300 Days of Better Writing

October 26, 2011

Sentences Make Transitions


In the same way that paragraphs need transitions to help the reader understand their relevance, sentences need transitions. Actually, every sentence is a transition from the previous sentence to the next. This means that a sentence will refer to the information in the previous sentence and provide clues about what the next sentence will address.

To create transitions, the words near the beginning of a sentence must relate to the topic or idea of the previous sentence, and the words near the end must relate to the topic or idea discussed in the next sentence. These transitions show the relevance of information in a sentence and help tie multiple ideas together into a cohesive whole idea.

Let’s look at an example.

(1)The operant conditioning chamber was first developed by Skinner while he was a graduate student at Harvard University. (2)He used the chamber to study the effect of inputs on rats. (3)Various devices in the chamber provided inputs that, over time, ‘taught’ the rats to behave in predictable ways.

Consider sentence two. The words “chamber” and “study” refer to the operant conditioning chamber and Skinner as a graduate student, respectively, which are discussed in sentence one. The word “inputs” refers to the topic of inputs in the third sentence.

In this way, sentence two provides a transition from sentence one to sentence three while adding new content.


This is the strategy for day 25 in 300 Days of Better Writing, available at Hostile Editing in PDF, Kindle, and paperback formats.


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