No matter what you’re writing, your piece has to be coherent. Readers should be able to easily progress from one sentence to another and one paragraph to the next without losing the train of thought within the text.
Transitional devices connect the ideas within your text and allow them to flow smoothly from one to the next. Among these techniques are the use of pronouns, repetition of key words or ideas, parallelism, etc.
Pronouns can help you link preceding and subsequent sentences. In the example below, the sentences are linked by the pronouns they and their.
Widget providers accredited by ABC must submit annual reports of their activities. They also undergo self-studies, agree to evaluations by external review teams and regularly update their improvement plans; their adherence to those stringent rules is rewarded by permission to use the ABC seal of approval on their products and website.
Repeated Words, Phrases or Ideas
Another way to link sentences and paragraphs is through repetition. This device is particularly useful for speech writing because it also adds emphasis to that particular section of text.
Take, for example, the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. In addition to the well-known “I have a dream” excerpt, the speech also contains this repetition example:
Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
Transitional expressions, also called transitional connectives, take many forms. The list below includes just some of the options for connecting sentences and/or paragraphs.
- For this purpose
- In other words
- In brief
- For example
- In fact
This technique consists of using the same sentence pattern or other grammatical structure. In the example below, the sentences are structured in the same way:
At nine in the morning, you’re certain that you’ll finish that project in no time at all. At one in the afternoon, you’re hoping that the phone will stop ringing long enough for you to make decent headway. At six in the evening, you’re wondering where the day went.
If you find that you’ve been relying heavily on one type of transitional device, trying using a one or two of the others mentioned here in your next piece.