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Transition (or linking) words and phrases are useful tools that allow us to better express ourselves in formal conversation, and especially in our writing. There are many examples of transition words and phrases, but here we’ll only be looking at a few of them. To get our brains working, let’s see a few examples of what we’ll be going over later: although, however, in spite of, on the whole, furthermore, moreover…the list goes on and on.

To start, let’s look at the word ‘although.’ This word is used when we want to present a contradiction. For example, if someone was born and raised in Paris, we would obviously expect them to speak French, wouldn’t we? So consider the following example:

~ Although he’s from Paris, he doesn’t speak French.

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The underlying logic of the sentence is that we are presented with a contradiction. The two facts we get in the sentence (he’s from Paris and he doesn’t speak French) are in opposition to one another.

‘Despite’ and ‘in spite of’ are used in the same way as ‘although,’ with the only difference being a grammatical one: we need to construct the sentence differently from how we would with ‘although.’ We follow these two phrases with either ‘the fact that’ or a gerund. For example:

~ Despite being from Paris, he doesn’t speak French.

~ In spite of the fact he’s from Paris, he doesn’t speak French.

The word ‘however’ communicates the same idea as ‘although:’ we use it to introduce a contrast to a previous statement. The important difference is that we normally use ‘however’ across two sentences. Let’s look at the same example, but using ‘however’ instead of ‘although:’

~ Fred is from Paris. However, he doesn’t speak French.

‘Furthermore’ and ‘moreover’ are both used in place of the word ‘also.’ Just like ‘however,’ we use these two words across two sentences, and we put them in the second sentence. The difference between the two is that we use ‘moreover’ when we want to say that the information in the second sentence is more important. Let’s take a look at some examples:

~ June is great at the guitar. Furthermore, she’s not half bad at the piano.

~ I love that store; they make such nice things! Moreover, their prices are low.

The expression ‘on the whole’ means the same as ‘in general.’ We can use it in basically any situation in which we would say ‘in general’ or ‘generally.’ For example:

~ There are certain aspects of life these days that one could say are more difficult than they were in the past. On the whole however, quality of life today is better than it was in the old days.

Obviously we haven’t discussed all the transition and linking words and phrases there are out there, but we’ve gone through a few examples that serve as a good place to start. Knowing how to properly use these words and phrases can elevate our compositions and help demonstrate that we have a solid grasp on our English.


A. Edstrom

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Alex Edstrom
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