When to use transition words
Students can use transition expressions in a few settings. For day-to-day IB essays and extended response, students will likely use them within and between paragraphs. For lengthier essays and reports- like the internal assessments and extended essays– students may require to use transitions between sections of the paper.
While the general function of transition words remains the same, the objective differs slightly.
Transition within paragraphs
Within paragraphs, transition words can either be used sandwiched between two sentences or written within a sentence.
- Primary energy is energy that is available but has not been processed in any way. On the other hand, secondary energy is energy that has become available due to processing.
- Metals loses electrons to form actions whereas nonmetals gain electrons to form anions.
Regardless of when it’s used, the transition expression highlights how the ideas relate to each other. These relationships are usually contained to the main idea of the paragraph.
Using transition between paragraphs
When used between paragraphs, they are more commonly found at the start of a paragraph than at the end of one.
Here, they refer to information that has been established in the preceding paragraph. It also indicates how the ideas of the paragraph will link to prior paragraphs. Generally, this will follow one of the four transitions: additive, adversative, causal, and sequential.
The last paragraph would be an exception. As the final paragraph concludes the discussion, the transition word serves a summative function.
How to use transitions
1. Use them sparingly
Imagine driving down a road lined with traffic lights. After every metre, you have to stop because the traffic light has turned red. Frustrating, isn’t it?
The same happens when transitions are overused. Instead of enhancing the flow of ideas, it interrupts it. This makes the essay feel choppy and hard to follow.
A good rule of thumb for students to follow is to use transitions when they want to make an important point. This draws emphasis to the point and makes it appear more significant.
2. Use them appropriately
Different categories of transition words have their unique uses. Misusing a transition can cause confusion. For example, using the causal linking word ‘therefore’ when the student’s intent was to elaborate on a preceding idea. In this instance, the writer should use an additive transition expression.
Appropriate and precise usage is not limited to the broader categories. Even within individual categories, it is essential for students to understand the nuances of each words. To illustrate its importance, let us consider the implications when a student use the expressions ‘as well as’ and ‘and’ interchangeably in their essay.
At surface level, interchanging the two expressions do not seem problematic. They function similarly and students often consider them to be synonyms.
However, when students use one for the other, the meaning of the sentence changes. When the student uses ‘and’, it conveys that the presented ideas are of equal importance. On the contrary, ‘as well as’ implicates that the information that follows is less significant than that which precedes.
Therefore, before deciding on which transition to use, students should pause and consider the logical connection they want to establish between the two ideas.
3. Position them correctly
It is easy to assume that all transitions behave similarly, especially if they are in the same category. On the contrary, transitions each have their own behaviour quirks.
Take for instance ‘but’ and ‘however’. Both are adversative transitions used to establish contrast. Despite the similar function, they differ in the position they can grammatically take in a sentence.
While students can use ‘however’ both at the start and middle of a sentence, they can only use ‘but’ in the middle of a sentence.