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Using Transitions to Show the Sequence of Events

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Using Transitions to Show the Sequence of Events
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.3.C

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Using Transitions to Show the Sequence of Events

What are transition words and how to use them to show the sequence of events in narrative writing? Learn all about transition words and phrases through our video, transition words and phrases worksheets, and an article on narrative writing transition words for 4th graders!

Transition words and phrases – Definition

To make their writing more cohesive and coherent, authors often use transitions.

Transition words and phrases connect thoughts and ideas in writing to one another, making the content of the text easier to follow. Transitions are used both in fictional and nonfictional texts. In fiction, they can have different functions, but most transitions in fictional narrative are used to show a sequence of events.

Transition Words for Narrative Writing

A narrative is a form of writing that focuses on telling a story. Narratives can describe either personal experiences, or fictional events and characters.

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Stories in narrative texts usually have a beginning, a middle, and an end, which means they describe events in a sequence. In order to show this sequence, we can use transitional words like first, next, and last. However, we often need to show not only the beginning, middle, and end of a narrative, but also movement within the main parts of the story. We can show the reader how the story moves from one event to another, and connect events together with the help of transitions of place and time. Let’s take a look at some sequence transition words that we can use to do so. Here is an example of transition words and phrases in a paragraph: It all started when Sally and Tim decided to help their parents with gardening. They were digging holes to plant bushes when, all of a sudden, Sally’s shovel hit something hard. Tim immediately dropped his shovel and ran to see what Sally had found. There are three events described in the paragraph: Sally and Tim decided to help their parents, Sally’s shovel hit something hard, and Tim dropped his shovel and ran to see what Sally had found. The author used transitional phrases to connect these events and put them in a clear order. The first phrase, ‘It all started’ lets the reader know that this was the first thing that happened in the story. ’All of a sudden’ shows an unexpected event that happened next. ‘Immediately’ signals the time frame and shows that the next event happened right after the previous event. These transitions let us know that the events in the story happened quickly, and help move the story forward. Let’s read the second paragraph of the story and look for more transitions: ”It’s probably a treasure chest!” Tim shouted with excitement. He started helping Sally to dig, and eventually, they took an old wooden box out of the ground. At that very moment, Tim and Sally knew that they had to open the box straight away! What are some transitions the author used in this paragraph? ’Eventually’ is a transitional word that tells us that some time had passed before Tim and Sally took the box out. ’At that very moment’ is a transitional phrase signals when they wanted to open the box. Let’s finish reading the story and identify transitions. Sally and Tim saw some old photos of two kids in the box, together with a pop-band poster, a baseball and two friendship bracelets. Just then, Sally and Tim’s parents came to see what their children were so excited about. “I can see, you have found our time capsule!” - said their dad. “Your mom and I put it in the ground many years ago and completely forgot about it! We are so glad you’ve found this box!” Sally and Tim had never seen a time capsule before. They spent the rest of the day thinking about creating one of their own! In the end, their mom and dad helped them find a new box and the whole family created their new time capsule together! There are two transitional phrases in this paragraph. The phrase ’just then’ connects two events: Sally and Tim looking at the insides of the box, and their parents coming to see what they are excited about. ’In the end’ tells us that this is how this story ends and wraps up the events into a conclusion.

Transitional Words and Phrases for Narrative Writing – List

If you are an aspiring writer, and you are wondering what are some good transitional words and phrases that you can use for your narrative, take a look at our list of transitional words and phrases for narrative writing.

Transitional Words Transitional Phrases
first
next
then
last
afterwards
meanwhile
eventually
immediately
suddenly
it all started when
all of a sudden
just then
at that very moment
before long
in the end
at the same time
following that
shortly after

Using Transitions to Show the Sequence of Events – Summary

  • Transitional words and phrases connect thoughts and ideas in writing to one another, making the content of the text easier to follow for the readers.
  • A narrative is a form of writing that focuses on telling a story.
  • Narratives need transitions of time and place to connect the events. They are used to indicating used to indicate beginning, middle, and end of a narrative, as well as the movement inside the story. Now you know how to use transition words or phrases to show the sequence of events. If you want more practice, check out our video, transition words and phrases worksheet, and activities!

Frequently Asked Questions about Transition Words

What are transition words and phrases?
What is the purpose of transition words and phrases in a narrative?
What are 5 to 10 examples of transitions?

Transcript Using Transitions to Show the Sequence of Events

“Ernie, you’ll never believe what I just saw!” “There was a DOG that saved a CAT from a tree!” “It’ll make the perfect story for the paper!” “Everyone loves a feel-good story!” Jane and Ernie are going to write a narrative for the newspaper and need to use… Transitions to Show Sequence of Events. Narratives are forms of writing that tell a story. They can be personal experiences... or fictional events of characters. Narratives are told by describing a sequence of events, usually in the form of beginning, middle, and end. In earlier grades, we showed sequence by using signal words like first, next, and last. As we grow as writers, we look for ways to express ourselves more clearly. In narratives, we not only show the beginning, middle, and end, but we can show movement inside a story by using transitions. Narratives need transitions of time and place to connect events together by putting them in a clear order. Transitional words signal that the characters are doing something new, ... so it helps move the story forward. Let's look at the beginning of the story written by Jane and Ernie to see how we sequence events using transitions. It all started when Murphy was walking home from the store. He was busy thinking about his new bone when, all of a sudden, he heard a noise coming from the tree above. He immediately looked up and saw a cat stuck in the tree. The beginning of this story includes three events; Murphy walking home from the store... hearing a noise… and looking up to see a cat. Transitional phrases are used to connect these events to the order in which they happen. The first phrase, ‘it all started’ lets the reader know this is the FIRST thing that happened in the series of events. ‘All of a sudden’ is a transitional phrase that indicates there was an unexpected event that changed the action. It tells the reader what happened NEXT. We see then that he IMMEDIATELY looked up. Immediately is a transition that not only signals the next event but the time frame in which it happens. All these transitions work together to let us know that this sequence of events occurred very quickly. Let's continue on with the story. Murphy felt sorry for the poor cat and wondered what he could do to help. Just then, he noticed a tall ladder across the street. At that very moment, he knew what he had to do! When the story progresses to this middle action, we see the transitions ‘just then’ and ‘at that very moment ‘. What events are connected by the transition ‘just then’? Murphy wondering what to do and seeing the ladder. What timeframe does ‘at that very moment’ tell us about when he got the idea to help the cat? It lets us know that it happened as soon as he saw the ladder. Let's see how this story ends. Before long, he was leaning up against the tree and reaching out to Artemis, the cat. He eventually convinced her to come with him safely to the ground. In the end, Artemis hugged Murphy and the two became best friends! What sequence transitions do you see at the end of the story? ‘Before long’, ‘eventually’, and ‘in the end’. What does the phrase, ‘before long’ tell us? It moves the time of Murphy getting the ladder and going up into the tree. What does ‘eventually’ tell us about the events? Eventually, is a transition that indicates that some time has passed before the next event occurred. The last transition, 'in the end’ tells us that this is how this story ends and... wraps up the events into a conclusion. While Ernie and Jane proofread their narrative, let’s review… remember... narratives are forms of writing that tell a story. They are told by describing a sequence of events usually in the form of beginning, middle, and end. Narratives need transitions of time and place to connect the events. Transitions signal that the characters are doing something new, so it helps move the story forward. "EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!" "DOG SAVES CAT FROM TREE!"

Using Transitions to Show the Sequence of Events exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learned? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video Using Transitions to Show the Sequence of Events .
  • Determine the correct order of the transition words and phrases below.

    Hints

    Find the transition words or phrases for the beginning and end of the narrative first.

    Find the transition word or phrase that shows something new has started. This is position 2.

    Solution

    "It all started when" indicates the first event of the story.
    "Just then" is second. This shows a new event.
    "Eventually" is third. This suggests an event has been going on for some time.
    "In the end" is last. This indicates the final event of the narrative.

  • Identify the phrases that explain a narrative.

    Hints

    There are two correct answers.

    Narratives have a sequence of events in the format of a beginning, middle, and end.

    A narrative describes a story with people, places, events, and the passing of time.

    Solution

    We use these important pieces of a narrative to help move the story forward.

  • Classify the transitions and events in the story.

    Hints

    Events describe something happening.
    Transitions mark a change, usually in place or time.

    Transitions link 2 or more events, but are not a complete thought or sentence by themselves.

    There are three transitions in this story.

    Solution

    Transitions help to move a story forward.
    The transitions in this narrative are:

    • It all started when
    • Immediately
    • All of a sudden
    The remaining parts of this narrative are events.

  • Identify the event that belongs to each transition word or phrase.

    Hints

    Some transitions signal the beginning or the end of a narrative. Find these pairs first.

    The transition, "eventually", marks the end of an event that has been happening for a while. Try to find this pair.

    "All of a sudden" means something has happened suddenly, so look for an event that happened without warning.

    Solution

    Transitions are used to connect events to show the reader the order in which they happen.

  • Identify the transitions and events below.

    Hints

    Events describe something happening.
    Transition words mark a change, usually in place or time.

    There are three transitions.

    Solution

    In a story, transitions are used to connect events to the order in which they happen.

  • Complete the narrative by filling in the missing transition words and phrases.

    Hints

    Some transition words signal the beginning or the end of a narrative. Find these transitions first.

    The second transition word or phrase will signal a new event. Try to find this transition word or phrase next.

    Any transition word that starts a sentence needs to start with a capital letter.

    Solution
    • It all started when
    • all of a sudden
    • Just then,
    • immediately
    • In the end