Spanish Vocabulary: Intro to Spanish Transition Words


Once you’ve learned the basics of Spanish, it’s time to make your sentences flow! Here, we’ll explain the importance of transition words.

Intermediate Spanish students frequently ask how they can take their Spanish skills to the next level or sound just a bit more natural. One simple way to do this is to add transitions to your sentences.

This not only provides a good flow and allows the listener or reader to simply follow along, but it also adds interest.

Why Transition Words Matter in Spanish

Take, for example, this short summary of what I did today:

I did laundry and cleaned the dishes. I tutored a student. I watched TV with my dog. I did some work.

Sounds pretty boring, doesn’t it? One reason this sounds like no fun at all is because these sentences lack transitions. As native English speakers, we are naturally familiar with adding transitions to our sentences, but many beginner to intermediate-level students tend to forget to add these same transitions when they are writing in or speaking Spanish.

If I had added just a few transitions, the reader would be much more interested and the story would have a better flow:

After waking up, I did laundry and cleaned the dishes. Then I tutored a few students. After helping all of my students, I came home and watched TV with my dog. Finally, I sat at my desk and did some work.

Sure, it may still be a little boring, but there’s better flow and progression between the sentences and hopefully you found it at least a little more interesting. This is a prime example of why it’s important to use transitions in Spanish.

Types of Spanish Transitions

There are several different types of transitions, including…

  • Transitions for time (first, later, then)
  • Transitions for place (above, opposite from)
  • Transitions to add an idea (also, furthermore)
  • Transitions to explain an idea (for example, in other words)
  • Transitions to compare and contrast ideas (although, on the contrary)
  • Transitions to show a result (consequently, therefore)
  • Transitions to emphasize an idea (above all, in fact)
  • Transitions to summarize (in conclusion, that is)

Time transitions are some of the most common that new Spanish speakers begin with. When you are first using time Spanish transition words, it’s best to place the transitional word at the beginning of the sentence. For example, “Durante el día, yo trabajo con estudiantes” (“During the day, I work with students”). “During the day” or “durante el día” is the transitional phrase that explains when the action takes place.

Another common type of transition is placement. This type of transition is used within the sentence and tends to come somewhat naturally for students since it is a necessity to explain where something is.

For example, “Mi grapadora está al lado de mi calculadora” (“My stapler is next to my calculator”). In this case, the transition must be within the sentence because it’s relating the stapler to the calculator. It’s also worth noting that the verb used here is estar and not ser because the location of the stapler is temporary. (Editor’s note: learn more about estar vs. ser here!)

All of the other transitions are typically either the very first word or phrase in the sentence or come after a break in the sentence (that is, they are the first word or phrase in the second major phrase of the sentence).

For example, I could say, “No tengo leche. Por lo tanto tengo que ir al supermercado” (“I am out of milk. Therefore, I must go to the store”).

Or I could say “No tengo leche, por lo tanto tengo que ir al supermercado” (“I am out of milk, and therefore must go to the store”).

Here you can see that I can place “therefore” either at the beginning of the sentence to explain the result of not having any milk, or I can add a comma or semicolon and place the transition word after the comma or semicolon.

More Spanish Transition Words

Common Spanish Transition Words

We hope this article has helped you realize the importance of adding transitions and transitional phrases to your current Spanish vocabulary! Please don’t be scared to start sprinkling them in whenever you can.

And remember, the only way to really improve at anything is to practice, practice, practice. Take it slow and don’t be afraid to practice Spanish with other people! To get expert help at Spanish, try taking private Spanish lessons or our Spanish classes here at TakeLessons Live.

Need help learning Spanish?

Try one of our most popular online Spanish classes for free

Spanish for Healthcare
Provide better care to your Spanish-speaking patients by assisting them in their own native language. Learn how to greet your patients, understand their symptoms, give common diagnoses, and more in this interactive online group class.
Using Verbs to Form Complete Sentences
Take your skills to the next level in this online Spanish class! You’ll learn how to use present tense verbs to form complete thoughts and sentences. You will also have the ability to describe actions and things you do on a regular basis. Lastly, the class will begin writing simple sentences with guidance from an expert Spanish instructor.
Tricks to Memorize Spanish Vocabulary Fast
Struggling to learn Spanish at your desired pace? Learn smarter not harder! This group Spanish class will teach you simple tricks for learning new words and will help you develop better study habits. Come find out why learning Spanish is easier than you think.
Expand Your Spanish Vocabulary
In this advanced level Spanish class, you will learn and practice advanced Spanish phrases with an expert instructor and other students at your level. Get ready for a fun, interactive, challenging class where you will learn new phrases and raise the bar with your Spanish speaking skills. Even if you've never taken a group class before, you are welcome to join!
Spanish for Customer Service
Customer service is a vital part of any successful business, and the most valuable customer service reps are those who make an attempt to understand people of all backgrounds. These online classes will prepare you to ask for and give personal information in Spanish. You’ll also learn the necessary vocabulary for returning an item to a store, and many more useful topics!
Practice Speaking in the Future Tense
What are you doing tomorrow? In a week? Next year? In this class, you'll master the skills needed to talk about your future plans. An expert Spanish instructor will go over both the future tense and the simple future tense. You'll also get to practice your skills with a fun exercise on what your life will be like 20 years from now!
Advanced Conversational Spanish
Practice your Spanish language skills by reading a story and discussing it with other people! This interactive Spanish class will challenge you to read and discuss blogs, stories, and news articles in Spanish. Media practice is a proven way to increase your vocabulary while learning about general culture. Students can look forward to engaging in rewarding conversations while learning unexpected new vocabulary words. My classes are 100% in Spanish, I do not speak or understand English. Do you join in and risk this experience? --- ¡Practica tus habilidades en el idioma español con la lectura de un cuento y discusión del mismo con otras personas! Esta clase interactiva de español lo desafiará a leer y discutir blogs, cuentos y artículos de noticias en español. La práctica de los medios es una forma comprobada de aumentar su vocabulario mientras aprende sobre la cultura general. Los estudiantes pueden esperar participar en conversaciones gratificantes mientras aprenden nuevas palabras de vocabulario inesperadas.
Spanish Grammar for Intermediate Learners
Ready to go onto the next level? Each class provides an easy way to understand explanations of grammar usage, by comparisons with English grammar when needed and clear examples that illustrate and clarify the grammatical explanations.