GEOG 438W
Human Dimensions of Global Warming

Lesson 4 Writing Symposium: Transitions

PrintPrint

Two Types of Transitions: Logic and Thought

Transitions help the reader understand relationships between ideas and follow the discussion’s flow by providing signposts. Transitions can be words, such as "consequently," or phrases, such as "on the other hand." They are used between clauses, sentences, paragraphs or sections.

Transitions of logic

Transitions of logic are words or phrases that show logical connections between ideas. As such, they are an important element of good writing that should always be present. There many types of transitions of logic, each with different purposes. These include causality, intention, emphasis, and time. The table below offers examples of transitions of logic you should consider integrating into your writing.

Transitions of Logic
Intention Emphasis Time Causality
For this purpose Above all Afterward Accordingly
To this end Certainly At the same time Consequently
With this in mind Clearly In the meantime For this reason
  Indeed Later Hence
  In fact Simultaneously Therefore
  Obviously   Thus
  Of course    

Here is a paragraph with the transitions of logic highlighted:

In “Climate Change and Agriculture in the Mid-Atlantic Region,” Abler and Shortle (2000) investigate the potential impacts of climate on agriculture while looking at the potential impacts of agriculture on the environment. To do so, they explore varying regional scenarios of climate and of agriculture. The authors conclude that the impacts of climate change on agriculture probably will not be large in the Mid-Atlantic Region and, consequently, that costly adaptation strategies may not be necessary. Still, Abler and Shortle do recognize that some less costly adaptations may help the region’s farmers address the changing climate. They also suggest that it may be possible for these adaptations to help reduce environmental problems caused by agriculture. Thus, they are searching for “win-win” strategies for agriculture and the environment.

Transitions of thought

are words that help maintain continuity of thought from one sentence or paragraph to the next. There are four types of transitions of thought:

  • pronouns or possessive pronouns;
  • demonstrative adjectives
  • keyword repetition; and
  • synonyms.

Everybody is familiar with pronouns and possessive pronouns, but they might not be aware of their powerful role as transitions. The pronouns include:

Transitions of Thought
Pronouns Possessive Pronouns Demonstrative Adjectives
he, she, it his, her, hers this
we, they, us, them its, their, theirs these
him, her ours, our those
I, me, you my, mine (sometimes) that
  your, yours  
Example Sentences with Transitions of Thought
Using pronouns and possessive pronouns An example of transitions using a pronoun and possessive pronoun (highlighted) shows the links between these ideas:

Poor people tend to be vulnerable to climate change. They are not necessarily lazy or stupid. Their problem is lack of resources.
Demonstrative adjectives Demonstrative adjectives are simply demonstrative pronouns plus a clarifying noun. Most good writers seldom use demonstrative pronouns by themselves and almost always use demonstrative adjectives instead because a demonstrative pronoun is often ambiguous as to which noun it is referring. In contrast, demonstrative adjectives precisely identify the noun. For example, the statement “That is ridiculous” is ambiguous if you do not know what “that” refers to. The statement “That idea is ridiculous” more clearly denotes to what the demonstrative pronoun is referring. Putting this demonstrative adjective together with an idea demonstrates how to use it as a transition:

Some people think global warming is not happening. That idea is ridiculous.
Keyword repetition Keyword repetition means that the author repeats the word that is the discussion’s focus to denote relationships between ideas:

Many social groups are sensitive to climate change. They can be sensitive for many reasons, such as lack of money or low educational attainment.
Synonyms Synonyms allow an idea to expand and gain greater definition than by keyword repetition:

Climate change is a threat to public utilities. Community water systems will suffer from droughts, floods, and severe weather.

Here is the same paragraph shown earlier, but this time highlighting both the transitions of logic and transitions of thought (and their linked ideas):

In “Climate Change and Agriculture in the Mid-Atlantic Region,” Abler and Shortle (2000) investigate the potential impacts of climate on agriculture while looking at the potential impacts of agriculture on the environment. To do so, they explore varying regional scenarios of climate and of agriculture. The authors conclude that the impacts of climate change on agriculture probably will not be large in the Mid-Atlantic Region and, consequently, that costly adaptation strategies may not be necessary. Still, Abler and Shortle do recognize that some less costly adaptations may help the region’s farmers address the changing climate. They also suggest that it may be possible for these adaptations to help reduce environmental problems caused by agriculture. Thus, they are searching for “win-win” strategies for agriculture and the environment.

The main message in this writing symposium is that transitions are important to all writing, but the clearest writing relies on transitions to make sure the reader understands the relationships between thoughts and to make the writing flow smoothly. A secondary thought is that using transitions does not simply mean occasionally sticking transitions of logic (e.g., “thus” or “therefore”) into one’s writing, but good writing involves carefully and skillfully infusing transitions of logic and thought throughout any document.