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Organizing Ideas

Transitional Words and Phrases

Transitional words and phrases are just one way to connect your ideas. Use these expressions only when necessary, usually between two related independent clauses. In most cases, you should explain the relationship between ideas.

These words and phrases, according to their meaning and grammar, are not all used in the same way. For example, “but” is a coordinating conjunction, but “however” is a conjunctive adverb. This difference matters for punctuation and sentence structure.

Sentence Pattern 1

CC - Structure for Coordinating Conjunction (CC) (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)

_______________ CC ________________.
Independent clause independent clause

(See APA, “4.03 Comma,” 2010, p. 89).

Example

Participants in this study were recently diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, and they indicated that they engaged in less than two-hours of exercise each week.

Sentence Pattern 2

SC - Structure for Subordinating Conjunction (SC) (because, while, even though, etc.)

(a) _______________ ,SC ________________.
Independent clause dependent clause

(b) SC_______________ , ________________.
Dependent clause independent clause

Example (a)

_______________ , SC ________________.
Independent clause dependent clause

Many patients with chronic health conditions do not participate in despite evidence that exercise has a beneficial impact on health.

Example (b)

SC_______________ , ________________.
Dependent clause independent clause

Despite evidence that exercise has a beneficial impact on health, many patients with chronic health conditions do not participate in exercise.

Sentence Pattern 3

T - Structure for Transitional word or phrase (however, therefore, for example, similarly, although, because, so, but, etc.)

(a) _______________; T, ___________________.
Independent clause independent clause

(b) T,_______________________________.
independent clause

Example (a)

_______________; T, ________________.
Independent clause independent clause

Patients reported that they understood the benefits of exercise; however, most reported cultural values and their roles and responsibilities as barriers to participation.

Example (b)

T, _______________________________.
independent clause

Similary, Chowdhury et al. (2013) found that a considerable proportion of all cardiovascular disease events could be attributed to poor adherence to vascular medications.1

To add information, ideas

and (CC)

in addition (T)

furthermore (T)

as well as – (not a conjunction). Use between two grammatically parallel elements, never at the beginning of a sentence (e.g., Correct: Using unfamiliar words as well as providing too much information may confuse some patients. Not: As well as that, some patients may become confused by unfamiliar words.

also – Do not use this word as a transition at the beginning of a sentence. Use it before a verb (e.g., Correct: The results also showed.... Not: Also,the results showed....)

not only ... but also - (Adverb). Special sentence structure applies. Example: In person-centered treatment, it is not only important to understand the cause of the problem in the past, but also the here and now of the patient’s present.2

(Messenger et al., The Canadian Writer’s Guide, “Correlative Conjunctions,” pp. 206-207).

another - determiner. Use before a noun or noun phrase. Example: Rational-emotive therapy (RET) is another form of cognitive therapy that is becoming increasingly popular.2




To summarize or repeat

in brief/in short (T)

in summary (T)

in other words (T)

as noted/stated (T)

as previously stated (T)

in general (T)




To give examples

for instance (T)

for example (T)

to illustrate (T)

specifically (T)

such as - Special case – this word is a determiner. Do not use a comma if the information after “such as” is essential; do use a comma if the information after “such as” can be removed without changing your meaning.


To compare

similarly (T)

likewise (T)




To point out

regarding (prepostion)

concerning (prepostion) followed by a noun or noun-phrase




To show cause and effect

so (CC) - do not start a sentence with this word and do not use a comma after it.

because (SC) – The “result” is placed in the independent clause: Result + because + Cause.

Example: I shut my windows because it was windy outside.
indepdent clause / dependent clause
[result, what happened] + because [event that caused another action]

therefore (T) - The cause is in the first part of the sentence and the result is in the second part of the sentence.

consequently (T)

accordingly (T)

as a result (T)


To contrast

but (CC)

yet (CC)

though / although (SC)

even though (SC)

despite (SC)

whereas (SC)

however (T)

nevertheless (T)

conversely (T)

on the other hand (T) – This phrase is frequently misused.

on the contrary (T)




To show conditions

if (SC)

whether (SC)

as long as (SC)




To show time or sequence

until (SC)

when (SC)

while (SC)

after (SC)

before (SC)

since (SC) - Use only to indicate time, not cause and effect.

previously (T)

currently (T)

subsequently (T)

at the same time (T)

during (preposition)




To show purpose

in order to

Special case - - These words are followed by the base form of a verb. Example: We left early in order to arrive on time.”).




To emphasize

specifically (T)

in particular (T)

moveover (T) - Caution: This word is frequently used incorrectly. Use it when you add information that supports an earlier statement.

especially/particularly - (Adverb). Never use at beginning of sentence; use a comma when phrase is at end of sentence. Example: Hand hygiene is important, particularly in healthcare settings.




To show alternatives

or (CC)

whether ... or not (SC)




To include

including - Do not use a comma if the information after “such as” is essential; Do use a comma if the information after “such as” can be removed without changing your meaning.




To conclude

Not always necessary for conclusion paragraph; Use these words when giving the final point of a brief idea or example.

in conclusion (T)

finally (T)

to conclude (T)

Tips

Do not overuse transitions: Two sentences in a row beginning with a transition is repetitive. Explaining a connection between two ideas is always best.

Vary your sentence structure: Try limiting transition words to a maximum of three per page.




Other methods to establish connections (APA, 2010, p.65, 3.05)

1. Use pronouns to avoid unnecessary repetition.

Example

Beta-blockers have a number of adverse effects including brochospasm. They are contraindicated in patients with asthma.1

2. Repeat key words or phrases.

Example

Al Jaber (2013) found that poor adherence to antihypertensive medicines leads to increased risk of hospitalization due to stroke. Similarly, Davis et al. (2013) found that a significant number of all cardiovascular disease events were linked to poor adherence to medications, and that the poorer the adherence the greater the risk of an adverse event. Idris and Albulushi (2012) found that poor adherence was the most common cause of poor BP control in patients with resistant hypertension.

3. Use parallel structure. or phrases.

Example

Al Jaber (2013) found that poor adherence to antihypertensive medicines leads to increased risk of hospitalization due to stroke. Similarly, Davis et al. (2013) found that a significant number of all cardiovascular disease events were linked to poor adherence to medications, and that the poorer the adherence, the greater the risk of an adverse event. Idris and Albulushi (2012) found that poor adherence was the most common cause of poor BP control in patients with resistant hypertension.

For more information on parallel structure, see the following links:

  1. Parallelism: http://lavc.edu/0-Kentico-Training/document-library/docs/Parallelism-(1).aspx (Los Angeles Valley College).
  2. Parallel structure: http://www.chompchomp.com/terms/parallelstructure.htm (Simmons, 2017).

References

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association.(6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Hornby, A. S. (2005). Oxford advanced learner’s dictionary, (7th ed.). New York: NY: Oxford UP.

Messenger, W. E., de Bruyn, J., Brown, J., & Montagnes, R. (2008). The Canadian writer’s handbook (5th ed.). Don Mills, Canada: Oxford University Press.

Source used for examples:

  1. Bunker, J. (2014). Hypertension: Diagnosis, assessment and management. Nursing Standard, 28(42). 50-59. doi:10.7748/ns.28.42.50.e8682 (pp. 57, 58).

  2. Neeb, K. (2006). Fundamentals of mental health nursing (3rd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis (pp. 186, 189).

How to create grammatical and APA standard lists in your papers.

Lists can be integrated into sentences, or they can extend beyond the sentence into paragraphs (APA, 2010, “Seriation,” pp. 63-65).

Use parallel structure — identical grammatical structures (words, phrases, and clauses) — in a sentence or paragraph to make the elements of your list stand out from the rest of the text. Using similarly structured words or phrases in your list draws the reader’s attention to it and shows that the ideas are connected to each other (Messenger et al., The Canadian Writer’s Handbook, 2008, pp. 256, 275).

In the following and other examples on this page, notice how the repetition of grammatically similar words and phrases make the different elements in the lists stand out and therefore easier to read.

Example
Some indicators of stress and anxiety in these age groups include decline in school performance, changes in eating habits and sleeping patterns, and withdrawal from friends and usual activities.1




Punctuation – for lists at the sentence level.

Comma
Use a comma between items in a list of three or more items (including before the words and/or; e.g., e.g., 1, 2, and 3) (APA, 2010, p. 88, 4.03).

Example
As religious principles and practices are very important in Middle Eastern societies, it is fortunate that the Islamic religion and culture promote physical health by encouraging nonsmoking behavior, a healthy diet, careful hygiene, and regular exercise (Hatefnia et al., 2010; Yosef, 2008).2
For more information, see the following link http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2010/02/lists-part-2-commas-and-semicolons.html

Semicolon
Use a semicolon when a list already uses commas and between multiple sources in a single citation (APA, 2010, p. 90, 4.04).

Example A (list with commas)
The term “healthy lifestyle” encompasses engagement in physical exercise and activities; a diet low in oil, fat, and sugar, and high in fruits and vegetables; and nonsmoking behavior.2

Example B (citation with multiple sources)
(Hatefnia et al., 2010; Yosef, 2008).2
For more information, see the following link http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2010/02/lists-part-2-commas-and-semicolons.html

Colon
Use a colon after an independent clause (complete sentence) to introduce a list (APA, 2010, p. 90, 4.05).

Example
Anxiety is usually referred to in two ways: free-floating anxiety and signal anxiety.1

Bullets – for lists at the sentence and paragraph levels
When a list is placed inside your sentence or paragraph, use lowercase letters inside parentheses (APA, 2010, p. 64)

Example A
For each patient, pain intensity at each assessment time was measured by the following: (a) worst pain, (b) average pain, and (c) mean severity.3

Bullets – for lists beyond the paragraph
Longer lists can be set apart from a paragraph on a separate line and indented. Use numbers when the describing a sequence or process; use bullets when you do not want to draw attention to the order of elements.

Example B
Criteria for panic disorder require at least 4 of a list of 12 possible symptoms:
  • Fear
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Increased pulse3
Example C
The individual steps of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are as follows:
  1. Physiological needs
  2. Safety and security
  3. Love and belonging
  4. Esteem)
  5. Self-actualization

For more information on parallel structure, see the following links:

  1. Parallelism: http://lavc.edu/0-Kentico-Training/document-library/docs/Parallelism-(1).aspx (Los Angeles Valley College).
  2. Parallel structure: http://www.chompchomp.com/terms/parallelstructure.htm (Simmons, 2017).
  3. Lists – introducing items in a series: http://www.chompchomp.com/terms/iteminaseries.htm (Simmons, 2017).

References

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association.(6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Messenger, W. E., de Bruyn, J., Brown, J., & Montagnes, R. (2008). The Canadian writer’s handbook (5th ed.). Don Mills, Canada: Oxford University Press.

(Available at UCQ – Call Number: PE 1408.M48 2008 c.1)

Source used for examples:

  1. Neeb, K. (2006). Fundamentals of mental health nursing (3rd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis (pp. 186, 189).

  2. Donnelly, T. T., Al Suwaidi, J., Al Enazi, N. R., Idris, Z., Albulushi, A., ... Abu Hassan, A. H. (2012). Qatari women living with cardiovascular diseases – challenges and opportunities to engage in healthy lifestyles. Health Care for Women International, 33(12), 1114-1134. doi:10.1080/07399332.2012.712172 (p. 1116)

  3. Dulko, D., Hertz, E. Julien, J. Beck, S., & Mooney, K. (2010). Implementation of cancer pain guidelines by acute care nurse practitioners using an audit and feedback strategy. Jou/nal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 22, 45-55. doi:10.1111/j.1745-7599.2009.00469.x (p. 49)

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