For VOA Learning English, this is Everyday Grammar.
Today we are going to talk about important transition words in English. We will focus on how to use transition words to link ideas together. Some common transition words are and, furthermore, in addition to, not to mention, and in the same way.
Transition words are especially important in writing. They help you give more information with fewer words. When used skillfully, transition words can make your writing clearer and more concise.
Here’s an example. Listen to these three short sentences:
Twenty minutes passed. We were standing. We were at the bus stop.
As separate sentences, they could be related or unrelated ideas. Let’s combine them into one sentence using the transition word and and the adverb still.
Twenty minutes passed, and we were still standing at the bus stop.
Notice how andclarifies the relationship among the three ideas. It shows that these three ideas belong together.
Andbelongs to a group of transition words called coordinators.
Coordinators combine ideas of equal value, or weight. Here are some more examples.
Cellular phones help us stay connected and allow us to find information easily.
The politician said he would raise taxes, and he promised to reveal the details of his plan.
In addition, moreover, furthermore
In addition, moreover,and furthermoreare good alternatives to and. Here are some examples.
My new phone runs apps quickly; in addition, it takes great pictures.
Our new teacher is highly qualified. Moreover, she is friendly and down-to-earth.
The restaurant had slow service; furthermore, it was very expensive.
Sometimes you want to add and emphasize information. In factis a good coordinator for stressing a detail. For example:
Children perform better in positive environments; in fact, most people react similarly.
Notice that the first sentence is about children, while the second is about people in general. In facthelps the writer move from specific to general information. You can also use in factto move from general to specific information, as in this example.
Schools are moving toward project-based learning; in fact, my son’s school just adopted a new project-based program.
In this second example, the writer begins talking about schools in general and then gives an example. You can use as a matter of fact and indeed in the same way.
Using the semicolon (;)
Did you notice the punctuation mark that looks like a mix between a colon and a comma? This is called the semicolon. You have the option of using a semicolon when you have two complete sentences that are closely related. Semicolons often confuse native speakers. They are not required; you can also just use a period.
In addition to
In addition and in addition toare used to add information. But they have different sentence structures. In addition tois a subordinator. Subordinators show that one idea is more important than another. For example:
Cellular phones help us stay connected in addition to allowing us to find information easily.
In this example, the main clause of the sentence -- “Cellular phones help us stay connected” -- is more important than the subordinate clause of the sentence, “in addition to allowing us to find information easily.” The subordinate clause cannot stand alone as a sentence.
In addition tocan be followed by a gerundor a noun phrase. Here are two more examples:
In addition to providing medicine and food, volunteers handed out clothes.
A gerund is when the “-ing” form of a verb acts like a noun. The gerund phrase in this sentence is providing medicine and food.
In addition to medicine and food, volunteers handed out clothes.
In this sentence, the noun phrase is medicine and food.
In the same way, not to mention
Other useful subordinators include in the same wayand not to mention. Both have a similar meaning to also. They introduce subordinate clauses. For example:
Egyptian youth demonstrated against their government in the same way that young people in Brazil have demonstrated.
For a more conversational tone, you can use not to mentionto add information. For example:
Congress did not get any bills passed today, not to mention that many representatives did not even show up.
Proceed with caution
This is only an introduction to transition words and phrases. We will cover more of these in a future episode of Everyday Grammar.
Transition words can be a great way to express ideas in a concise and sophisticatedway, especially in writing. Next time you read a news article or a textbook in English, look for some of these transition words and think about how they are used.
English learners sometimes force too many transition words into their writing. Start off slowly with simple transition words that you really understand. Not every paragraph requires a transition. With years of practice, you will start to use them in a more natural way.
I’m John Russell. I’m Jill Robbins. And I'm Adam Brock.
Words in This Story
coordinator– n. a part of speech that connects words, sentences, phrases, or clauses
subordinator– n. a word that introduces a surordinate clause, a group of words that cannot stand alone as a sentence.
semicolon– n. a punctuation mark (;) indicating a pause, typically between two main clauses, that is more pronounced than that indicated by a comma
gerund – n. the –ing form of a vern that functions like a noun
sophisticated– adj. having or showing a lot of experience and knowledge about the world and about culture, art, literature, etc.