Writing Bridges for Understanding

Grammar Smith sat aTransition magnifying glasst her large, scarred oak desk in the Department of English Language Offenses sipping a cuppa joe and trying to follow a report written by her sometime partner, Dis Connect.

Grammar liked Dis, but his reports were tough to get through. She always had to read them several times trying to fill in the blanks to get a complete picture of what he was writing about.

Suspect walked into store. Suspect walked out. Suspect took cab to apartment two blocks away. Suspect sneezed and coughed. Bartender gave suspect a cup of tea. Suspect walked out with bag of bar’s take.

 Grammar sighed.

“Dis! Dis, come over here for a sec.”

Dis plopped down into the “perp chair” at Grammar’s desk. “Hey, Gram. Whatcha need?”

Although she bristled at the shortening of her name, Grammar let it pass.

“Dis, I can’t follow your report. You haven’t connected these statements to give me an idea of what the suspect actually did.”

“Oh, it’s easy!” Dis said. “The suspect walked into a liquor store, but he didn’t buy anything. He seemed nervous. Because it was pouring rain, he took a cab to his apartment two blocks away. He ended up getting soaking wet anyway. He changed and came back out. The rain had stopped. He sneezed and coughed as he walked a couple of blocks to a bar. He was still sneezing and coughing, so the bartender gave him a cup of tea with a shot – for medicinal purposes, he said. Unfortunately, the suspect pulled a gun out of his pocket and demanded the bartender hand over all the money in the till. The suspect then walked out with a bag of the bar’s entire take.”

“Dis, you must put in transitions to connect all that information, so I can follow it,” Grammar complained. “You can’t just throw down statements willy nilly. You have to provide bridges from one idea to the next. If you don’t, your writing is confusing and ineffective.”

Grammar Smith, like most writers, knows the importance of transitional words and phrases. She knows that writers must provide clues to help readers connect the information and move toward understanding in the way writers want. Grammar understands that the readers need help translating the words into the picture the writer has in his head.

Without transitions, the writing is weak and open to misinterpretation. Transitional words like although, since, because, however, and despite are just a few that can be used to show relationships between ideas. Connecting ideas with more descriptive information is another way we can help readers transition from one idea to the next.

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