Transitions (ESL)

What this handout is about

Logical connectors are often listed in categories like “contrast” with no further explanation; however, there are important, though subtle differences in how they signal relationships between ideas. This handout will help you choose the appropriate connector by explaining how some of the more common expressions function to connect ideas.

Contrast transitions

Expression

Function

Example

In contrast

Shows contrast between two comparable things

Synonymous with “but”

NOT synonymous with “despite this

Northern regions experienced record snowfall last year. In contrast, southern regions had one of the mildest winters on record.

NOT: I’ve had breakfast; in contrast, I’m still hungry.

However

Shows contrast between comparable things or between expectation and reality

Synonymous with “but” and “despite this”

Northern regions experienced record snowfall last year. However, southern regions had one of the mildest winters on record. (contrasting two similar things)

The research clearly shows the risks. However, incidence of smoking is increasing rapidly in developing countries. (contrasting expectation and reality)

I’ve had breakfast; however, I’m still hungry.

On the contrary

Opposition (not x but y).

Follows a negative statement and elaborates

The island was nothing like the tropical paradise we had expected. On the contrary, it was noisy, dirty, and completely unrelaxing!

(In academic writing, the phrase “contrary to” is far more common: Contrary to the tropical paradise we had expected, the island was noisy, dirty, and completely unrelaxing.)

On the other hand

Comparison of two choices or two sides of an issue

Buying lottery tickets is probably a waste of money. On the other hand, it might be the best investment you could ever make!

Nevertheless, Nonetheless

Shows contrast between expectation and reality

Synonymous with “but” and “despite this”

The research clearly shows the risks. Nevertheless, incidence of smoking is increasing rapidly in developing countries.

I’ve had breakfast; nevertheless, I’m still hungry.

Comparison of transitions of contrast

Shows contrast between two comparable things

Shows contrast between expectation and reality

Compares two choices or sides of an issue

Shows opposition (not X but Y). Follows negative statement.

Shows opposition. Does not follow a negative statement.

Synonymous with “but”

Synonymous with “despite this”

Contrary to

In contrast

However

Nevertheless

Nonetheless

On the contrary

On the other hand

Addition transitions

Expression

Function

Example

Also

Almost interchangeable with “and.” Prefers identical subjects and usually appears after the subject.

The community is working to meet the needs of its citizens. The Town Council has just authorized a new senior center for the elderly. It has also implemented new social programs for teens and will be discussing a pre-school program at the next meeting.

Furthermore

Usually used when three or more reasons (or premises) are given for the same conclusion

 

Moderate exercise has many beneficial effects. It lowers blood pressure, reduces weight, and improves overall muscle tone. Furthermore, it has the added benefit of releasing endorphins, generally improving the mood of those who exercise.

In addition, Additionally

More formal than “and.”  Used for joining sentences. Prefers non-identical subjects and appears before the subject.

The community is working to meet the needs of its citizens. The Town Council has just authorized a new senior center for the elderly. In addition, the Parks Department has instituted a summer arts program for teens.

In addition to

Use when adding a noun phrase to a sentence. Verbs in this phrase take the -ing form.

In addition to building a new senior center for the elderly, the community has implemented a free senior transportation system.

In addition to the new senior center, there is a new transportation system.

Moreover

Usually used when two or more reasons (or premises) are given for the same conclusion

The Senator’s remarks have outraged the liberals; moreover, they have alienated the conservatives. He will surely suffer in the next election.

Cause-Effect transitions

Expression

Function

Example

Consequently

Signals causal relationship

He was absent over 50% of the time and missed the final exam. Consequently, he failed the course.

Therefore

Signals causal relationship. Also signals a logical conclusion or reasonable inference.

He was absent over 50% of the time and missed the final exam. Therefore, he failed the course.

He has failed several courses this year. Therefore, I think it’s likely that he’ll change his major.

For this/that reason

Signals causal relationship when reason is explicitly stated.

She was an excellent intern last summer. For this reason, I’m willing to hire her for the new full-time position.

Hence, Thus

Same as “therefore” but more formal. Both of these can be used to introduce phrases rather than complete sentences.

The grant is nearing the end of its cycle. Thus we actively seeking funding.

The grant is nearing the end of its cycle. Hence, the search for new funding.

In that case

Signals a conditional relationship, like if->then

Water may reach flood stage by morning. In that case (if that happens), the National Guard will come to assist.


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