Transitions in Sentences

Tip: Create sentence transitions.

In the same way that paragraphs need transitions to help the reader understand their relevance, sentences need transitions. Actually, every sentence is a transition from the previous sentence to the next. This means that a sentence will refer to the information in the previous sentence and provides clues about what the next sentence will address.

Escher's "Day and Night"

Escher's "Day and Night"

To create transitions, the words near the beginning of a sentence must relate to the topic or idea of the previous sentence, and the words near the end must relate to the topic or idea discussed in the next sentence. These transitions show the relevance of information in a sentence and help tie multiple ideas together into a cohesive whole idea.

Let’s look at an example.

  1. The operant conditioning chamber was first developed by Skinner while he was a graduate student at Harvard University.
  2. He used the chamber to study the effect of inputs on rats.
  3. Various devices in the chamber provided inputs that, over time, ‘taught’ the rats to behave in predictable ways.

Consider sentence two. The words “chamber” and “study” refer to the operant conditioning chamber and Skinner as a graduate student, respectively, which are discussed in sentence one. The word “inputs” refers to the topic of inputs in the third sentence.

In this way, sentence two provides a transition from sentence one to sentence three while adding new content.(This is Tip 34 in the Writing Tips for a Year series. Subscribe to receive all 365 tips–a new tip every day for a year delivered to your e-mail inbox. See the link on the right side of this page.)

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