Transition signals

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Transition signals are useful in achieving good cohesion and coherence in your writing. This page gives information on what transition signals are, the grammar of transition signals, and different types of transition signals. There is also an example essay at the end in which you can highlight the different types of transition signal, as well as some exercises to help you practice this area.

What are transition signals?

Transition signals, along with repeated words and reference words, are one of the main ways to achieve good cohesion and coherence in your writing. They are therefore a way to help ensure that your ideas and sentences cohere or 'stick together'. Transition signals are used to signal relationships between ideas in your writing. For example, the transition signal 'for example' is used to give examples, while the word 'while' is used to show a contrast. In addition, there are phrases like 'in addition' for adding new ideas. Likewise there are words such as 'likewise' to connect similar ideas.

Grammar of transition signals

Broadly speaking, transition signals can be divided into three types:

Sentence connectors are used to connect two sentences together. They are joined by a full-stop (period) or semi-colon, and are followed by a comma. The following are examples of sentence connectors.

  • Transition signals are very useful. However, they should not be used to begin every sentence.
  • Transition signals are very useful; however, they should not be used to begin every sentence.
  • Contrast signals are one type of transition signals. In addition, there are others such as compare signals and addition signals.
  • There are three main ways to improve cohesion in your writing. First, you can use transition signals.

Clause connectors are used to connect two clauses together to form one sentence. They are joined by a comma. The following are examples of clause connectors.

  • Transition signals are very useful, but they should not be used to begin every sentence.
  • Although transition signals are very useful, they should not be used to begin every sentence.
  • Contrast signals are one type of transition signal, and there are others such as compare signals and addition signals.

Other connectors follow different grammar patterns. Many are followed by noun phrases. Some are verbs and should therefore be used as verbs in a sentence. The following are examples of other connectors.

  • Despite their importance in achieving cohesion, transition signals should not be used to begin every sentence.
  • Good cohesion is the result of using repeated words, reference words, and transition signals.
  • It is clear that careful use of transition signals will improve the cohesion in your writing.
  • Contrast signals are one type of transition signal. Another type is comparison signals.

Types of transition signals

Below are examples of different types of transition signals. They are divided by type, and sub-divided according to grammar.

To introduce an additional idea

Sentence connectors

  • also
  • besides
  • furthermore
  • in addition
  • moreover
  • additionally

Clause connectors

  • and
  • nor


  • another (+ noun)
  • an additional (+ noun)

To compare

Sentence connectors

  • likewise
  • similarly
  • equally
  • in the same way

Clause connectors

  • and
  • both... and
  • not only... but also
  • neither... nor
  • just as


  • as... as
  • like/alike
  • just like
  • to be similar to
  • to be alike
  • to be similar

To contrast

Sentence connectors

  • however
  • in contrast
  • instead
  • in/by comparison
  • nevertheless
  • nonetheless
  • on the other hand
  • on the contrary
  • still

Clause connectors

  • but
  • yet
  • although
  • even though
  • though
  • whereas
  • while


  • despite (+ noun)
  • in spite of (+ noun)
  • compared to/with
  • to be different (from)
  • to be dissimilar
  • to be unlike
  • to differ (from)

To introduce a cause/reason

Sentence connectors

  • for this reason

Clause connectors

  • for
  • because
  • since
  • as


  • to result from
  • to be the result of
  • due to
  • because of
  • to be the effect of
  • to be the consequence of
  • as a result of
  • as a consequence of

To introduce an effect/result

Sentence connectors

  • as a result
  • as a consequence
  • consequently
  • hence
  • thus
  • therefore

Clause connectors

  • so


  • to result in
  • to cause
  • to have an effect on
  • to affect
  • the cause of
  • the reason for

To give an example

Sentence connectors

  • for example
  • for instance
  • in this case



  • such as (+ noun)
  • like
  • an example of (+ noun)
  • to demonstrate

To show chronological order

Sentence connectors

  • first, second, etc.
  • first of all
  • then
  • next
  • now
  • then
  • soon
  • last
  • finally
  • previously
  • meanwhile
  • gradually
  • after that
  • since
  • then

Clause connectors

  • after
  • as
  • as soon as
  • before
  • since
  • until
  • when
  • while


  • the first, the second
  • the next, the last, the final
  • before (lunch etc.)
  • after (the war etc.)
  • since (1970 etc.)
  • in the year (2000 etc.)

To show order of importance

Sentence connectors

  • above all
  • first and foremost
  • more/most importantly
  • primarily



  • a more important
  • the most important
  • the second most significant
  • the primary

To show an alternative

Sentence connectors

  • alternatively
  • otherwise

Clause connectors

  • or
  • if
  • unless


To identify or clarify

Sentence connectors

  • that is
  • in other words
  • specifically



  • namely
  • i.e.

To reinforce

Sentence connectors

  • in fact
  • indeed
  • of course
  • clearly



To conclude

Sentence connectors

  • all in all
  • in brief
  • in conclusion
  • in short
  • in summary



  • to summarise
  • to conclude
  • It is clear that...
  • We can see that...
  • The evidence suggests...
  • These examples show...

Example essay

Below is an example essay. It is the one used in the persuasion essay section. Click on the different areas (in the shaded boxes to the right) to highlight the different types of transition signal in this essay.

Title: Consider whether human activity has made the world a better place.


History shows that human beings have come a long way from where they started. They have developed new technologies which means that everybody can enjoy luxuries they never previously imagined. However, the technologies that are temporarily making this world a better place to live could well prove to be an ultimate disaster due to, among other things, the creation of nuclear weapons, increasing pollution, and loss of animal species.

The biggest threat to the earth caused by modern human activity comes from the creation of nuclear weapons. Although it cannot be denied that countries have to defend themselves, the kind of weapons that some of them currently possess are far in excess of what is needed for defence. If these weapons were used, they could lead to the destruction of the entire planet.

Another harm caused by human activity to this earth is pollution. People have become reliant on modern technology, which can have adverse effects on the environment. For example, reliance on cars causes air and noise pollution. Even seemingly innocent devices, such as computers and mobile phones, use electricity, most of which is produced from coal-burning power stations, which further adds to environmental pollution. If we do not curb our direct and indirect use of fossil fuels, the harm to the environment may be catastrophic.

Animals are an important feature of this earth and the past decades have witnessed the extinction of a considerable number of animal species. This is the consequence of human encroachment on wildlife habitats, for example deforestation to expand human cities. Some may argue that such loss of species is natural and has occurred throughout earth's history. However, the current rate of species loss far exceeds normal levels, and is threatening to become a mass extinction event.

In summary, there is no doubt that current human activities such as the creation of nuclear weapons, pollution, and destruction of wildlife, are harmful to the earth. It is important for us to see not only the short-term effects of our actions, but their long-term effects as well. Otherwise, human activities will be just another step towards destruction.

Transition signals


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Below is a checklist for transition signals. Use it to check your own writing, or get a peer (another student) to help you.

Item OK? Comment
There is good use of transition signals, without being overused (not every sentence!)
The grammar is correct (e.g. using sentence connectors to join sentences with a full-stop (period), using clause connectors to join two clauses, using other connectors correctly e.g. 'due to' + noun)
There are different types of transition signal

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Sheldon Smith

Author: Sheldon Smith    ‖    Last modified: 30 October 2019.

Sheldon Smith is the founder and editor of He has been teaching English for Academic Purposes since 2004. Find out more about him in the about section and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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