Using Transition Words to Improve Writing

FREE Teaching Ideas & Activities for Using Transition Words to Improve Writing from Gay Miller @ Book Units Teacher

Transition words and phrases improve the flow of writing by linking ideas, sentences, and paragraphs. They show relationships that help readers understand thoughts and concepts. Transitions may connect, contrast, show cause/effect, indicate order, and a number of other relationships. Using transitions helps writing flow. Disconnected ideas are turned into a unified whole. They prepare readers for what is coming next.

Common Core

Common Core addresses transitional words in the writing standards.

Use a variety of transitional words and phrases to manage the sequence of events.

Use a variety of transitional words, phrases, and clauses to manage the sequence of events.

Use appropriate transitions to clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.

While the standards are quite similar throughout the grade levels, each level adds additional components students must master. Fourth and fifth graders should use transitions when writing a sequence; however, fifth-graders use clauses in addition to words and phrases. Sixth graders begin adding other types of relationships. Think cause/effect, compare/contrast, adding an example, and so on. 

Resource Booklet

FREE Teaching Ideas & Activities for Using Transition Words to Improve Writing from Gay Miller @ Book Units Teacher

Get the free eight-page resource booklet here.



This short eight-page resource booklet requires only two pieces of paper plus an optional cover to print yet will be a valuable reference guide for your students when writing.

The book may be printed and glued into an interactive notebook, in front of a writing journal, or dropped into a page protector sleeve and clipped into a three-ring binder. As students write, they can reference the organizer to find new words to use.

Using the Reference Booklet

Encourage students to use a variety of transition words. Sometimes two words and phrases mean exactly the same. Instead of repeating a phrase over and over, students can use slight variations. The word lists featured in the booklet will help students select alternate words and phrases to use. 

Type of Transition Words or Phrases to Use Example sentence
Sequencing/Order afterward My family went to see the play Shrek, afterward, we drove two hours to get back home.
Add an Idea furthermore;
in addition; besides
Recycling is good for our landfills; furthermore, it helps save natural resources.
Problems and Solutions consequently; as a result  Jane could argue for hours; consequently, it made more sense to submit to her wishes.
Summarizing in conclusion In conclusion, Sam asked his mother if she would like to visit the Grand Canyon.
To Give an Example specifically There is no reason to fear insects – specifically ladybugs that eat aphids and do not hurt humans.
in the same way There is no reason why an electrician should also be a good carpenter. In the same way, a carpenter can be a bad electrician.
For Emphasis undoubtedly The large size of the Ostrich is undoubtedly why it can’t fly.

Examples of How Transitions Can Clarify the Meaning

Example 1[Sequence]

Stephen picked up John before stopped by McDonald’s for lunch.|
Stephen picked up John after he stopped by McDonald’s for lunch

Example 2 [Add Information]

I eat green beans because they are healthy, but I hate them.

Example 3 [Contrast]

We went to the fair, in spite of the fact that the weather was too cold to make it fun.

Example 4 [Cause/Effect]

Because it is raining today, we are not going to school.
It is snowing today. As a result, we are not going to school.
It is snowing today. Consequently, we are not going to school.
It is snowing today. That is why, we are not going to school.
It is snowing today; therefore, we are not going to school.

Example 5 [Emphasis]

Meghan decided not to go to the beach. In fact, she told me, “No, way.”


I recommend showing this video to students. The narrator does an excellent job explaining why transition words are important. He uses several examples to illustrate his points making it a great addition to your lesson. 



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