How to Make Your Essay Sentences Flow Smoothly
Cohesiveness is one of the factors professors, teachers, and standardized test (such as TOEFL, SAT) graders look for when they assess an essay. When an essay is cohesive, it fits together like a puzzle or like two pieces of paper that have been glued. It is important for essays to be cohesive because they are easier to read and they make more sense to the person reading. For example, read both of the following lines of text aloud:
- X M T C Q R Y G Z W B N
- This is the best day of my life.
Which is easier to read? The second line contains twice the number of letters in the first line. Even so, which line can you remember better? Which would you prefer to read? Although the examples are extreme, the point can be understood quickly: when writing is cohesive, reading is a better experience.
In English speaking countries, the responsibility for clear communication rests upon the writer. One way to write more clearly is to use transitional phrases. Transitional words and phrases clue your reader when you are changing the direction of your essay, adding factors, or making a contrast. Some people think of transitional words and phrases like road signs. You could probably find your way from South Africa to Egypt without reading a single road sign. After all, you could look at the position of the sun or stop and ask directions to finally get to Egypt, but it would take longer than it would if you could find road signs. In a similar way, transitional phrases help your reader get to the point of your essay faster and easier.
Keep the following list by your side as you write. Add words as you encounter them.
- To add: and, in addition, additionally, also, further, moreover, similarly, next
- To provide examples: for instance, for example, to illustrate
- To give details: including, specifically, particularly
- To contrast: but, however, in contrast, on the other hand, yet
- To summarize: so, thus, in brief, finally, therefore, in conclusion
- To show a level of importance or to emphasize: certainly, surely, importantly, most important, of consequence, above all
- To show a result, consequence, or effect: as a result, following that, consequently, for this reason, then
- To show a cause: due to, because, since
- To indicate the passing of time: before, after, next, at first, at the same time, previously, subsequently, afterwards, for a minute/day/week/year