Transition words are the knots that hold sentences together.
Imagine a world where all we have are one-verb, simple sentences.
We would say things like:
Ayer me partí una pierna. No puedo ir a la escuela hoy. (I broke my leg yesterday. I can’t go to school today.)
Podría hacer los deberes. No tengo el libro de texto. (I could do my homework. I don’t have the textbook.)
There is nothing wrong with these sentences, grammatically speaking, yet they sound odd.
I am sure you do not talk like that, and neither do we, Spanish-speaking folk. We would say:
Ayer me partí una pierna, por eso no puedo ir a la escuela hoy. (I broke my leg yesterday, so I can’t go to school today.)
Podría hacer los deberes, pero no tengo el libro de texto. (I could do my homework, but I don’t have the textbook.)
A few little changes and it all looks much better in a sec, doesn’t it?
The only thing we have done is to join a couple of sentences and add a little bit of info. The rest remains the same.
You do this in English thousands of times every day even though you may not be doing it consciously. You use these types of “connection words” all the time in your native language and thanks to this post, you will be able to do the same in Spanish.
Without much further ado, let’s learn all about Spanish transition words.
What Are Transition Words and How Can They Help Me?
Simply put, transition words are words and phrases that help us connect ideas between sentences (or make a transition between one sentence and the next one, if you will).
We use these kinds of words when we talk and write to help deliver the message we want to convey. When we connect sentences with transition words, we add only a couple of words, but we make the meaning of what we are saying much clearer. Have a look:
No tengo mucho tiempo. Voy a ir a la fiesta. (I don’t have much time. I will go to the party.)
Sure, the sentences are correct and we know the speaker is going to the party, but what is the relation between the sentences? Is going to the party the reason why they do not have time? Is it getting late?
Just by adding transition words to the mix, everything starts to make sense:
No tengo mucho tiempo pero voy a ir a la fiesta. (I don’t have much time but I will go to the party. — I will do that for you.)
Como no tengo mucho tiempo, voy a ir a la fiesta. (Since I don’t have much time, I will go to the party. — I will not go to both the ice-cream parlor and the party because I don’t have a lot of time. I will only go to the party.)
No tengo mucho tiempo. Además, voy a ir a la fiesta. (I don’t have much time. Besides, I am going to the party. — I cannot help you with your homework at the moment. I am also going to a party, and that’s another reason why I can’t stay here, I need to hurry up.)
These are just three examples of what transition words can do for us and how they can help us to deliver the exact message we want. Aren’t they awesome?
What Types of Spanish Transition Words Are There?
Depending on the meaning of your sentence, you will want to use a different set of transition words to help you with it.
Looking at different grammar books and online sites, there does not seem to be a total consensus as to how to classify them. Some pages have six big groups of transition words, others have 10 and there are even sites that mention 14.
We do not want to start a debate on the most correct form of grouping transition words, so what I did was I took a look at many different resources and came up with a group of eight types of transition words that seem to be the most often referred to: time, place/space, explanation, addition, result, emphasis, contrast and summary.
Get ready to make your writing and speaking shine like a diamond thanks to these little words we call transition words. Once you start using them, nothing will ever be the same for you.
Spanish Transition Words Made Easy: The Guide to Connecting Your Thoughts Like a Pro
We know what transition words are, how helpful they can be and what the main types are.
The only thing that’s left is seeing the most important ones in action and learning how to use them.
For each word or phrase below, you will see a translation into English and a sample sentence. I have added additional info when necessary.
ya, todavía/todavia no (already, still / not yet)
You can use ya before or after the verb, and todavía no together or apart (have a look at our post on Spanish negation if you need more info):
Ya hemos llegado. / Hemos llegado ya. (We have already arrived.)
Todavía tengo tiempo. (I still have time.)
Todavía no lo entiendo. / No lo entiendo todavía. (I don’t understand it yet.)
primero/en primer lugar, segundo/en segundo lugar… (first of all/for starters/first/firstly, second/secondly…)
Primero, pela la cebolla. Segundo, córtala en cubos. (First, peel the onion. Secondly, chop it into cubes.)
En primer lugar, quiero dar las gracias a mi hermano. En segundo lugar, me gustaría… (First of all, I would like to thank my brother. Secondly, I would like to…).
luego (then, later, next), después (after, after that), entonces (then, at that moment), más tarde (later), pronto (soon, soon after)
The words luego, después and más tarde can be used interchangeably when you are describing a succession of events or giving instructions. Entonces normally refers to a specific past moment in time. Pronto has a sense of immediacy, something happening shortly or shortly after something else:
Luego/Después/Más tarde, revisa la gramática. (Then/After that/Later/Next, review the grammar.)
Entonces entendió que estaba solo. (At that moment, he understood he was alone.)
Llegarán pronto. (They will arrive soon.)
Pronto descubriría su pasado oscuro. (Shortly after, he would discover her dark past.)
al final (at the end), finalmente (finally/at last/lastly)
Watch out for these two words, because they get confused very often and are used interchangeably even though they are not always equivalent.
Use al final when you want to talk about what happens at the end of a series of events or when you have a result at the end of a process. Use finalmente when something took its time to happen or with the last step in instructions:
Al final, cerró la puerta. (At the end, he closed the door.)
Al final no vino. (He did not come at the end.)
¡Has llegado finalmente! (You have come at last!)
Finalmente, hornea durante 20 minutos. (Lastly, bake for 20 minutes.)
However, there is a situation when both al final and finalmente are synonyms. This happens when we want to say “eventually”:
Al final/Finalmente, seré feliz. (I will be happy eventually.)
para continuar (next/further), para terminar (last/lastly/finally)
Para continuar, quiero mostraros mi próximo proyecto. (Next, I want to show you my next project.)
Para terminar, escuchemos esta canción. (Lastly, let’s listen to this song.)
por último (lastly, last but not least), en conclusión (in conclusion)
Use both these transition phrases at the end of rather formal speeches or pieces of writing:
Por último, debemos analizar los resultados. (Last but not least, we should analyze the results.)
En conclusión, este año ha sido muy bueno. (In conclusion, this has been a very good year.)
Se lo diré cuando lo vea. (I will tell him when I see him.)
Cuando estudio siempre bebo té. (When I study, I always drink tea.)
Hice muchas fotos durante mi último viaje. (I took a lot of pics during my last trip.)
He viajado mucho durante los últimos tres años. (I have traveled a lot over the last three years.)
en cuanto (once/no sooner than/as soon as), tan pronto como (as soon as)
En cuanto llegue, lo llamaré. (Once/As soon as I arrive, I will call him.)
Tan pronto como llegue, lo llamaré. (As soon as I arrive, I will call him.)
mientras (while/as long as), mientras tanto (in the meantime/meanwhile)
Estudiaré español mientras cocinas. (I will study Spanish while you cook.)
Mientras me ames, yo seré feliz. (As long as you love me, I will be happy.)
Mientras tanto, Juan estaba llamando a su madre. (Meanwhile, Juan was calling his mom.)
You can also see mientras in use in this FluentU clip about a Colombian urban legend. In fact, you can find many of the transition words in this article and much more over on FluentU.
FluentU lets you hear content by real native Spanish speakers, made for other Spanish speakers. It is a great way to see vocabulary words and grammar rules the way they are actually used in everyday conversations. Plus, you can use FluentU in the browser or get the iOS or Android apps and take your learning on the go!
aquí/acá (here), ahí (there), allí/allá (over there)
Vámonos. No hay nadie aquí. (Let’s go. There’s no one here.)
Ahí tienes. (There you go/There you have it.)
Allá voy. (There I go.)
de, desde (from)
When talking about time, these two words have the same meaning. Remember to use the definite article when you are using desde:
El banco está abierto de nueve a tres. (The bank is open from nine A.M. to three P.M.)
El banco está abierto desde las nueve hasta las tres. (The bank is open from nine A.M. to three P.M.)
Corre hacia mí. (Run toward me.)
Muévelo un poco hacia la derecha. (Move it a little bit to the right.)
por ejemplo (for example/for instance/e.g.)
Necesito tres camisetas, por ejemplo esta, esa y aquella. (I need three t-shirts, for example this one, that one and that one over there.)
Vendemos artículos de papelería, por ejemplo lápices, bolígrafos, cuadernos y papel. (We sell stationery, for instance, pencils, pens, notebooks and paper.)
es decir (that is to say/that is/i.e.)
He entrenado tres horas, es decir, estoy muy cansado. (I have worked out for three hours, that is, I am very tired.)
Me encantan los cítricos, es decir, los limones, las naranjas, las mandarinas y similares. (I love citruses, i.e. lemons, oranges, tangerines and the like.)
así (thus, thereby)
Estudié mucho y así pude aprobar el examen. (I studied a lot and thus I could pass the exam.)
Como normally means “like/as,” as in:
Trátame como a un hermano. (Treat me like a brother.)
However, if it starts a sentence, it has an explanatory meaning:
Como no había clientes, cerré la tienda. (Since there were no clients, I closed the shop.)
en otras palabras (in other words)
En otras palabras, sufre usted de depresión. (In other words, you suffer from depression.)
entre ellos (among them, among others), entre otros (among other things)
Tenemos muchos libros, entre ellos “El Señor de los Anillos.” (We have a lot of books, among them “The Lord of the Rings.”)
Me gustan los colores cálidos, entre ellos el amarillo y el naranja. (I like warm colors, yellow and orange, among others.)
Just as in English, y can only connect two words, phrases or sentences of the same category. This is called coordination, and y is a coordinating conjunction:
Estoy cansado y me duele la cabeza. (I am tired and I have a headache.)
Necesito comprar naranjas y peras. (I need to buy oranges and pears.)
además (in addition/also/furthermore/moreover/besides), además de (in addition to/apart from), también (also/as well/too)
Además, me dijo que no tenía dinero. (In addition, he told me he did not have any money.)
Además de ser guapa, es inteligente. (Apart from being pretty, she is intelligent.)
Quiero el rojo también. (I want the red one, too.)
asimismo (also/similarly/likewise/furthermore), igualmente (similarly/likewise/furthermore), del mismo modo (similarly/likewise/by the same token)
When using asimismo, make sure you really want to use it, and not así mismo or a sí mismo!
Necesitamos terminar el proyecto. Asimismo, deberíamos llamar al cliente. (We need to finish the project. Also, we should call the client.)
Igualmente, el contrato será firmado por todas las partes. (Likewise, the contract will be signed by all the parties.)
Del mismo modo, todos los estudiantes deben aprobar el examen. (By the same token, all students must past the test.)
por otro lado (conversely/on the other hand/what’s more), por otra parte (moreover/on the other hand/furthermore)
Por otro lado, todavía estamos esperando su respuesta. (What’s more, we are still waiting for his answer.)
Por otra parte, me gustaría volver a París. (On the other hand, I would like to go back to Paris.)
como resultado (as a result)
Como resultado, se mudó a Polonia. (As a result, he moved to Poland.)
en consecuencia (as a consequence, accordingly), a consecuencia de (as a result of, because of)
En consecuencia, desde ahora hablaremos solo en español. (Accordingly, we will only speak Spanish from now on.)
Llegué tarde, a consecuencia de lo cual, no pude ver a mi hermano. (I arrived late, as a consequence of which I wasn’t able to see my brother.)
por eso/esto (therefore, for this reason, that’s why)
Use por eso and por esto in rather informal contexts:
Me quedé dormido, por eso llegué tarde. (I overslept, that’s why I arrived late.)
No tengo tiempo. Por eso, volveré mañana. (I don’t have time. Therefore, I will come back tomorrow.)
por lo tanto, por consiguiente (therefore, thus)
Use por lo tanto and por consiguiente in formal contexts:
Por lo tanto, debemos tomar medidas preventivas. (Therefore, we have to take preventive measures.)
Por consiguiente, el resultado será publicado mañana. (Therefore, the result will be published tomorrow.)
por esta razón (for this reason, because of this)
Por esta razón, las botellas de plástico están prohibidas. (For this reason, plastic bottles are forbidden.)
así que (so)
La tienda estaba cerrada, así que volvimos a casa. (The shop was closed, so we went back home.)
sobre todo (particularly, especially, above all, mainly)
Eso es muy peligroso, sobre todo para niños. (That is very dangerous, especially for children.)
especialmente (especially, particularly)
Vamos mucho a la playa, especialmente en agosto. (We go to the beach very often, especially in August.)
efectivamente, realmente (effectively, indeed, actually, really, truly)
Efectivamente, los estudiantes nuevos no han venido. (Indeed, the new students have not come.)
Realmente pareces cansado. (You really look tired.)
de hecho (in fact, indeed, as a matter of fact)
No fui yo. De hecho, nunca he estado alli. (It wasn’t me. In fact, I have never been there.)
principalmente (especially, particularly, mainly)
Los usamos principalmente para exportar. (We use them mainly for export.)
pero (but, yet)
No lo necesito, pero lo compraré. (I don’t need it, but I’ll buy it.)
La casa es grande pero acogedora. (The house is big but cozy.)
There are three “sinos” in Spanish (si no and sino, on the one hand, and sino as a noun, on the other hand). Make sure you use the correct one:
No había dos, sino tres. (There weren’t two but three.)
Si no vienes, me enfadaré. (If you don’t come, I will be mad.)
No ser rico es mi sino. (Not being rich is my fate.)
aunque (although, while, even though, even if)
Iremos aunque llueva. (We will go even if it rains.)
Aunque no me gusta madrugar, siempre voy a correr a las cinco de la mañana. (Even though I don’t like waking up early, I always go for a run at five A.M.)
no obstante (however, nevertheless, notwithstanding)
La amo. No obstante, no podemos estar juntos. (I love her. However, we can’t be together.)
aun así (still, even so, nevertheless)
Estaba muy cansado. Aun así, fui a la fiesta. (I was very tired. Still, I went to the party.)
sin embargo (however, nevertheless)
Dice que no tiene dinero. Sin embargo, la semana pasada compró un coche nuevo. (He says he doesn’t have any money. However, last week he bought a new car.)
a pesar de (despite, in spite of)
A pesar de can be followed by a noun or by an infinitive:
A pesar de la lluvia, fuimos al zoo. (In spite of the rain, we went to the zoo.)
A pesar de estar cansado, seguí estudiando. (Despite being tired, I kept on studying.)
al contrario (on the contrary, conversely), contrariamente (contrary to, as opposed to), por el contrario (by contrast, on the other hand)
Al contrario, nunca dijo la verdad. (On the contrary, he never told the truth.)
Contrariamente a lo esperado, ganamos el partido. (Contrary to expectations, we won the match.)
Por el contrario, cualquier violación del contrato será castigada. (On the other hand, any contract violation shall be punished.)
en síntesis, en resumen, para resumir (in short, in a nutshell, in summary, in essence, to sum up)
En resumen, es uno de los mejores coches del mercado. (In essence, it is one of the best cars in the market.)
En síntesis, no tenemos nada que perder. (In a nutshell, we don’t have anything to lose.)
en general (in general, generally, overall, by and large)
En general, podemos decir que la campaña no fue un éxito. (By and large, we can say the campaign was not a success.)
en otras palabras (in other words)
En otras palabras, ya no te amo. (In other words, I don’t love you anymore.)
después de todo (after all, all in all)
Después de todo, seguimos juntos. (All in all, we are still together.)
As you may have already realized, Spanish transition words are small but powerful.
They help us to convey the exact meaning we want and allow us to connect sentences that would otherwise be most likely be lost in translation (or at least, very misunderstood).
Make sure you start using Spanish transition words when you write or speak in Spanish. You will feel proud of yourself, and your Spanish friends will be amazed at your skills.
Stay curious, my friends and as always, happy learning!
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