Easy Words to Use as Sentence Starters to Write Better Essays

How to Improve the Vocabulary of Your Essay
How to Improve the Vocabulary of Your Essay

Improve Your Writing Today

Can you quickly and easily improve your writing? Yes. For over 20 years, I've been teaching students how to improve their writing, lessons I share with you here. Every time my students take these easy tips and apply them, their writing gets dramatically better. Why? Three reasons:

  • These tips and transition words help you resist the old habit of simple subject-verb sentence structure and develop richer and more nuanced ideas.
  • By adding these transition words to your sentences, you link your ideas more effectively.
  • These transition words make your writing sound more professional and less like spoken language.

Improving Your Essay: Choosing the Perfect Words
Improving Your Essay: Choosing the Perfect Words

1. Use Transition Words

The most important tip for improving your writing quickly is to follow one rule:

Tip #1: Start every sentence in a paragraph with a different word. How? Here is my step-by-step guide:

  • Use the transition list as you write: Think about how the sentences in your paragraph are related to one another. If you are comparing and contrasting two ideas, then use the "Showing Contrast" transition words (see list below). Are you writing about steps in a process? Then use the "Adding to an Idea" transition words below. When writing about something that happened, use the "Sequence/Time" transitions I've provided.
  • Using the transition list while you are revising: Sometimes, it is easier not to worry about these words until your final draft stage, especially if you are a beginning writer. How do you do this? Use the following tips:
  1. Go through your first draft and circle the first word in every sentence.
  2. If you use the same word to start a sentence twice in a paragraph, then you need to choose another transition word and re-word the sentence.
  3. How to choose transition words? Think about how each sentence fits with the one before it.

Does this sentence add information? Then use "moreover," "furthermore," or another word that adds to the idea.
If this sentence contrasts with the previous sentence, you might use "however" or "on the other hand."
If it is a time sequence, use "next," "then," or consider using "first," "second," etc.
Don’t use the same transition too often. Also, don't forget the comma after the transition word and don't forget to put the subject of the sentence after the comma.

How to Choose Word to Use

What makes using transitions improve your writing is that it forces you to explain the connections between your ideas. Ask yourself:

  1. What does the sentence before this one say?
  2. How does this sentence relate to that one?
  3. Scan the list for a transition that seems to fit best. You can also use these questions for help:

Does this sentence add information? Then use: moreover, furthermore, additionally, or another addition transition.

Does the sentence contrast or contradict? Use: however, on the other hand, in contrast, or another contrasting transition.

Are you writing something that happens in order? Use: next, then, or consider using time order like first, second,etc.

Does this sentence add evidence? Use: for example, consequently, for this reason, or another consequence transition.

Does the sentence emphasize an idea? Use: obviously, especially, as a rule, particularly or another emphasizing transition.

Tips to Remember

1. Use a variety of transition words, not the same one.

2. Put a comma after the transition word.

3. Put the subject of the sentence after the comma.

Choosing the Right Word to Start, End, and Transition Topics
Choosing the Right Word to Start, End, and Transition Topics

Transition Word List

Words to Show Contrast
Words to Add to an Idea
Words That Show Consequence
Words That Add Emphasis
as a result
above all
as a rule
as well as
as usual
in contrast
due to
in comparison
for this reason
for this purpose
coupled with
on the one hand…on the other hand
generally speaking
on the contrary
in addition
so then
for the most part
other than
in this situation
outside of
in fact
no doubt (undoubtedly)
this is why
of course

2. Use a Variety of Words When Citing Examples

for one thing
in particular (particularly)
as an illustration
this can be seen in
for/as an example
illustrated with/by
such as
for instance
in this case
Use any of these alternatives to add clarity and variety to your writing.
Easy Ways to Improve Your Essay
Easy Ways to Improve Your Essay

3. Use Different Words to Order Events and Sequence Time

first... second... third...
with this in mind
in turn
generally... furthermore... finally
for now
later on
in the first place... also... lastly
to be sure... additionally... lastly
in the meantime
first... just in the same way... finally
for the time being
basically... similarly... as well as
first of all
the next step
to begin with
in conclusion
at first
in the first place
in time
Use a wide variety of words to show how ideas are chronologically related.

4. Use Interesting Words When Summarizing

after all
in any event
in other words
on balance
all in all
in brief
in short
that is (that is to say)
all things considered
in conclusion
in brief
in essence
in summary
to put it differently
by and large
in the final analysis
to sum up
on the whole
in the long run
to summarize
in any case
Use a wide variety of words to sum up the point you are making.

College English 101

Improving Your Writing Over Time

Just following my tips to add transition words to your essay can often make your essay much better and will probably improve your grade. Inevitably, as soon as I tell my classes about this technique their writing improves dramatically. Better yet, the more you use transition words in revision, the more you begin to add that technique to your writing during the first draft.

Why does that help? It begins training you to think about how your ideas relate to one another and helps you to write essays that are deeper, more connected and logical. If you've found this technique helpful, or if you have another sentence starting technique, please add your comments below to help out other writers.

How many times to you revise an essay?

  • three or more times
  • twice
  • once
  • I don't revise, I just write it and hand it in!
  • I only do revisions if my instructor requires it.
  • I proof-read but don't revise.
See results without voting

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Comments 73 comments

Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 4 days ago from Hyderabad, India

Very useful article for improving one's style of writing. Thanks for sharing this wonderful knowledge.

Shirly 5 weeks ago

This is a good website for kids

Lachlan 5 weeks ago

Thanks u helped me with my assignment

herownwings profile image

herownwings 6 weeks ago from Oregon

I love the charts; they really lay things out concisely. Thanks for the helpful information. I'm glad to add another specific tool to my writing toolbox!

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 6 weeks ago from United States Author

Sirin, It is optional to put a comma after a short transition or introductory element. For example, I can put a comma in this sentence after "example" but the meaning is clear if I don't, so it is all right to leave the comma out. However, you are not wrong to add the comma and it often makes the sentence clearer. Here are some examples and you can decide whether the comma is helpful or not:

Nevertheless, I believe she is correct in her assumption.

On the other hand, what they think is also correct.

sirin 6 weeks ago

Hello,you said that it is important to put a comma after each transition word,but i found in a book i have read that, of Macdwell about British history,he uses no commat after each transition he put.I want to know please :is this permmited in writing or no.And,in the same time, we can't say he is wrong since he is an auther and he publishes books.thank you in advance

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 6 weeks ago from United States Author

Hi, Ahmed! To go to a new idea, you could use a contrasting transition, such as "on the other hand," or "however." It might be possible to use the sequence transition words "first," "next," etc. if you are doing something that happens in time or in space. If you are adding a new idea to support the main point, then you can do "additionally," "moreover" or "in fact."

Ahmed 6 weeks ago

Interesting, but which words used to start new topic / idea .

Mustafa 2 months ago

thank you so much for doing this it helped me a lot and I'm sure I'll be visiting this page in the future

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 2 months ago from United States Author

Congratulations on starting to learn English, Maria! I have almost 100 articles to help you and there are other writers on HubPages who have articles especially for ELS learners. Good luck! Learning English takes work but I know you can do it!

maria 2 months ago

I'm beginners .I wanna to learn English as second language .

Ithink these words help me a lot.

thank you

Isabella 2 months ago

Omg this helps/helped me so much with writing my essays.So happy I found this website and thank you for creating it

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 2 months ago from United States Author

So glad this helps you Jackie. Check out my other articles for even more help and ideas! Every year, I get more ideas from my students to incorporate into my site. Teaching is always about learning as well as giving out information.

Jackie 2 months ago

Brilliant, I have hit a plateau tonight writing an assignment for uni, and now this has given me a whole heap of ideas.

Jodah profile image

Jodah 4 months ago from Queensland Australia

Very professional article, Virginia. Your wise advice and list of words is very helpful.

Juan 4 months ago

Thanks for this post it really helped me.

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 months ago from United States Author

Tina--thanks so much for your comment! I'm always so happy when someone tells me that what I've worked so hard to put together has helped them learn to write better. Now that all of us communicate so much through the Internet, I think learning to write clearly is even more important than ever.

Tina Kozma 4 months ago

This website is the only website I use when writing essays. In fact, I have this website on my desktop so I can easily access it. Thank you so much for putting this information together!

jupiter justice profile image

jupiter justice 8 months ago from Los Angeles, CA

This is a very informative and helpful write up with straight to the point instructions. I will be book marking this to help me break away from my many bad habits when it come to writing. Thank you very much!

Elvis 8 months ago

This really helped thanx

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 8 months ago from United States Author

So glad that you think these will help your friend JG. I have a lot of second language readers. I've taught students from many different countries and, in fact, that is how I've come up with some of my material. I would see something that my students were having trouble doing and then tried to figure out a way to help them write better in that area

jgshorebird profile image

jgshorebird 8 months ago from Earth

Great information. Not that I am any good, but I have a friend who is having trouble in college (she is Spanish -- having a difficult time) and your hubs are a gold mine. Thanks.

Emily 9 months ago

Thank you so much. This will help me with my AP class. (:

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 10 months ago from United States Author

Thanks so much! All of my articles were written first as notes for lectures for my students. They are the ones who taught me what students want to know. My whole goal is to make writing easier and more accessible. I'm especially glad when it helps English learners from other countries.

Kamaraju64 10 months ago from Khammam, India.

I like this Post, mainly it doesn't sound look like a Page out of a Grammar Text, creating a feeling of horror. I find it hospitable, offering bits and bits of advice.

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 14 months ago from United States Author

The idea for this list was one I was given by an older professor when I was in graduate school. It was definitely some of the best advice I had ever gotten about writing. I love the fact that the idea is so simple but it really makes a huge difference in the sound of a person's writing. I've added a lot of words to the list over the years and added the rules of how to use these in sentences.

Callen C 14 months ago

This post is very helpful and practical! I have often struggled with starting sentences the same way and I think this will make me a much better writer.

Matt Dulany 14 months ago

This is great information. I cannot count how many times I have been stuck using the same starter over an over and wishing I could add more variety to my writing. Extremely helpful ideas and lists of words.

Gary Malmberg profile image

Gary Malmberg 15 months ago from Concon, Chile

Love this. I'm saving it for the future. Two thumbs yup.

cherylone profile image

cherylone 15 months ago from Connecticut

Great hub! The reference lists are going to be a favorite of mine from now on.

DavidCombs profile image

DavidCombs 17 months ago

Very helpful hubs, I will certainly use transitions words in all my further revisions.

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 2 years ago from United States Author

Just Rodney--You are right about the differences in language. What I teach at my University is standard American English. Since I was born and raised in California, I speak and write in the "standard dialect" of the U.S. movie and T.V. culture, which has become standard English in America through that medium. One of the reasons that English has become such a universal language is that it is very adaptable and tends to allow people to add words from other languages, as well as add different ways of expressing thoughts. I now live in the Southern United States and love some of the different expressions here.

Just_Rodney profile image

Just_Rodney 2 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

Well written Hub, although English is spoken and written in a vast number of Countries; there are various grammatic, spelling and other subtle usages that come into play!

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

As always, great stuff from you. I enjoy your hubs and like learning from them. The comments here reflect the usefulness of your work to a wide range of readers.

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 2 years ago from United States Author

Thanks Lynette! I'm so glad you are working for your GED. It is not easy to finish everything but it will certainly be worth it.

Lynette Scott 2 years ago

I have just been given your list in my GED class. Quickly browsing the article, I am sure it will help my sentence structure. Here is one suggestion I would like to add for you.

Use "Remember," instead of "Don't forget,"

As in from your article "Remember, the comma after the transition word, and remember to put the subject of the sentence after the comma.

Thanks Lynette

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 2 years ago from United States Author

Hi Jade--Your example shows another way of starting sentences effectively, and that is by using a descriptive phrase. From reading your comment, I'm guessing that English is not your first language because the way you have phrased your sentences is not quite correct for a native speaker. However your point is excellent. Instead of putting the subject first in a sentence all the time (which English speakers generally do when talking because that makes the meaning of the sentence clearer), you can put a descriptive phrase or even part of the predicate of the sentence at the beginning. I will reword your sentence a bit to make it more correct in standard English:

One bright, sunny summer day, the son shone brilliantly through the clear class window.

Here are some other examples (notice how these short sentences jump out!):

Flashing an angry eye at me, the horse ran quickly past and jumped over a fence.

Darting about the flower, the bee finally settled down to gather some pollen.

Jade 2 years ago

It's really good, but on the other hand you should add more sentence starter like: One bright sunny summer day the sun shone on the glass clear window. Also do you think that was good?

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 2 years ago from United States Author

Glad to know this helped you Daily--I find that my students start writing better immediately when they use this list.

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 2 years ago from United States Author

So glad to know this helps you devsmilez. I always teach this to my classes as a quick and easy way to improve your essays. I see dramatic improvement when students use these.

joeykeefe profile image

joeykeefe 3 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

Interesting article. Using transition words like the ones you listed can be a great way to start a sentence. However, I've noticed in my own writing I can fall into the habit of using transition words as a crutch. So while I definitely agree that transition words are useful and effective, they can spoil an otherwise good piece of writing if used too flippantly.

Aplethora23 profile image

Aplethora23 3 years ago from North Cali

Wow. Thank you for the list of transition words, VirginiaLynne. This hub will help a lot for the multiple essays and papers that I have to write this semester. Thank you for sharing.

Brittany 3 years ago

I have to write an essay on sports and my first paragraph has to include the author, title, publisher, etc, as well as a summary of the main points and ideas. I cannot figure out how I should start this essay. Please help!

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 3 years ago from United States Author

Good point Tex. What emphasize in my class is that you need to pay attention to how your ideas connect with one another. Usually you are adding, contrasting or comparing. Transition words help you make that distinction clear. In spoken language we often use tone, voice and gestures to make those connections, but in written language we need to use transition words and punctuation.

texshelters profile image

texshelters 3 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

Certainly, paying attention to transitions is important. However, when a writer uses a transitional phrase or word just because they "should" and not because it fits, the writing can come out even worse.


Tex Shelters

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 3 years ago from United States Author

Good question aya. Here are some ideas: On Saturday and Sunday; add another transition word like, "Sometimes on the weekend"; change the "on" to another transition word like "During the weekend"; switch your sentence around so that "on the weekend" comes at the end, such as "We love to go sailing on the weekend" instead of "On the weekend, we love to go sailing"; and try a variation like "Weekends." Hope that helps!

aya 3 years ago

what other words rather then ''on the weekend'' can we use in a recount on the start of a sentence

JennyAG1 profile image

JennyAG1 3 years ago from Connecticut, USA


What a wonderful idea and thank you. Your hub is very helpful.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand


You have some very useful tips for using words to begin sentences. Sometimes I get into the habit of using the same word too many times in a paragraph, and I do know it is the wrong thing to do. I'm not teaching writing to my EFL 5th graders this year, but in the past I have tried to steer them away from using the same word too many times in a paragraph. Voted up and sharing.

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Hi travel man --thanks for coming by. This is my most popular Hub and I can really tell when my students start doing this in their writing--it automatically makes their writing better--such an easy trick too!

travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 4 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

This is a very helpful hub, especially to a non-English writer (I'm a Filipino.) like me.

Although, we studied English since pre-school years, I still had to translate what I'm thinking in my vernacular language into English.

Thanks for sharing what you're teaching to your class here on HP.

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Glad you liked these Alecia--I always keep these next to me as I write too!

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

I always have trouble thinking of transitions when writing. Sometimes I feel like I am repeating myself when I write but don't notice until I revise. Great tips!

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Celina--I always tell students that this list is like "gold" for writing. I can't believe how much it improves my student's tone and style when they use it.

madeleinescheve profile image

madeleinescheve 4 years ago

Great tips and words on improving writing. I have not heard of some before such as "starting each paragraph with a new word." That could significantly improve my writing instantly. Thank you very much for providing this.

Hannah Heath profile image

Hannah Heath 4 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

This will be so helpfu lto add variety to all my essays. Sometimes I get stuck on how to transition to a new idea or how to introduce a new paragraph, so these should come in handy!

CelinaWeemhoff profile image

CelinaWeemhoff 4 years ago

This article actually helped me quite a bit. I have a bad habit of using the same words a lot in my essays, so it would be great for me to have a list of different words I could use instead of using the same ones over and over again. Also, this will probably help me with starting my sentences. I generally have a hard time starting sentences, but it will be easier for me if I have a list of words I could use to start my sentences with.

EuroNinila profile image

EuroNinila 4 years ago from NYC BABY

Helpful hub, will be using this if I ever need to! Thanks!

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Millionaire Tips--Glad you stopped by. Just remembering to start every sentence differently does an amazing change to a person's writing style. It was very interesting that I saw this quite dramatically in my students this last year. Their writing seems more mature and professional overnight.

Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

This is very helpful. I hadn't thought about starting each sentence in a paragraph with a different word.

Jamie 4 years ago

Interesting! I am quite weak using transition word. It really helps. Thanks.

diamond1mo profile image

diamond1mo 4 years ago from Arizona

An intriguing hub, but it is irritable to instruct writers that starting sentences with dependent phrases, prepositions, and conjunctions is acceptable as an English language convention.

drspaniel profile image

drspaniel 4 years ago from Somewhere, where the sun shines once a year...

Fantastic Hub! I sometimes find myself using the same words consistently when opening a sentence, so this Hub is god sent for me! Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

So thankful for your comments Alex. I've noticed that I'm getting a lot of my Hub traffic from your side of the pond. We have some good friends over in the Redcar area but I've never had a chance to visit the UK, even though I've wanted to for years. Right now, I'm reading through all of Trollope's novels and imagining England as it was in the 1870s. I guess I might be disappointed to go there now!

Alex 4 years ago

Fantastic, I'm an English student studying at University here in the UK, and I still find your academic hub pages extremely useful!

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Hi Michael--I am not sure if there are some differences between the UK and the US, but it is possible to omit the comma in a short sentence, such as the one he uses in the video. However, I agree with you that he does mislead the viewer into thinking that is always the correct form. For the most part, I prefer to add the comma, even if it isn't necessary for meaning. However, all of the sources I checked say that it is optional in a short sentence, just as it is optional in a short introductory phrase of 2-3 words. Both of the following are correct, but I prefer the second example:

After dinner Jane went to the store.

After dinner, Jane went to the store.

Michael 4 years ago

What's going on? In the sentence variety video, the bloke explains that no comma is necessary when joining to independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction. This contradicts everything I've ever learned about sentence structure and punctuation...and have taught as a teacher for seven years. Is the rule different in the UK or elsewhere than in the States?

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Thanks so much Loco Life for coming back to tell me your comment. This idea was given to me by a professor about 20 years ago and it the one idea which transformed my own writing. Glad it helped you too!

Loco Life profile image

Loco Life 4 years ago

Bookmarked and voted up!

This was truly a lifesaver for me! I've been told that I'm a strong writer, until it comes to transitioning. I was assigned a last minute project, with a very short deadline. Attached was a note reminding me to check and be sure of my transitions. If I didn't, I shouldn't even turn it in lol.

So my dreaded research began, which I truly didn't have time for, and I was lucky enough to find your hub first. Thank you so very much!

shamani67 profile image

shamani67 5 years ago

Thanks for the great hub. I will be making use of your list. Cheers

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi Eloise! I actually just gave a copy to my junior high son and high school daughter this week! My son had written an assignment and wanted my advice. The first thing I noticed was that almost every sentence started with the same word. So I gave him the sheet and explained how easy it was to just add a few of these to make the paragraph sound better. Like you, I am hoping it catches on!

Eloise Hope profile image

Eloise Hope 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon, USA

Printed it! Trotted it out to son! He may or may not use the advice, but what a great strategy to have on hand for those 'stuck' moments. Thanks very much!

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htodd 5 years ago from United States

Great post..Thanks

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    VirginiaLynne1,250 Followers
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    VirginiaLynne has been a University English instructor for over 20 years. She specializes at helping people write essays faster and easier.

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