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 client. 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 clients. After helping all of my clients, 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)
- and 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.
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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.
Related: How to use accent marks, Spanish adjectives, Cognates, and Verb conjugation.
More Examples of 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 at TakeLessons Live.