Listing Giving examples Generalising
first, second, third for example in general
first, furthermore, finally for instance generally
to begin, to conclude as follows: on the whole
next that is as a rule
Reinforcement in this case for the most part
also namely in most cases
furthermore in other words usually
moreover Result/consequence Highlighting
what is more so in particular
in addition therefore particularly
besides as a result/consequence especially
above all accordingly mainly
as well (as) consequently Reformulation
in the same way because of this/that in other words
not only ... but also thus rather
Similarity hence to put it more simply
equally for this/that reason Expressing an alternative
likewise so that alternatively
similarly in that case rather
correspondingly under these circumstances on the other hand
in the same way Deduction the alternative is
Transition to new point then another possibility would be
now, in other words Contrast
as far as x is concerned in that case instead
with regard/reference to otherwise conversely
as for ... this implies that ... on the contrary
it follows that if so/not in contrast
turning to Stating the obvious in comparison
Summary obviously Concession (sth unexpected)
in conclusion clearly however
to conclude naturally even though
in brief of course however much
to summarise as can be expected nevertheless
overall surely still
therefore after all yet
Here are just a few examples of some of the words in action:
Desktop computers are cheaper and more reliable than laptops; furthermore, they are more flexible.
Prices fell by more than 20% last year. As a result, sales increased by 15%.
On the whole, his speech was well received, despite some complaints from new members.
The South East of the UK often has the coldest weather in the winter. Conversely, the North West of Scotland frequently has the mildest temperatures.
It was a very expensive holiday, the weather was bad and the people weren’t very friendly. Nevertheless, we would probably go back to the same place.
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Transition word exercise
Always ask yourself what the exact relationship is between the sentences or parts of sentences. Are you leading to the result of something? Are you making a deduction? Are you introducing some contradictory evidence or ideas? Your choice of word or phrase obviously depends on this. And always check in a good dictionary if you're not quite sure about a word's use or its position in a sentence. Remember that punctuation will affect what you use.
Insert the best alternative
1 Polls show that Tony Blair is the most popular Prime Minister this century. ______________ , there are even members of his own party who are uneasy with his approach.
In particular However For instance
2 There are some slight variations in temperature, but ________________ 26 to 27ºC should be expected.
consequently otherwise as a rule
3 The two main Channel Islands, ________________ Jersey and Guernsey, are much closer to France than to England.
for example namely in particular
4 It was announced that nurses' working hours would be increased by 25%. ______________ , even fewer trainee nurses are expected to join the profession.
As a result So that Likewise
5 Sales of CDs have experienced a small but steady fall over the past 12 months. _____________ , vinyl records have seen an increase in their share of the market, up to 1.7%.
Above all Correspondingly In contrast
6 The Vice Chancellor explained that in light of the current financial climate and because of unexpected bad debts, it would be necessary to peg salary levels at their current level for all grades of staff. ______________ , no-one was getting a pay rise.
Nevertheless In other words Similarly
7 It is clear, therefore, that the situation in Brazil will improve only slowly. ______________ the economic problems being experienced in Japan, the outlook is slightly more optimistic.
Furthermore In comparison With reference to
8 In order to try to reduce car use in the inner cities, the government has announced new restrictions on company parking spaces and ______________ , a new tax on individual car use.
as well as in addition in the same way
9 Essays must be handed in by the deadline, ______________ they will not be marked.
obviously otherwise as a result
10 ______________ it has been shown that fractures can occur at even relatively low pressures, the use of the material should not be completely discounted.
Nevertheless Because Even though