Writing an essay is easier for some people than others. While the skills necessary to write an essay can certainly be learned and mastered over time, students need to have time to develop these skills and perfect their writing techniques.
Whether you're in grade school or college, one thing that you've probably spent some time learning about is how to write a proper conclusion. And, not just that, but how to write this section with good concluding transitions as well as good transitions between paragraphs before reaching the conclusion. This is in order to make sure your writing flows nicely. Though writing good transitions for a concluding paragraph can be a challenge for both beginner writers and even seasoned writers, it just takes some pointers to make sure you're on the right track.
The Importance of a Conclusion
When writing a paper, whether it be a persuasive essay, a thesis, a research paper, a news article or even a portfolio essay, there's a certain format that all writers must follow. Though there's never a wrong way to write an essay, there is a standard that's accepted worldwide and across different languages. Essays must be organized, written well, include major key points and most of all, include a strong conclusion.
While it's always important to get your essay off on the right start with a powerful and engaging introduction, many people may get lazy toward the end of their writing. After all, writing is no doubt an exhausting process. But it's necessary to keep the reader engaged until the very last sentence. If your reader somehow isn't convinced after reading your paper, the conclusion is the last chance to get them on your team. Though a conclusion can go a lot of different ways, its main purpose is to bring the key ideas of the essay to the surface, by mentioning the main idea one more time and re-emphasizing the crucial points that you have been discussing throughout.
Why Transitions Are Necessary
Most people write or speak in transitional phrases without even realizing they do it. For example, you use words and phrases like "then," "after that" and "anyway" in basic conversations every day. Without transitions, your words would sound extremely choppy, and it would be hard for the reader or listener to make sense of what you're saying.
Transitions are just as critical when writing and for similar reasons. But because transitions often come effortlessly when speaking, writers need to actually be aware of adding transitions when putting together an essay, since those connections aren't always so obvious. Without a transition word or a transitional phrase, your writing would not flow nicely, and the reader may not understand why you're suddenly going from one idea to the next. Transitions help guide readers through the piece with ease as they read it in their head or out loud to themselves. Think of transitions as the glue that sticks the different parts of your essay together.
Writing Good Transitions Between Paragraphs
Before you even get to the conclusion, you'll have other paragraphs in your essay that need to be strung together. Hopefully, by this point in your academic career, you've already learned how to develop strong paragraphs that express your thoughts and ideas in detail. You know how long a paragraph should be, how it should start and what sentences to put inside. But one thing that even college students struggle with is how to implement transitions between paragraphs. If your professor tells you that your writing is "too abrupt" or asks you "how do these things relate?" then it probably means you failed to use a good transition between paragraphs in your writing.
The transitions you use between two paragraphs will be different than the transitions you use in your conclusion but still somewhat similar. Transitions can occur at the end of the previous paragraph, the beginning of the next paragraph or both and include words or phrases like:
- Because of this
- For example
- In addition to
- Even though
- Despite this
- As mentioned before
- That being said
- Due to this event
Some of these transitional phrases are certainly better to use than others, and the more experience you have with writing, the more you'll naturally have the ability to pick and choose which phrases work. Younger students, on the other hand, may use other types of transitions between paragraphs, which are to demonstrate their basic understanding of sequencing events:
Other Times to Use Transitions
In addition to using transitions between paragraphs and as part of your conclusion paragraph, you'll also be required to use transitions in other parts of the piece. This includes using transitions within the actual paragraphs themselves, as well as between sections if you're writing a much longer, in-depth piece.
To use a transition within a paragraph, you may use short words or phrases to bring together sentences. It helps readers to expect what's coming before they read the next sentence, even if that happens within a fraction of a second. Sometimes, you may not even notice this transition as it's very subtle, but it's definitely there.
Likewise, you'll also need to use transitions between sections in a larger piece of writing. These will need to be more explicit because you're coming off a whole other section that may not be as easily connected to the next one. Think of it as a recap of the previous season of a television series, that catches you up on all the events you may have forgotten about. You do this before hitting play on the next season in the series. The two sections must be connected in some way, and a transition helps to achieve that.
Overused Conclusion Sentences
Most of the time, students have a tendency to rely on certain conclusion sentences and transitions more so than others. Most teachers would probably say that if they had a dime for every time a student used the transition "In conclusion" to start their concluding paragraph, that they'd be rich. But this isn't the student's fault. When students learn how to write conclusions in primary school, they're usually being taught to use this phrase often, and only encouraged to use others. However, students should try to stay away from the overused conclusion sentences as much as possible:
- In conclusion
- As you can see
- In summary
- In closing
Ideas for Concluding Transitions
If you want to get away from the overused conclusion statements, then there are several options to choose from. Of course, you also have to be mindful in regard to how much you're using those in your papers as well. If your teachers notice that you're using the same transitions over and over again, it's likely they'll advise you to use something else. Thankfully, there are tons of "In conclusion" replacements you can resort to instead:
- By and large
- Generally speaking
- In any event
- All in all
- Given these points
- In short
- All things considered
- In essence
How Do You Start a Conclusion Paragraph?
Once you've decided on a concluding transition that hasn't been overused, you'll have to start to think of your starting conclusion sentence. Sometimes, the transition phrase you've chosen is enough to have a solid start to your conclusion, but other times, you may need to also take a few words or a sentence to transition between the most recent paragraph and the conclusion. You may also need to write two concluding paragraphs instead of just one, which will, of course, involve using more than one transition sentence starter.
How to Write Your Conclusion
After beginning your conclusion paragraph, it's time to write the rest of the conclusion. This can be tricky, but good conclusions come after practice, persistence and careful use of words and vocabulary. Your conclusion is your last opportunity to tell the reader why you feel the way you do about whatever you're talking about, whether it's an opinion or closing statement based on factual research. Here, you should reiterate the main points of your paper without getting too repetitive, and if applicable, leave the reader with something to think about. You can always ask a friend to read over your conclusion to see if you've succeeded.
How Do You Write a Concluding Sentence?
The only part of your essay with the most potential to influence the reader more so than the introduction of your paper, is the closing sentence of your paper. If you're wondering whether or not you can end a conclusion with a question, the answer is, it depends. If you're writing a research paper that discusses some controversial topics, then it's absolutely a great idea to end your conclusion with a question. This can be a rhetorical question or it can be directed straight to the reader, but either way, it should be somewhat open-ended and ultimately be a conversation starter.
At the same time, though, a persuasive essay is meant to convince the reader of your opinion, so leaving them with a question instead of a strong, believable statement, could be a mistake. You'll really need to read over your paper several times to make sure your conclusion and your concluding sentence makes sense with the rest of the piece.
Using Conclusions in Other Ways
In most cases, the relationship that you as a student will have with writing conclusions will primarily be through academic assignments, mostly essays. But even if you despise writing conclusions and papers, keep in mind that this is not the only area in which you'll have to wrap things up in your life. Conclusions are part of everyday life. You write them or speak them when you put together an e-mail, type up a message you want to send to a friend, throw together a thank you note, or formulate speeches or announcements. While these types of conclusions will certainly be different than those found in a college paper, they're still very important.
Things to Consider
If you're still wondering, "How can I end my essay without saying, 'in conclusion'?" either because the other transition words and phrases don't make sense to you, or you simply can't think of anything else to say, then that's okay. In fact, it's likely that so many people are avoiding "in conclusion" so often that it may even become trendy again.
At the end of the day, if you can try and add some variety in the transition words and phrases you use, then that's great. But, if you're having a hard time with it, just do what you feel comfortable with. In the meantime, ask your teacher or professor if they have any additional advice that may be useful for you, or consult the writing resources at your school for support.
Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Please visit her website, www.hanalarockwriting.com, to learn more.