Transitions Make Your Sentences Spring to Life


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It’s late March, and I can see signs of spring everywhere I look. The dingy snow piles that lined our streets and highways in February have finally melted away. If I look closely, I can make out the first traces of tree pollen that will gradually coat our cars and outdoor furniture in a bright yellow film.

When I think about these signs of seasonal transition, I am reminded of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “Ode to the West Wind” and its famous last line: “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”

Of course, we all know that transitions are a vital part of life and can take place in various ways. For example, the movement of one season to the next, like the flow of days and years, happens in time.  Other transitions involve the movement through time and space. Think about your journey from home to school or work each day, or your movement from one room to another as you make your way through your house.


Our inContext resource shows six types of transitions.

Transitions are critical in writing as well. Well-chosen words and phrases help you logically connect ideas, sentences, and paragraphs. And like the transitions we all notice in the natural world or in our daily lives, transitions in writing clarify matters of time, space, rank, or relationship (comparison, cause and effect).

Several resources in SAS Curriculum Pathways help students understand the importance of using effective transitions in their essays. In the writing section of inContext, for example, students can explore six different categories of transitions.

For each category, students review sentences that show how transitions make logical connections. They can then demonstrate their learning by creating their own model sentences.

Writing Drafter targets areas where transitions might be needed.

Writing Drafter targets areas where transitions might be needed.

Writing Navigator, our suite of writing tools, targets places in students’ writing where transitions might be useful. In Writing Drafter, these locations are highlighted. Students make judgments about whether transitions are needed and, if so, what categories can be applied to make logical connections.

A poorly written paragraph can be like a new car covered in a cloud of pine pollen. You know there’s a beautiful car parked there in your driveway, but you’ll need a bucket of soapy water and some elbow grease to make it sparkle again. And if you want to make your cloudy sentences sparkle, try soaping them up with some great transitions and watch them begin to glow.

To learn more about using transitions, check out Connectives: Using Prepositions and Conjunctions.


About Author

Terry Hardison

Terry Hardison oversees the development of English language arts resources for Curriculum Pathways. Prior to joining SAS, Terry worked for 21 years as a teacher and as a district-level English language arts supervisor.

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